What is shopping cart abandonment?

Anyone who works in ecommerce knows the frustration of a customer getting almost all the way there to a purchase—only to abandon it for one reason or another, ending their shopping session with a full cart. Depending on your inventory management system, this can actually be a hassle, tying up merchandise and effectively putting it on hold for a customer who may not come back to complete the purchase. Even if that isn’t the case, it’s frustrating to almost close a sale only for it to fizzle out at the last minute. Further on we’ll go into why customers may abandon their orders and ways you can reduce your shopping cart abandonment rates, but first we’ll look at another possible action you can undertake: abandoned cart recovery.

What is abandoned cart recovery?

Sometimes your customers may abandon their purchase because they’ve simply chosen not to make that purchase. In most instances that’s out of your control. But sometimes customers just get distracted and those leads can be warmed back up with a simple reminder. Abandoned cart recovery gives your customers a way to pick back up where they left off, and often just reminding them of the items in their cart is enough to get them back into the purchase mindset.

What causes cart abandonment?

Additional (or hidden) costs

People hate the bait-and-switch. Whether it’s processing fees, delivery costs, or whatever else, if your customers have a price expectation in mind only to get to the checkout and discover bloated costs, that may lead them to abandon their purchase and go shopping elsewhere.

What to do: Display fees in the cart (or earlier)

The best way to overcome this obstacle is to be very clear about what costs your customers may incur. That may mean displaying potential shipping costs and fees in your product listing so there’s no big surprise. If you find this is a recurring issue, there may be a need to evaluate your logistics to figure out how to reduce costs—or even build fees in the price of the product to offset the sticker shock.

Poor delivery or return policies

Depending on your product, some people may want to try on or test out your product. If you don’t have a clear return policy, that may lead people to look for a better policy elsewhere. If you find that returns are a point of friction for your business operations, you may be unknowingly impacting your bottom line.

Delivery may also be an issue for some people. In the age of one- or two-day shipping, a longer wait can be frustrating, although most people are understanding of usual shipping windows and are often willing to wait longer for a product as long as they’re made aware of it up front. As a bonus, include a shipping SMS template in your after-purchase strategy.

What to do: Make your return policy crystal clear

Being upfront about your return policy will help you and your customers. Find out what works best for your business operations, even if you need to make some concessions. Even if your return policy is strict, being clear about that will be better than being muddy about it.

Technical bugs and glitches

Often customers may run into issues logging in, making an account, remembering a password, or run into some other problem. There may also be bugs in the ordering process that cause payment not to go through or display incorrect information.

What to do: Allow guest checkout

Allowing customers to check out without an account is often a good workaround for people who run into problems with their account. In this age of targeted marketing, you may also have a fair amount of customers who are wary of making yet another account, remembering another password, and getting on another mailing list, so allowing guest checkout will cater to those customers who may be more privacy-minded as well.

Overcomplicated ordering and checkout processes

It’s important to regularly review your own ordering and checkout process to make sure there’s nothing wrong or unintuitive with how it flows. If your ordering and checkout processes are overcomplicated or unclear, you could be leaving money on the table.

What to do: Assess your current processes and allow customers to track their progress

A progress bar or step counter may help alleviate some concerns. Try simplifying your process into just a few steps and making those steps very clear—cart, shipping information, payment, review. And for customers who already have an account, you may be able to skip some of those steps if they have saved shipping and payment information. Most ecommerce platforms will allow this or already have it included in the process, but it’s good to review. You may also find it helpful to include a way for customers to leave feedback about the process and get help when stuck.

Payment processing problems

Payment processing issues are a leading cause of cart abandonment. If people can’t pay with their preferred method, they often don’t want to work through the issues or they literally cannot move forward with their purchase.

What to do: Offer preferred payment options

Make sure you are offering enough payment options for your customers. These days that may go farther than Visa and Mastercard; you may want to offer more mobile-friendly payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay or PayPal. Again, most modern ecommerce framework should allow this kind of flexibility. If your site doesn’t have it, you should evaluate how you can modernize your payment process for your customers.

What should I do: Guarantee data security?

Again, this is part of running a modern business online—you must protect your customers’ data as best you can. That means at the bare minimum making sure your site is secure overall with HTTPS and using trusted payment processing services. If you’re storing any sort of customer data, you must take care of that data and make sure it’s properly encrypted. It may be easier to coast by, but with a data breach your business reputation could nosedive in a heartbeat. If you don’t know if your site is secure, it probably isn’t.

Abandoned cart text messages vs emails

Now we get to the good part—how to get your customers to pick back up where they left off and restore abandoned shopping carts. The traditional ways to do that are to save the cart for next time they log on, or to send a reminder over email. The problem is that email can turn into a wasteland, and your customers get so many marketing messages daily from the dozens of other stores they shop at that your message can get lost in the mix. 

Text, however, offers a new opportunity to actually convert. 98% of texts get opened—95% within three minutes. A quick text message can turn into a completed sale in a fraction of the time, with the added benefit of opening up a line of communication that can resolve any other issues your customer may have.

Best practices and abandoned cart text message examples

Following are some tips and best practices, as well as some examples of messages you could send. Obviously, these depend on the circumstances and you may find that some work really well for your business compared to others. This just applies to recovering potential business from abandoned shopping carts, but there are tons of other great SMS marketing tips that will help you on your way too. Check out our other SMS marketing guide, our SMS marketing templates, or our SMS for customer service article that go beyond abandoned carts.

Offer alternatives.

You may be able to offer alternatives or alert your customers of other colors, styles, or similar products to get them shopping again. 

abandoned cart text template

“Hi Gerri, you have three items in your shopping cart. We also thought you might be interested in x.”

Make your copy shine

Keep it succinct, familiar, and friendly. Don’t get overly salesy, and try to sound like a real person—because you are! 

abandoned cart sms template

“Keri, pick up where you left off with items in your shopping cart. Is there anything I can help you find?”

Give a clear call to action

Provide a direct link to their shopping cart and let them know they can text back with questions or concerns. 

abandoned cart text sample

“Click here to check out the items left in your cart: pdm.com/shpcrt. Text back at this number if you have any questions!”

Use reviews and social proof

You may be able to pique interest in your customers’ selections by reminding them what was exciting about the product in the first place. 

abandoned cart sms sample

“One review says ‘It was exactly what I needed!’ Don’t forget to finish checkout—your cart is waiting here: [URL]”

Offer a coupon but only at the right time

A small discount may be enough to push people over the edge and help them make the decision. Try it out and see what works.

abandoned cart text template example

 “Take an additional 10% off your cart in the next 24 hours.”

Address potential objections

This could be a great opportunity for you to learn what might be stopping your customers from completing a purchase. A customized message can help with this. 

abandoned cart text template sample

“You have 6 items in your cart. Click the link to pick up where you left off, or text us back if you had any issues checking out.”

Optimize for mobile

Make sure your purchase process is mobile-friendly, and text will work even better. If you send an abandoned cart SMS reminder that leads your customers to a full-sized web page, you won’t be doing yourself any favors.

Create urgency

Offering short-term deals or even just wording your text in a time-sensitive way can help convert. 

abandoned cart text template

“Don’t lose your place—your items are waiting for you in your shopping cart.” Or, “Inventory is running low. Finish your purchase here before it’s too late.”


Text can be a powerful ally when used to close and convert abandoned carts. Keep it short and sweet and you’ll provide value for your valued customers, as well as boost your revenue.

Isaiah Rendorio
Isaiah Rendorio Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns

Isaiah Rendorio is the Product Marketing Manager for Podium Campaigns—helping local businesses tap into the power of SMS marketing to strengthen customer relationships, increase customer lifetime value, and drive more revenue.

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