Are email reminders of products abandoned in the shopping cart an intelligent policy or an intrusive ploy?

Posted on March 15th, 2010 by

While preparing out latest e-tail detail, “More Merchants Rely on Email to Minimize Cart Abandonment,” the question of customer privacy sparked a conversation within our office.

Is reaching out to customers to remind them that products are left behind good customer service or does it cross a boundary and become intrusive?

The fact that 20% of the e-tailing group’s EG100 merchants sent abandonment emails during our 4Q ’09 tracking period, a 6% increase over last year, suggests that this is an effective tactic to capture sales that might otherwise be lost. Notably, they represented a broader cross-section of product categories too.

After much discussion we agreed that messaging and execution are what make these emails viable. Relevant merchandising and customer service should position each communiqué as a benefit to the customer, versus snooping into their shopping bag.

The issue of timing and frequency for sending such email reminders is also topical. Our take is that one reminder is sufficient and on average the merchants we tracked sent those 6 days after product was left behind.

Please check out the related e-tail detail to see best-in-class site examples and read a smart strategy checklist but here is a short-list of pointers:

  • From a design perspective, HTML formatting enables showing an image of the item in question which serves as a good visual reminder
  • A helpful customer service tactic is to include the number of days that items will be held in the cart
  • Established merchandising tactics like, top-rated items or what’s new add appeal but my favorite is suggesting the item be added to a wish list for future consideration
  • Promotional enticements are always a good “carrot” especially a limited time discount or free shipping for the abandoned product

These two mass merchants take very different approaches but both include some of the essentials that should make them welcomed by recipients:

Do you think that sending a reminder email when something is left in the cart is a smart strategy?

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