March 16, 2010, 12:00 AM

More merchants turn to e-mail reminders to help minimize cart abandonment

20% of retailers sent e-mails reminding shoppers that they left an item in their shopping carts, according to a new report.

20% of retailers sent e-mails reminding shoppers that they left an item in their shopping carts, up from 14% in 2008, according to a recent study of retailers` cart abandonment strategies by The E-tailing Group Inc.

The e-mails are sent when a customer leaves a retail site after going through much of the checkout process.

The study, conducted during the fourth quarter of 2009, found that 15% of the abandonment e-mails included incentives, such as a percentage-off discount or discounted shipping. That marks a sharp decrease from 2008, when 29% of the e-mails included offers.

That decrease may be due to retailers seeking to prevent consumers from assuming that every time they leave an item in their shopping bag they`ll get an incentive, says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group. "You don`t want to train consumers to expect a discount," she says.

Retailers should position follow-up e-mails as a benefit to the customer, says Freedman. However, the report finds the percentage of messages featuring a personalized salutation fell to 40%, from 57% a year earlier.

The study also found:

  • 95% of e-mails were HTML formatted, rather than text formatted. HTML enables merchants to include an image of the abandoned product, reminding shoppers of their selection. A year ago 86% of e-mails were HTML formatted.
  • 40% of e-mails featured an image of the abandoned product, up from 21% in 2008.
  • The average number of days to receive an e-mail was 6.15, down from 7.0 a year earlier.


Freedman will be speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 8-11 in Chicago, in a session entitled The anatomy of an online merchandising redesign.

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