April 10, 2001, 12:00 AM

E-mail campaign recoups lost sales from abandoned carts

Lighthousedepot.com saves cart data and offers shoppers another chance to buy.

At Lighthousedepot.com, abandoned shopping don’t always stay that way. A software program that saves abandoned shopping cart data and later e-mails the carts to customers offering them another chance to complete the purchase netted $3,000 in incremental sales in under 10 days when tested recently at Lighthousedepot.com. Maine-based Lighthouse Depot is a multi-channel seller of lighthouse- related merchandise and the publisher of a magazine on the same topic; the web site, up since 1995, now accounts for about 20% of annual sales that exceed $5 million. The company built the system in-house on its existing Cold Fusion platform at a cost of about $1,200, says Webmaster Geoffrey Baker. The recouped sales were drawn from only about one-third of the abandoned carts as the program doesn’t secure e-mail addresses from browsers but only from those who register to purchase.

Baker says that in addition to the sales lift, e-mail feedback has provided useful insight from customers. “The most common reason shoppers say they abandoned the carts was that they got disconnected – in most cases, it seemed to be a modem connection issue at the user end,” Baker says. But what if customers dumped the carts for others reasons – would those who simply changed their minds about the purchase be annoyed with the offer of another chance to buy the same goods? “That could happen,” admits Baker, “but so far it hasn’t. The response has been mostly positive.”


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