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Shopping cart abandonment is a major problem for online retailers. The average online shopping cart abandonment rate sits at almost 75%. That means that three out of four consumers who add products to their cart do not complete their purchase, resulting in a huge loss of potential business revenue. Abandoned Cart Retargeting is a way to win back these customers using targeted messaging to encourage them to return to complete their purchase. It is a critical marketing activity for any ecommerce merchant who is serious about maximising their conversion rates.

This article will look at the common reasons customers abandon shopping carts, what retargeting is, and some of the best tactics for reengaging audiences. 

What is Retargeting?

“Retargeting is the holy grail of digital marketing. It’s the solution to shopping cart abandonment.”

Neil Patel, Quick Sprout

With traditional forms of marketing like a television or radio ad, you target a general audience, and it’s not possible to know if the person seeing or hearing your ad has interacted with you before or not. However, in the digital world, retargeting is a marketing strategy that helps brands present ads to people that have already engaged with their site or store. It is essentially a second chance at making a killer first impression with the bonus of creating a more powerful sequential message.

Typically, retargeting is used when somebody visits your site, engages with it, but fails to perform a meaningful action like purchase, fill in a form, or complete a quote.

The form of retargeting we will focus on in this article is Abandoned Cart Retargeting, which reaches out to customers who add items to their shopping cart but don’t buy. We will look at email, social, and display ad retargeting for reengaging customers who abandon their cart. Display & social retargeting are the best solutions for engaging visitors who abandon early in the buying funnel, while email is excellent for customers who express a high buying intent level and abandon later in the checkout process.

Studies show that with effective retargeting, up to 26% of shoppers will return to complete the checkout process, and Abandoned Cart Retargeting ads are consistently the most profitable type of paid ad you can run. In fact, Abandoned Cart Retargeting really can be considered the low-hanging fruit for growing your ecommerce business.

abandoned cart retargeting flow


Cart Abandonment Statistics

As we stated at the start of this post, on average, 75% of e-commerce customers that add items to their cart do not convert. That is a considerable amount of potential revenue and lifetime value for brands to miss out on. On mobile, the shopping cart abandonment rate is 85.65%.

According to Statista, the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the abandonment rate up even more as new digital consumers find their way with online shopping. Some industries now have a cart abandonment rate of over 90%.

Abandoned cart stats


According to another study by Barclaycard, Brits will abandon online baskets worth about £30 per month, resulting in over £18 billion of lost sales per year. In the same study, Barclaycard found that 60% of merchants cannot even identify their average abandonment rate, despite the loss of revenue that it drives.

The good news is that abandoned cart retargeting strategies get some of the best results of any marketing activity.

Cart abandonment email open rates average at around 43.3% when customers are targeted with relevant messages. According to Moosend, 21% of the emails are clicked on, and 10.7% go on to complete a purchase that they initially abandoned.

Website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert than a regular visitor to your online store.

You might worry that you could annoy or pester your customers with retargeting ads, but recent studies show that only 11% of consumers have a negative opinion of retargeting display ads, seeing them as relevant and unintrusive compared to other types of advertising.

Almost 50% of brands are now moving budgets away from traditional display advertising into retargeting.

But before you start your own retargeting campaign, you need to gain an understanding of why shoppers abandon their cart in the first place.

Why do customers abandon & what to do about it?

There are several potential reasons for cart abandonment, from negative reviews, to slow performing sites, to badly optimised sales funnels.


Here we look at five of the most common causes and what you can do to minimise their impact.

1. Unexpected costs & unclear policies

Over half of shoppers say that they abandoned carts because of unexpected costs such as shipping or tax when they reach the checkout.

When a brand is not upfront about costs on the product page, it creates a lack transparency and credibility.

Firstly, make sure that all your store pricing and policies are clear and transparent. Don’t wait until the checkout to add additional costs or to tell customers about shipping and tax. For example, Macy’s gives customers lots of information on shipping and returns, including the threshold they need to reach for free shipping. Thresholds inform the customer and increase the average order value by giving them a goal to aim for to get something for free.


While you don’t want customers to return items, they need to know the process is straightforward if they need to do so. If they order the wrong size, colour, or style, they want reassurance they can return it with minimal effort.

2. Lack of trust

92% of consumers trust word of mouth over brand advertising. If customers see negative peer reviews or the brand lacks social presence, both can put them off continuing with their purchase, regardless of how much they want the product.  

Social proof shows how other people use and speak positively (hopefully!) about your products or services. Social proof includes reviews, testimonials, feedback, shares, followers, and any indication that other people engage with your brand. If you take something like the below example from eBay, the consumer can see a measure of positive feedback, the number of people looking at the product, and how many have been sold already. All of these can influence them to continue to purchase.


Also, you should not underestimate the value of trust signals. When asking customers to complete a transaction, you are asking them to trust you with their personal information. Include the relevant security logos to help them feel comfortable with parting with their data. You will usually see at least one of these trust logos on every secure checkout that you visit.

61% of consumers say they have decided not to purchase something online because the trust logos were missing.

3. Research

Half of online shoppers want better product comparisons from e-commerce sites. With so many options, many consumers will add products to carts on several sites purely for research purposes, possibly coming back on several occasions before deciding where to purchase. Retargeting via ads and emails to remind customers about the items in their cart is a great way to drive them back to your site. For example, J Crew uses social media retargeting to offer a discount to customers who do research as a way of reengaging them.

abandoned cart retargeting discount ad


Following research, it may be the case that your products are more expensive than the competition. Discounts are a good solution for overcoming the problem.

4. Too complicated

Customers will abandon a cart if it is too complicated. According to Baymard Institute, 23% of shoppers leave due to length checkout processes. This includes checkouts that span multiple steps and pages, as well as the need to register an account. 75% of users who use the password retrieval option at checkout never return to the store.

A simple checkout flow is critical to reducing abandonment. Aim for as few clicks as possible and minimal data entry in your checkout process. Postcode lookups, the option to sign-in via Facebook, guest accounts, and fewer pages all help optimize the checkout and reduce your abandonment rate. Amazon can facilitate one-click buying where customers don’t even need to visit a checkout to complete the transaction. Any business that stores customer data has the potential to do the same.

If your shopping cart can’t support one click ordering then singe page checkouts are another good option for minimising abandonment.


Within the checkout, you should try to offer as many different payment options as possible. At a minimum you should offer Credit Card and Paypal options. Some users also now favour digital wallets like Apple and Google Pay when shopping online. Ensure you know how your customers like to pay for goods and offer the option to minimize abandonment.

In the image below Crate & Barrel are a good example of how to offer multiple payment and checkout options.


Mobile commerce accounted for around 45% of the US market in 2020. If consumers want to shop on mobile, you need to take an approach that optimizes the checkout process for their device.

5. Technical difficulties

If the cart or checkout is slow to load, crashes, or won’t accept a particular payment method, visitors are unlikely to come back. 47% of customers expect a page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning the site. 

All of the above reasons for abandonment can be reduced, if not eradicated. Prevention is always better than cure, and it is worth putting effort into fixing the source of the problem before filtering customers into your retargeting funnel.

Once you’ve done everything you can to optimise these elements on your site you can move on to off-site retargeting efforts.

Minimising Cart Abandonment with Pop-Ups

One method for encouraging customers to complete their purchase before they leave your store is using pop-ups. A study by Barilliance found that an exit intent pop-up as somebody attempts to leave the site reminding them about the items they have in their cart is one of the most effective ways to negate abandonment.

Exit intent pop-ups trigger as someone performs an action that indicates they are about to leave your site such as moving their mouse to the Back button.

Offering a discount as someone is about to leave can be very effective too. For example, something like below gives the customer a specific amount of time to place their order before losing out on a discount.


Other brands try to combine the pop-up with creating an email list. In doing so, even if the customer doesn’t complete their purchase immediately, they are encouraged to return with a discount coupon and targeted email marketing over time.


Abandoned Cart Retargeting with Email

Email messaging is an excellent way to target customers who abandon their purchase while filling out the checkout form.

According to Klaviyo, the average e-commerce abandoned cart email earns $5.81 in revenue per recipient.

As a customer fills in the checkout form, the software captures their email address and can start sending automated emails if they do not complete their purchase within around 15 minutes.

Each of the main shopping cart platforms offer methods to retarget cart abandoners via email. Shopify has Abandoned Cart Retargeting Email functionality built in as standard, while Woocommerce & Magento have plugins that allow you to add the functionality.

Marketers can customise the schedule and messages to match their branding. They can remind customers to buy using discounts or create a sense of urgency or scarcity to entice them back to the store. As an example, you might follow a sequence like:

  • 1 hour – a simple email reminding them what they left behind & asking do they need help with their order.
  • 24 hours – again remind the customer of the items in their cart and create a sense of urgency by saying that stock is selling fast.
  • 72 hours – offer a limited time 10% discount on the items in their cart if they buy now.

The challenge for marketers is trying to establish the right number of abandoned cart emails to send. While you are trying to maximise your sales, you don’t want to cross the line of annoying customers and pushing them away for life. Evidence suggests that two or three emails are best for engaging customers and increasing revenue.

abandoned cart retargeting email stats


The first email in the series generally achieves over 60% open rate, comfortably above most industry benchmarks. By the time we reach email four, open rates are still high but then start to drop off quickly. At this point, sending more emails may begin to cause reputational damage as customers may begin to see it as spam.

To get the most out of your emails, you need to have smart and relevant creatives and content. 64% of people will decide if they open an email based purely on the subject line.

abandoned cart retargeting email open & click rate


A reminder that the recipient left something behind gains the highest open rate, click rate, and revenue per recipient of those tested with abandoned cart emails. This is typically the best starting point, keeping it straightforward and the point. You can try emojis and discounts as part of the campaign and see where they work best in the journey. Variations of “left something behind” could be:

  • Your [PRODUCT NAME] is waiting for you
  • [NAME] we’ve saved your cart
  • [NAME] your cart wants you back
  • We’re ready if you are

Adding a touch of personalisation is always useful if you have the data. According to one study, a personalised subject line can boost open rates by 50%. Sometimes you won’t have the customer name until later in the journey. Bed retailer Casper brilliantly tie their subject line into the type of product they are selling.

Casper abandoned cart retargeting email example


When sending an abandoned cart email, it is essential to add product images to remind customers what they intended to purchase. If they are researching items, there is every chance they forgot what the product looks like through making so many comparisons. Images remind them about the item and make it look more appealing than plain text notifications.

Microsoft abandoned cart retargeting email example


In the example above from Microsoft, you can clearly see the cart items and can click a button to go straight back to your cart.

Doggyloot use several marketing tricks to tempt their abandoned cart customers back to the site. First, there is a reminder style subject line including the company name, followed by a fear of missing out message saying “items you added to your cart are almost sold out,” and then images of the products asking the visitor not to disappoint their dog.

Doggyloot abandoned cart retargeting email example


Abandoned Cart Retargeting with social media and display network ads

If you visit an online store and then start to see images and ads for the products you looked at on other sites as you browse the web, that is display network retargeting. These ads can also be set up to appear in your visitor’s news feeds on social media networks such as Facebook & Instagram.

A retargeting ad has ten times the click-through rate of a typical online ad because they are highly relevant to the viewer. If you set up everything correctly, conversion rates on retargeting could be as high as 33%.

Abandoned Cart Retargeting on Facebook & Instagram

Facebook and Instagram have a vast reach and are two of the most popular channels for retargeting ads. According to Wishpond, around 44% of Facebook users’ purchasing decisions are influenced by ads they see on social media, and up to 26% of Facebook users who click an ad on the platform go on to make a purchase.

As Instagram is owned by Facebook, you only have to create one ad to target people on both networks at once.

To start with Facebook retargeting, you need to install the Facebook Pixel. A pixel is a small bit of code that goes on your website, connecting it to your Facebook Business Page. Using the code, any data that either platform collects can automatically be synced, enabling a retargeting strategy. When you go to your Ads Manager page on Facebook, you will find a Pixels section that guides you through setting it up.

Install facebook pixel to enable abandoned cart retargeting


Once the Facebook Pixel is set up on your store it can start recording events. The events we are most interested in for retargeting are viewing a product, add to cart and completing a purchase. This event data is passed to Facebook where we can use it to set up a custom audience to target.

Next you will need to create a product feed on your website that contains info about your catalog of products. This will include descriptions, stock levels, prices, sizes, images, etc. Facebook will sync with this product feed and use the info it contains to dynamically fill the ads with info about the product your visitor viewed.

If using Shopify, I recommend the Facebook Product Feed by Flexify plugin to sync your products to Facebook. WooCommerce has a similar plugin called PixelYourSite. You can also create and maintain a feed in Microsoft Excel that you manually upload to Facebook. This works for smaller stores, but you will have to remember to update it regularly yourself as your catalog and stock levels change. 

Now Facebook is receiving data on actions (events) your visitors are performing on your store, and it has the info it needs about your products. The final piece of the puzzle creating a Dynamic Product Ad.

Dynamic Product Ads use data from your Facebook Pixel to create an audience of people who performed a particular set of actions on your store, and uses info from your product feed to dynamically create an ad featuring the products they viewed.

In this case we will use Dynamic Product Ads to target visitors who added a product to their cart but didn’t complete their purchase. We will populate the ad with an image and info about the product or products they had in their cart, along with messaging to encourage them to return to complete their purchase. When the customer clicks on the Dynamic Product Ad they are taken directly back to the correct product page on your website.

Skullcandy abandoned cart retargeting ad


The exact step by step process for setting up retargeting on Facebook is beyond the scope of this article, but Facebook offers a comprehensive set of guides to setting up your dynamic ads.

With their immense reach and the ability to laser target customers who abandon carts, Facebook Retargeting should form part of every ecommerce marketing strategy.

Abandoned Cart Retargeting on Google Display Network

Although they have a vast reach, not all of your customers will be regularly active on Facebook and Instagram. Retargeting on Google’s Display Network works similarly to retargeting on Facebook, except your visitors will see your ads on 3rd party websites that are part of the display network rather than in their social media feeds.

Google Display Network reaches about 90% of people on the internet, making it a very powerful retargeting tool.

It is set up in much the same way as Facebook, by installing the Google Remarketing tracking code, creating and syncing a product feed, and creating dynamic ads to targeting cart abandoners.

If you have already set up a product feed for Facebook then the good news is the same feed will work for Google Remarketing too.

Abandoned Cart Retargeting flow on Google Display Network


Again, we wont go into the step by step process for setting up Google retargeting ads here, but Ad Espresso offers a full guide on how to set it up.

Once your retargeting ads are created you can chose to run them as a combined shopping campaign across Google’s display network as well as on all of Google’s properties, giving your retargeting ads incredible reach.



Tops tips for Google Ads Retargeting

  1. Narrow your audience – before starting a campaign, segment your audiences to ensure they get tailored content. Relevance is key to re-engaging with cart abandonment. For example, you can target people who had multiple items in their cart, those who viewed more than 10 products on your site, those that visited more or less than 3 days ago, etc. You can test and tailor your messaging to each of these segments to maximise your conversion rates.
  2. Offer discounts – remarketing with Google Ads tends to work well when non-buyers see a discount offer or options for free shipping. You could vary your discount depending on whether the audience member is a new user or an existing customer.
  3. Test and learn – Just like with any pay-per-click or social media campaign, you will need to test content and see what works best for your audiences. Continually try different ads and monitor the results to optimise them.


Although digital remarketing channels are fast and effective, old school methods still have a place. If your shopper has entered a phone number before they abandoned their cart, why not simply give them a call? It is not quite a cold call as they have already engaged with your brand, and you might find there is a genuine mistake that has caused them not to place the order. For example, they may have run into some technical issue or had to pop out and then forgot to come back to your site.

You should approach calls softly and not push for the sale. Start by inquiring about the products in the cart and ask if you can help them in any way.

Be prepared to take payment details over the phone as many will order there and then. Even if they don’t purchase most will appreciate the call and you will gain priceless insights into why they didn’t complete their purchase.


  • Over 70% of consumers will abandon a site without making a purchase.
  • Abandoned Cart Retargeting targets customers who add items to their shopping cart but don’t buy, and encourages them to return to complete their purchase.
  • Customers will abandon their cart due to unexpected costs, technical issues, a lack of trust, or complicated processes at checkout.
  • Prevention is better than cure. Optimise your site and your messaging to minimise cart abandonment in the first place.
  • A retargeting ad has ten times the click-through rate of a typical marketing ad.
  • Abandoned Cart Retargeting ads are consistently the most profitable type of paid ad you can run.
  • The average e-commerce abandoned cart email is worth $5.81 in revenue per recipient.
  • Bonus tip: If your customer left a phone number, give them a call and find out why they abandoned first-hand.