Customer recovery and abandonment efforts start earlier than the cart

The concept of customer and cart recovery is where we make some sort of effort to recover users lost in the purchasing process.

We offer inducements to get moving, countdowns to create urgency and emails to remind them to come back and swipe their credit cards.

And all of this important and I am yet to experience where such cart abandonment efforts have not delivered noticeable uplift.

These approaches to cart abandonment are generally engaged once the user has added a product to their cart and/or started the checkout process; and that makes sense because the user has clearly indicated that they’re prepared to shop with you.


Can cart abandonment start earlier in the process?

One of my observations about my own personal shopping – especially on the weekend – is that I graze, across multiple websites. This is not only true of clothes, though most categories.

As I see new items and ideas, it prompts me to reach out further and further and before you know it, I have 15 tabs open across everything from ASOS to Mr Porter to Frankie’s Shoes.

This doesn’t however mean that I buy something or anything, or at least not at that point in time.

Because after spending 30, 40 maybe 60 minutes browsing, something invariably happens:

  • I am distracted by one of my two boys.
  • I become bored/overwhelmed by it all.
  • I am distracted by one of my two boys.
  • I become bored/overwhelmed by it all.


Though just because I have closed the screen of my laptop or turned off my tablet to read the paper or do Lego with the boys  doesn’t mean all is lost for these websites.

I just need time to reset and/or see something I like or need in order to reignite the excitement and process of buying online.

My pretty consistent experience, pretty much whenever I wake my laptop or tablet, is that the browser tabs from my previous session of incomplete are still open; all 15 or so of them. And being a reasonably good housekeeper of my browser, I start to close the tabs, erasing my previous afternoon’s investment online shopping, one tab at time.

Considering this, two things you might do on your own eCommerce website, assuming my browsing patterns are not alone:

  1. If users have been on your website for some time and you can see them grazing, offer them an incentive to add a product to cart and close the transaction.
  2. If a particular product or category page has laid dormant for too long leading you to suspect that the customer has moved on, introduce an eye-catching inducement that the customer will see as new, the next time they revisit the tab.

    Even if the intention of the customer was to close the tab, they will see your recently refreshed page and incentive and therein lies your chance to re-engage the customer and excite them to shop again.


I appreciate that number two is slightly tenuous, though if your incentive is to remove all roadblocks and clear the path to purchase, with 10% off and a promise of delivery within 48 hours, this might be enough to make the customer pause.

In any event, whatever you do, consider tricks (and not just ‘good’ UX’) to convert users from browsers to buyers: customer recovery and abandonment tactics start earlier than checkout.