January 9, 2013, 3:57 PM

Cart abandonment e-mails gain more attention from e-retailers

19% of Top 1000 e-retailers send messages encouraging consumers to purchase.

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More e-retailers are sending e-mails to consumers who’ve added products to their online shopping carts but then left without buying. 19% of retailers listed in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide and Second 500 Guide, which collectively rank the top 1000 e-retailers in North America by sales, send at least one cart abandonment e-mail. That’s up from 14.6% that did so in 2011, according to e-mail marketing vendor Listrak.

Listrak’s annual analysis of the cart abandonment e-mail practices of the Top 1000 retailers show that smaller retailers in particular stepped up their use of e-mail to encourage consumers to return and purchase. 18.8% of Second 500 retailers now send at least one cart abandonment message, up from 10.7% that did so in 2011. That puts the use of such messages among the Second 500 at just about par with the 19.4% of Top 500 retailers that follow up abandoned carts with marketing e-mail.

Retailers also are sending messages closer to the time of cart abandonment. 58.7% of larger retailers and 75.3% of smaller retailers send a message encouraging consumers to return within the first 24 hours. That’s up 14.8% for larger retailers and 5.9% for smaller retailers since 2011. Listrak says second and third messages, if retailers send them, also are being sent earlier. The number of retailers sending a second e-mail increased 7.6% and the number sending a third e-mail increased 207% between 2011 and 2012.

“We find it encouraging that many retailers are sending two or three re-targeting emails, rather than relying on a single message,” says Ross Kramer, Listrak CEO.  “A three-message series is a best practice and something we recommend that every retailer consider.”

Fewer e-retailers are including discounts in their cart-abandonment messages. The analysis shows a 17% decrease in offers made in the first message, a 5.4% decrease in the second and a 7.6% decrease in the third message.

“It is promising to see that fewer retailers are offering discounts in the shopping cart recovery e-mails, especially in the first message,” Kramer says. Including a discount right off the bat may encourage consumers to intentionally abandon a cart if they expect a discount offer to arrive shortly thereafter, and that impacts profits. “We are strong advocates of the discount ladder approach, which is not including an offer in the first message, offering a small discount in the second message, and increasing the offer in the third message, because it protects profit margins and maximizes profitability.”   

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