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Using email to save abandoned baskets and boost e-commerce ROI

Retargeting, or remarketing, is an effective way to reach customers who have given you their email address but have yet to complete an order. There are many ways it can be done but one way that deserves to be focused on is using email to save abandoned baskets.

If you have a customer’s email address but they haven’t made a purchase it means that something must have happened to deter them during the check out process. They were so close, but yet so far! It could be something as simple as the phone ringing, the postman at the door, or it could be that the potential customer was put off by the price of postage and packaging.

Email can be used to save these abandoned baskets. It can give people a second chance if they simply got distracted or to offer them discounts and special offers if the issue was to do with cost. A stat from Shopify says that almost 70% of baskets are abandoned before a customer completes a sale – this means there’s a lot of opportunity for increasing conversions by targeting those who have already been engaged with your store via email. We’re going to look at how it’s done.  

Remind them of what they abandoned

Just because someone has abandoned their basket doesn’t mean that they don’t still want to buy. Unwanted distractions or a browser crash can derail their journey, but the desire to buy will still remain. A simple email reminding the user of what they abandoned is often enough to get them back on track.

There are case studies that show how abandoned basket emails are most effective when sent shortly after an abandonment, but can still create conversions as much as a week later. According to e-consultancy, Boot Barn achieved a 46% open rate with an email sent 20 minutes after a basket had been abandoned. A third email sent a week later achieved an open rate of 28%. Research from SalesCycle suggests that an email sent within 20 minutes has an average conversion rate of 5.2%.

If the customer really did want to buy the product they abandoned then they’ll appreciate getting an email inviting them to go back. However, while a small number of emails sent over the course of a week is acceptable sending too many, or all of them in a short space of time, is likely to annoy the person receiving them.

Make it easy for them go back

A key feature of any abandoned basket email should be a link, or links, that takes the recipient back to where they left off. The link should take them directly to the last step of the checkout process, skipping the registration or login stage. As with checkout processes in general the easier it is to complete a purchase, the less likely people will be to abandon their baskets.

Create great content

The key to a successful abandonment email is great content that makes the recipient fall in love with the product all over again and makes it irresistible to go back. This should be done through use of quality imagery of your products, and some engaging copy.

The copy includes the subject line, and the content of the email. A good subject line will make it clear that someone has forgotten something and could be personalised like “Hi John, we’re still holding your

for you”, or fun, “Hey you, come back and pick your basket up off our e-floor”

In the body of the email the copy should cover three main points – that the recipient has an item left in their basket, that they once showed an interest in the item, and that they can easily return to their basket at the final checkout stage. At the end of the email should be a strong call to action like “pick up where you left off” or “go straight to checkout, no queuing required”.  

Sweeten the deal

Finally an additional way to increase conversions through abandoned basket emails is to include a discount or special offer that will encourage recipients to return. One of the main causes of basket abandonment is because postage & packaging costs are too high and weren’t made clear enough early enough in the checkout process. Hidden costs in general are good at putting people off, as are better deals found elsewhere.

If you can afford it discounts are easy to dish out. All you need to do is decide how much of a discount you want to give, create a discount code and stick it in the email. It might not be worth it for small baskets, but if a small discount can sway someone into completing a larger orders then a discount in an abandonment email is great for conversions and profits.


Chances are if you’re already using a well-established e-commerce platform it will feature abandoned basket recovery functionality. Setting up the emails is simple once you’ve decided what the content will be and can be automated so you don’t have to think too much about it. If you’re not sure how to get started with abandonment emails, or need help setting them up through your e-commerce portal, get in touch with Vu’s team of e-commerce experts today.