Stories, Tips and Insights on Cart Abandonment with WooCommerce

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Cart abandonment is something almost every WooCommerce shop experiences. Whether it’s for your own store that sells WooCommerce services or products, or your client’s sites, it is something you should understand beyond the basic concept.

Recently we had Dave Rodenbaugh from Recapture on a podcast. We talked about a lot of things, but did spend some time on cart abandonment. As a result, I have pulled that out to give you some great tips and insights from Dave.

Cart Abandonment with WooCommerce

What you will discover here are not only tips, but actual real-life experiences and some different perspectives on cart abandonment.

The Basics of Cart Abandonment

Abandoned carts are basically something that troubles almost every single store out there and certainly if you’re in a high volume store with WooCommerce, you find that you have lots of visitors to the site, but your overall sales on the other side don’t seem to match the number of visitors. You might have 100,000 visitors in a week on your site, and you might only have 10 or 15 sales that comes out of that. So anything that’s between those two numbers are people that abandon, and there’s really two different flavors of that.

Abandoned Carts vs. Abandoned Checkouts

There’s abandoned carts and abandoned checkouts. Abandoned checkouts are where somebody goes all the way through your store, they add something to the cart, they make it all the way to the checkout page, and then they just fall off. There’s lots of reasons why people get distracted.

Might be that somebody was screaming at them to make dinner, their five-year-old came in the room and said, “Hey Mom, I’m hungry,” and then they’re like, “Okay, they can’t check out now, they got something else to work on.” They might have gotten surprised by the fees that you’re charging or they didn’t expect the taxes or the shipping expenses or whatever. All of those things can knock people off the page. Or that your checkout process was really onerous.

What Recapture Does

But to contrast that, then there’s abandoned carts, where people add something to the cart, but then they never actually make it to the checkout. So it’s really a two-headed problem right there and Recapture handles all of that. We will actually go and track all these carts for you so you can actually see how big the problem is. Secondly, we give you some tools that allow you to capture emails and/or mobile phone numbers so that you can reach out to those people and have them come back and complete the sales on your site.

There might have been some objection that you could easily overcome, tell them maybe they don’t trust your brand enough so you could send them some social proof, some reviews or testimonials about your site. Make them feel better about the purchase or whatever. So Recapture can help facilitate all of that sort of stuff and yeah, we’ve been doing that since 2015. We have like $169 million we’ve recovered for a variety of different stores and $1.6 billion in gross merchant volume processed.

Has the Creepiness Factor of Being Watching Changed Historically with Customers?

Historically it has shifted. In 2013, abandoned cart recovery was sort of a “new” thing. It wasn’t unheard of, but it definitely wasn’t as ubiquitous as we know today. Nowadays, customers are sophisticated. They expect abandoned cart emails and the really sophisticated ones are gaming the abandoned cart emails and waiting for the discount because they know they’re going to get hit with a series of them. So that aspect of it clearly doesn’t bother people. They know that they’re probably going to get something, so they just sort of wait for the whole thing to come out and then they buy. T

So we’ve clearly shifted consumer behavior. But back in 2013, there was resistance. Both on the merchant and on the buyer’s side, both. They didn’t really understand. Some people thought it was creepy. There was a while when they would question is this email considered spam, is this considered part of the business. Nowadays it’s a little clearer, it’s operating in less of a gray area than it used to be. Pretty much all ESPs qualify abandoned cart emails as transactional, at least the first one. After that it gets to be promotional. So you get a chance to let people know, “Hey, you left the stuff in the cart and it definitely is hugely beneficial to both customers and the stores.”

Abandoned Cart Strategies Need to Tilt to the Favor Merchant

If you’re going to do an abandoned cart solution, you’ve got to tilt it in favor of the merchant. Our goal is, “We want to recover at least 20 times more than what you’re paying us.” Because that is the only way that I feel like this just makes it a no-brainer. You got to make it so insanely valuable that they’re like, “Oh yeah. Totally.”

Sometimes that’s hard. A lot of merchants that want to just send one email and stop, but then I say “Hey, you know, these people actually want to buy from you. So push it it a little bit more. Send maybe two or try three. See if you get more sales out of it.” Don’t limit yourself. There’s definitely this weird reluctance among some merchants and a higher percentage than I would have ever expected before I got into this about, “Oh, I’m bothering my customers, I don’t want to bug them. I don’t want to spam them.” If you’re sending something that’s relevant, you’re not doing that.

Deeply Audience and Vertical Specific

It’s deeply audience and vertical specific. So let me throw out a couple of examples. So we have a store on Recapture that they do aquarium supplies. One of their number one sellers is fish antibiotics. So you can imagine, this is a very time sensitive thing. This guy really understands his audience. If somebody adds this product to their cart, they’re not doing it because, “Oh, maybe I’ll buy this for Christmas.”

No, their fish are sick, they’ve got a problem right now, and they have to deal with it. So he knows if he hits them hard, he’ll send an email at 30 minutes, two hours, six hours, 24 hours, and then follow up a day later than that. So he hits five emails in 48 hours because he knows they need to close this deal and take care of their sick fish, otherwise, they’re in big trouble.

So he deeply understands his audience and hits them with a higher frequency of emails. He’s crushing it with that campaign. It’s 33% conversion.

Then of course whatever they have in their cart, they’ll just buy it too because they’re like, “Oh well you know, I got a sick fish. They need a plant to be happy too.” Whatever. It doesn’t really matter. He does very, very well with that and then other brands. It’s a slow burn, especially if you’re doing stuff with luxury items. They might be thinking about it but it’s something that isn’t super urgent for them to act on and they have to just sit with it for a while.

So sometimes it’s about reminding them about the benefits of the product or telling them all the great things they’ll get to do with the product when they finally get it. Or here are some blog articles about people that are using the product now and what they’re getting out of it. Then eventually they’re into buying it. But there are things that help generate that interest, around Black Friday everybody is like, “20 hours. 20 hours left. Hurry up, everybody clear out your carts.”

But in the middle of the year, it’s around seasonality and just whatever’s going on with the people and that audience and that product at that time. The smart ones are doing promotions and then otherwise they’re just trying to keep people top of mind with other campaigns to say, “Hey, we’re out here. You were shopping at us and maybe you’re still interested in these hobby things over here. Maybe it’s not a burning thing but you’re still interested so we want to let you know that we’re still out here as well.”

The Difference Between Exploiting a Situation and Still Clarifying Product Urgency

There’s a clear product urgency that can be expressed. I don’t want to say exploited, because that’s not the right term. But you can definitely push the urgency button at that point. If you do that with an exercise bike, it’s okay, you can still be fat next week, right? You’re not going to die immediately from that. But it’s a different thing.

So it’s very audience specific and it’s clear that when you’re sending these emails, it doesn’t really matter what kinds of emails you’re sending or what tool you’re using or whether you’re doing broadcasts or promotions or the triggered emails like abandoned carts. The tighter and more personal that you can make it, the more relevant, the higher that conversion is because the person getting it understands that it’s relevant to them, that it belongs to them, that they need something then and that they’ll do something with it. That’s why this guy gets 33% conversion rates on that one email.

Work With Your Clients on Cart Abandonment

We try to make it super easy to get started. So you sign up with us and your campaigns are ready to go. You just click to turn them on. But because we don’t know your store, we don’t know your audience, we don’t know your product and there’s really no way for us to sort of generate that, we’re not going to be using GPT3 to create a bunch of content for you. It’s going to be nonsense if we did anyway.

You have to go back and specifically add some stuff in. We could tell you to put this in here and put this in here and put this in here, and it will work much better, but you still have to have that knowledge. So when somebody comes to us and says, “Hey Dave, our emails, they don’t seem to be at the level that we went them to be at.” I’m like, “Okay. Great. Here’s the next step we can take,” and personalization is it, and just understanding that audience connection to your product or your store makes a huge difference.

When a Competitor Closes It’s Doors and Opens Your Doors

When Jilt, a competitor of Recapture closed up shop, it certainly had an impact for Dave’s business. If you listen to the podcast starting at [23:13], you will hear that part of the story.


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