[WEBINAR] A Pandemic-Proof Approach to Abandoned Cart & Customer Recovery

July 23, 2020

The global pandemic has certainly hit the eCommerce industry, but it’s not all been bad – and the future doesn’t have to be either. 

We recently ran a webinar with web store and shopping cart expert Volusion, to share a pandemic-proof approach to abandoned cart and customer recovery that weathers the COVID storm while generating more leads and conversions. 

If you missed it, don’t worry, you haven’t missed out. In this week’s blog, we’re sharing a replay of the webinar and summary of the key takeaways, including:

  • A better understanding of COVID’s effect on ecommerce and remarketing.
  • Why cart abandonment isn’t such a bad thing.
  • Why a basic abandoned cart strategy can be a bad thing.
  • How to create your own customer recovery strategy. 

Let’s jump straight in. 

The True COVID Effect on Ecommerce and Remarketing

You’ve seen the headlines – the eCommerce industry is booming thanks to more businesses, shoppers, and panic buyers heading online due to COVID. 

However, if you read our recent blog on The COVID Impact on Abandoned Carts, you know that the reality has been mixed. 

Our research shows that around 20% of online retailers have experienced a surge in sales, another 20% have experienced a lull in sales, and 60% haven’t seen much of a difference- not quite the boom advertised. Other research shows the same, as demonstrated by this neat headwind and tailwind graphic from Reforge:


The biggest impact COVID has had on eCommerce is not on the overall number of online shoppers but on sellers’ ability to recapture and recover lost customers. Why is this?

Direct shoppers might be increasing (thanks to Amazon downgrading its Prime delivery speeds), but so are online retailers, comparison shoppers, and costs per lead. 

Accordingly, cart abandonment is skyrocketing…even more so. 

Why Cart Abandonment is Still a Problem

Cart abandonment isn’t a new problem. Before COVID, 90% of shoppers weren’t taking any action while on your website, and of those who did, 75% were abandoning their cart before the checkout. 

COVID has exacerbated the situation, through:

  • Distractions – more people are working from home, checking the news for updates, and being pulled onto Zoom calls while in the middle of shopping. 
  • Attention – shoppers have more on their minds making it difficult to concentrate for lengthy periods. 
  • Comparisons – with more retailers to choose from and less money to play with, shoppers are comparison shopping a lot more. 
  • Fear – we’re living through an unprecedented situation that creates fear-driven purchase habits such as reduced spending and risk aversion. 

But it isn’t all bad. 

Why Cart Abandonment isn’t Such a Bad Thing

While people leaving your website before making a purchase isn’t ideal, cart abandonment gives you a unique view into your potential customers, their buying journey, and the reasons behind abandonment. 

When you view cart abandonment as a tool, rather than a problem, you open your business up to:

  • More leads to nurture.
  • Lead self-segmentation as a cold, warm, or hot. 
  • The sources of abandonment.

This information powers you to address retention at every stage of the buyer’s journey by delivering the right marketing message at the right time. 

However, if cart abandonment isn’t such a bad thing – what is?

Abandoned Cart vs. Customer Recovery

The typical customer journey starts with three initial phases:

  1. The awareness phase – when a customer becomes aware of your brand and products. 
  2. The consideration phase – where a customer adds something to their cart and moves to the checkout. 
  3. The sale phase – where a customer purchases products. 

This journey then moves into the next phases of order management, fulfillment, and customer retention, but we’re interested in the first three phases. 

Your checkout flow is designed to support and facilitate the initial stages of the customer journey, making it easy and compelling for customers to move from awareness to consideration and conversion. During the awareness phase, shoppers are visiting your home, category, and product pages, whereas shoppers in the consideration phase have made it as far as your cart and checkout pages. 

buyer journey checkout flow funnel

When it comes to tackling cart abandonment, the problem lies in which part of the checkout flow you’re tackling because it directly affects which phase of the customer journey you’re targeting, and, therefore, who you’re targeting. 

Abandoned cart model

For years, online sellers were taught that an abandoned cart email campaign was the best way to recover cart abandonment. An automated email was sent to any customer who added a product to their cart, entered their email on the checkout page, but failed to click “buy,” enticing them back.  

buyer journey checkout flow funnel

The downfall of a basic abandoned cart strategy is that it only focuses on the final part of the checkout flow (the cart and the checkout), which means that it only targets customers at the end of the consideration phase. This is a problem for four reasons:

  • It does nothing to nurture cold leads who left during the awareness phase. 
  • It does nothing to progress warm leads who left before the checkout page. 
  • It does nothing to stop people from abandoning in the first place. 
  • It gives you no insight into why abandonment occurred. 

Customer recovery model

A customer recovery model overcomes these limitations by addressing retention and recovery at every stage of the checkout flow, to capture customers in both the awareness and consideration phases of the customer journey – what we like to call a full-funnel attack. 

buyer journey checkout flow funnel

It does this by combining on-site retention campaigns with a multi-channel recovery campaign to:

  1. Prevent abandonment from happening at any stage. 
  2. Obtain customer contact details entered at any stage. 
  3. Recover abandonment at any stage. 

The customer recovery model outperforms the abandoned cart model because it reduces cart abandonment, increases leads, and boosts recovery – an all-rounder. 

How to Get Started With a Customer Recovery Campaign 

Getting started with a customer recovery model is simple when you think of it as four complementary campaigns:

1. The top of the funnel: cold leads 

buyer journey checkout flow funnel

At the top of the funnel are your cold leads – those currently on your website browsing or window shopping. 

The goals here are to drive on-site retention to prevent leads from abandoning, and to capture contact information should that not work. Four tools for achieving this are:

Real-time tracking and data capture

Real-time tracking and data capture monitors and records shopper behavior across your website, in real-time. This enables you to:

  • Capture email addresses as they’re being typed, to use if a lead abandons; 
  • Identify when someone is about to abandon your website, to disrupt their exit;
  • Record the moment of abandonment, to queue customers in the relevant recovery campaign; and
  • Record what someone looks at, to personalize recovery reminders. 

Exit intent offer

An abandonment exit intent offer is a popup that appears as someone is about to abandon your website, offering them something in exchange for their email address before they go. 

This could be a coupon, a buying guide, a newsletter – anything that tempts visitors to enter their email address, which you can later use for remarketing. 

Delayed popup offers

A delayed popup offer is like an exit intent offer, except it appears based on the time someone is on your website. This means you can present it to all visitors, rather than just those heading for the back button. 

Again, this offer must be something the customer will exchange their email address for. 

Conversion nudges

A conversion nudge is an exit intent or delayed popup that attempts to overcome the reason for abandonment but doesn’t ask for a customer’s email address in exchange. This is more powerful for keeping customers on your website. 

This could be a benefits reminder, such as free shipping or alternative payment options, or a free-for-all coupon code – anything that moves the shopper closer to the checkout page. 

2. The middle of the funnel: warm leads

buyer journey checkout flow funnel

In the middle of the funnel are your warm leads – those who spent a little more time bouncing around your category and product pages before leaving your website. You might know these as browse abandoners. 

The goal here is to re-engage their interest and bring them back to your website, using two powerful tools:

Browse abandonment emails

Browse abandonment emails are recovery emails sent visitors who left before adding an item to their cart. 

These are different from cart abandonment emails because browse abandonment leads aren’t as hot as cart abandonment leads – they haven’t added a product to their cart yet. Therefore, it’s important to adopt a softer tone and use products/categories viewed to inject personalization. 

Think more “Hi, thanks for visiting,” than “Hey! Last chance to buy these…”

Browse abandonment push notifications

Browse abandonment push notifications are timed, clickable notifications that appear on a device screen. You’ll know them from browsing the internet and being asked, “Do you want to allow notifications from this site?”

The beauty of abandonment push notifications is that 40-60% of people allow them, they don’t require an email address, they appear away from the overcrowded inbox, and they subtly complement your other recovery campaigns. 

Relevant reading: 12 examples of highly converting abandoned cart push notifications

3. The bottom of the funnel: hot leads

buyer journey checkout flow funnel

At the bottom of the funnel are your hot leads – those who added a product to their cart and then left before finalizing. 

The goal here is to recover that abandoned cart using a multi-channel recovery campaign to remind, reengage, and recover hot leads. This includes:

Abandoned cart emails

You know what abandoned cart emails are, but did you know that when relevant, personalized, correctly timed, and support-based (rather than sales-based), they achieve an average 40-60% open rate?

Abandoned cart emails work by targeting your hottest leads and picking the lowest hanging fruit to drive conversions, but they must be done right. 

Further reading: Ten simple ways to increase your abandoned cart conversion rate

Abandoned cart SMS reminders

Abandoned cart SMS reminders are a highly effective channel for customer recovery, for many reasons that you can read about here. 

In short, SMS messages have a 98% average open rate, they stand out from the crowded inbox, they’re short and simple, they’re actively opted-in by customers, and they align shopper habits with their preferred device. What’s not to love? 

Abandoned cart push notifications

Abandoned cart push notifications work similarly to browse abandonment push notification. 

As long as your cart abandoner has opted into push notifications and has an internet browser open in the background, they’ll see your push notification – even if they dismiss it. 

Send my Cart

Send my Cart gives customers an alternative to abandonment when they need to leave your website but don’t want to leave their cart (think dinner, deliveries, and dog walking). 

Customers send their shopping cart to their inbox, and you get the contact details of your hottest leads – allowing you to run a full follow-up email campaign. 

4. The whole funnel: conversion empowerment tools

Finally, there’s a selection of tools that empower your top, middle, and bottom funnel tools to perform even better. These are:

A/B split testing 

A/B split testing tests two versions of a subject line, pop up, or email to see which one works better. This helps you to identify the tactics that work best for your specific audience. 

Abandoned tab notifications 

CartStack’s abandoned tab notifications work when a visitor opens a new browser tab by changing the favicon to an exclamation point, blinking a message in the tab text, and sounding an alert to remind them you’re still there. It’s another subtle way to get customers back onto you website. 

Form auto-refill 

Form auto-refill remembers information entered onto the checkout page and pre-populates it when a customer returns. This reduces friction and makes it quicker for customers to proceed through the checkout. 

Real-time abandonment notifications 

Real-time abandonment notifications alert you when abandonments meeting certain criteria happen, in real-time. These are perfect if you want your sales team to personally outreach to customers abandoning carts over a specific value or containing certain products. 

Session replays

Session replays allow you to re-watch abandonment as it happened, to identify the trigger and put countermeasures in place. 


Since a customer recovery model captures way more emails than an abandoned cart model, you can use Zapier to put these email addresses to even more use. Automatically zap unconverted customers into your email service provider, CRM, or other marketing tools to continue nurturing them – some customers just take a little time. 

A Peek into How CartStack Works

Want to see how these tools work in action? You’ll have to watch the webinar below to find out…or, just sign up for a free trial.