One, Two or Three? How Many Cart Reminders Do Shoppers Need?

Guest blog post by by Jim Davidson, Head of Research at Bronto Software

Bronto is a NetSuite company. Read more on commerce marketing at the Bronto Blog.


Uncovering a shocking data point is one of the most thrilling parts of my job, and this one is a jaw dropper! It was only a couple of years ago that I conducted a study of the cart strategies for top retailers and found that only 13 percent sent a cart reminder. My, how things have changed! Our latest study, Revenue Rescue: Saving Sales When Shoppers Stray, shows that figure has more than tripled with 41 percent of retailers sending cart reminders.

If you are part of that 41 percent, I congratulate you on making online shopping easier for your customers and, of course, recouping potential lost sales. However, having successfully launched a cart reminder doesn’t mean your work is done.

You can greatly improve the odds of bringing shoppers back to your ecommerce site by sending a series of cart reminder messages. Our study found that 20 percent of retailers are sending multiple cart reminder emails. Are you one of them? If not, you could be missing some big opportunities.

Start Your Series at the Right Time
The study also revealed that some retailers (12 percent) send their first reminder an hour after items were left in the cart; 23 percent send within 12 hours, 37 percent in 24 to 48 hours, and 28 percent of retailers wait three or more days before sending the first reminder. Some even wait as many as eight days. Test to find the right cadence for your customers and product category. Too soon and you could press too hard. Too late and you open the door for the shopper to buy somewhere else.

Pick a Personality
In the subject line, the study found that 67 percent of retailers used a customer service tone (“Do you need help with your order?”); 19 percent were generic (“We’ve heard A LOT about you.”); 9 percent evoked a sense of urgency (“We’re running low on the items you want.”). Try testing to see what works best for different scenarios. Saving urgency and discounts for the final message in a series can avoid sacrificing average order values.

Build a Story
A series of messages can give you a way to build rapport and expand on themes over time. For instance, you could start with a generic reminder, then a customer service tone and then add urgency.

Be There to Help
More than half of retailers surveyed (53 percent) also feature customer service details in their cart reminders – toll-free numbers, email and links to FAQs, forums and other resources. If you want to shine online, help your shoppers with questions they need answered before submitting an order.

When shoppers abandon their carts, don’t abandon them. With 40 percent of shoppers viewing carts later on a different device or in a store, there’s a lot to be said for a helpful reminder to reconnect them to the cart. A well-constructed cart reminder series is a powerful and proven tool. But as with any marketing tactic, you must implement these reminders in a way that is relevant and engaging, not annoying. By continually testing the key aspects of your reminder strategy – number, frequency, tone and content – you’ll find the sweet spot that reels in potentially lost revenue.

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