Does Leaving an Item in Your Online Cart Really Get You a Discount?

If you’re an online shopper, you’ve likely encountered this situation: You add an item to your cart but don’t finish the purchase. Perhaps you hesitated or got sidetracked. Then, the next day, you find an email from the retailer reminding you about the item.

And (hooray!) within that email, you’ll find a discount code awaiting you upon completing your purchase!

Known as a shopping cart abandonment discount, it’s retailers’ chance to reclaim almost-lost customers.

““76% of shoppers abandon carts just before checkout, costing U.S. retailers billions yearly,” states Kartik Ramachandran, VP of Product at Bolt, an e-commerce checkout solutions platform. Bolt also offers shopper retention tools.. 

For consumers, the appeal is evident: savings! In fact, the prevalence of shopping cart abandonment promotions has led some to intentionally leave items in their carts to secure discounts. We ponder: How effective is this strategy?

How frequently do retailers issue such offers? Are these deals enticing and frequent enough to warrant intentionally abandoning online shopping carts?

Our Survey Results: Expect Cart Abandonment Discounts One-Fourth of the Time

Throughout March and April 2023, our editorial team filled online shopping carts at 107 diverse stores, spanning beauty, fashion, tech, and home goods. We then monitored the discounts offered on abandoned carts. Here are our findings:

  • 24 stores of the 107 stores sent us abandon cart discounts (a 22% success rate). Note: Plenty of others sent us re-engagement emails encouraging us to complete our purchase, but we counted ONLY those that sent us discounts.
  • The lowest discount we received was 5% off.
  • The highest offer we received was 25% off.
  • The average discount was 15% off. The most common discount was 20% off. 
  • Of the 24 stores that sent us cart abandonment offers, four of them sent us an initial offer and then, the next day, a higher offer (all were 5% higher than the initial offer). 
  • The amount of time varied between cart abandonment and the offer landing in our inboxes, but, in general, the soonest was within an hour and the latest was 72 hours.
  • MOST of the stores that sent us cart abandonment offers sent us an offer within an hour. The second-most common response time was between 24 and 48 hours. 
  • We got offers from a wide variety of merchants, but most of those that sent us offers were direct-to-consumer brands and those selling higher-priced items.
banner reads save 20% off when you take your cart home
Image: Screenshot of Abandoned Cart Email Offer

Retailers strategically plan offers behind the scenes, considering factors like cart abandonment triggers and delivery methods tailored to each shopper’s device. This minimizes friction in the shopping experience, as noted by Ramachandran.

“He emphasizes that a simplified process boosts merchants’ revenue and conversions while enhancing shoppers’ experiences. This holds special significance for mobile shoppers, as smaller screens often correlate with higher abandonment rates.

Moreover, although numerous businesses employ cart abandonment offers, Ramachandran highlights that enterprise merchants with substantial traffic and high average order values can reap the greatest benefits from these conversion optimization tools. Typically, pricier items such as luxury goods, travel, and automobiles are abandoned more frequently than lower-priced items.”

Important Things Shoppers Should Know About Abandoned-Cart Offers

As with any codes, abandoned cart offers and codes have restrictions:

  • Tailored cart abandonment offers, typically alphanumeric, are exclusive and single-use. Stores may provide a unique code or a personalized link for purchase completion, ensuring discounts remain individualized and non-transferable.
  • Ensure you meet your deadline. Verify the expiry date of cart abandonment codes stated in the email you’ve received, as they have a limited validity period.
  • Be aware of the fine print. While certain codes apply solely to the initially added item, others extend to your entire cart, albeit with some restrictions. Clearance items and gift cards may be exceptions.

Advice for Getting (and Using) Cart Abandonment Offers to Your Advantage

Having learned about cart abandonment offers and their frequency, you might feel inclined to accumulate them. Before adopting this strategy, consider these tips for a proactive shopping approach.

  1. Anticipate. If you require an item urgently, waiting for a cart abandonment discount ranging from one hour to 72 hours might not be feasible. Therefore, if you need shoes for an upcoming event, initiate your search early to ensure ample time for both waiting for the discount and timely shipping
  2. Maximize your savings strategically. While many stores offer sign-up discounts via email, most don’t allow stacking offers. Utilize the email sign-up discount first, then leverage the cart abandonment discount for subsequent purchases.
  3. Wait a couple of days following the initial offer. We discovered that several stores provided improved offers after disregarding the initial one. Therefore, if you receive an initial offer, review its expiration date and, if you have a few days, wait up to 72 hours to potentially receive a better offer.
  4. Avoid exploiting cart abandonment discounts to justify unnecessary purchases. A discount ranging from 5% to 20% shouldn’t tempt you into buying costly items you don’t require. Utilize these discounts for genuine necessities or planned splurges within your budget.
  5. Consider the value of the discount in comparison to existing deals. If the desired item is already discounted or there’s a substantial promo code available, prioritize immediate savings over potential cart abandonment discounts. Reserve cart abandonment codes for non-discounted items or when no promo codes are active.

First and foremost, bear in mind that receiving cart abandonment discount codes isn’t guaranteed. Our research indicates they occur approximately one-fourth of the time. So, refrain from committing to a purchase without a discount. If you don’t receive one, consider waiting for a sale, clearance, or a lucrative cash back offer (ideally, all three).

Recommended Arcticle: Exactly How to (Legally) Remove a Security Tag When a Store Forgets

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