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Written By Julius Somoye
4 minute read

As much as $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned online this year. Not all of that can be clawed back, and this isn’t solely an issue for retailers. Total cart abandonment rates are 67%. However, for retail, that number soars to nearly 75%. Only the travel industry has consistently higher cart abandonment rates than retail, and clothing items are the most abandoned item of them all.  

If you get your shopping cart abandonment strategies right, it can be a big boost to your bottom line. Minimising shopping cart abandonment isn’t about ‘just one thing’. However, almost every channel and avenue you take to tackle the problem of lost sales due to indecision can benefit from promotions. 

Here, we are going to explain the role that promo codes play in reducing shopping cart abandonment and driving sales online. You will learn how to get started, what to do and where to go next. Let’s begin!

Tackle the root of the problem: Cost

If you’re serious about tackling shopping cart abandonment, you need to get just as serious about its causes. It can’t be denied that a lot of shopping cart abandonment results from the way shoppers treat their shopping carts. Many individuals simply treating their ‘cart’ as a ‘wish list’ -- or ‘save for later’ list. These are the shoppers who can be hardest to convert. This is often because they were never really all that serious about making a purchase in the first place. 

That ‘s not to say that offering a deal won’t push some hesitant shoppers one step closer to conversion. But you shouldn’t assume this is the only reason shoppers abandon their carts. Promotional codes can tackle cart abandonment by driving down costs to the buyer. But if you’re not quite ready to take a hit on your profit margin, there are other costs which could be cut to benefit the buyer. 

For example, 23% of shoppers cite unexpected extra costs like taxes, fees or shipping & handling as the reason why they don’t initiate the checkout process. Offering free shipping can go a long way towards removing this barrier. It helps you to pull prices back to meet customer expectations without diminishing the value and reputation of your products. 


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Send emails and use onsite promotions

Emails are an extremely effective way of getting lapsed customers to re-engage with abandoned carts. They serve both as a reminder and a powerful incentive, especially if the email contains a sweetener like a promotional code. Believe it or not, 28.3% of all ecommerce revenue comes from abandoned cart emails to which shoppers have positively responded. 


The timing is right

Statistics show that emails are most effective when sent 30 minutes after cart abandonment. If that doesn’t work, try sending one 24 hours after and again 48 hours after. You can choose to either attach a promotional code to your outbound email or use an onsite promo that pops up when the shopper returns to your website.

You can even A/B test different emails, with some email copy and promo codes intended for specific shoppers and some for your general audience. 

The good news is that the software to generate unique promo codes can integrate with your CRM to make automating this process quick and easy.

Up your game: scarcity marketing and personalisation 

Another fundamental cause of shopping cart abandonment is abundance. Abundance of stock and an abundance of competition. Shoppers have become conditioned to hunt for bargains and find the best deals of their own accord. They know just how fickle they can afford to be and imagine that there’s always a better deal out there so long as they take the time to look for it.  

Scarcity marketing, however, leverages buyers’ fear of missing out while assuring them that the best deal is the one in front of them right here, right now. And with the right promos you can seriously get shoppers off the fence.

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Ticking clocks and shifting stocks

Time sensitive promos can also be effective in reminding shoppers that the great offers you’re sending their way won’t be around forever. Likewise, alerting shoppers to limited stock availability is a great way to encourage decisive buying action. 

These kinds of promos are already inherently personalised. However, things like using shoppers’ names in your emails or sending them at times when you know they’ll be likely to open them can make this even more personalised without seeming uncanny or creepy.

Of course, that’s not the only way in which you can tackle shopping cart abandonment through personalisation. You can try offering bundles with other products you think they might like, increasing the value of the cart as a whole while also creating great upselling opportunities.

Keep your promotions exclusive with unique codes

Historically, one of the biggest problems with using promotional codes to target cart abandonment has been misuse. If promo codes are leaked, they can be used by people for whom they were never intended.

Not only do unique, single-use promo codes help you to sidestep a lot of the issues that usually come with promo codes, they lend themselves very well to cart abandonment strategies.

In fact, they’re pretty much critical.

To action these strategies effectively, you need to create unique single-use codes to prevent promo code misuse and ensure that only the intended recipient gets to use them. But because you’re sending out high volumes of codes, you also need the automation capabilities to send out promo codes at the rate and frequency necessary to target abandoned carts.

Unique promo codes are particularly important when it comes to personalisation and scarcity marketing. Because shoppers know that a code is just for them, it inherently has more value, and a sense of exclusivity. What’s more, when it’s only available for a limited time (software will allow you to create codes that last for days or minutes), it becomes much more appealing to shoppers who don’t want to miss out.

Just make sure you don’t make shopping cart abandonment a habit 

Promo codes can be a very effective way of targeting card abandonment, but they can also be something of a double edged sword. The biggest potential pitfall when it comes to offering discounts to help limit shopping cart abandonment is the implied message when you do it frequently.

If you send a generous promo code their way every time they give up on a cart, you’re unwittingly training shoppers to abandon their carts in anticipation of discount offerings. And that can throw a pretty hefty spanner in the works and actually impede sales volume. 

One way to avoid this is to not offer discounts every time you alert shoppers to an abandoned cart. By all means, send out your emails to remind shoppers about cart abandonment, but only offer promotions every now and then. That way customers won’t think that cart abandonment is just another part of the shopping process and they will see more value in promo codes when they are offered! 

Implementing these tactics strategically using unique single-use promo codes will ensure you can convince hesitant shoppers to complete purchases, show them you value them and prevent promo code misuse — so your margins don’t take a hit! Instead, you can target abandoned carts and increase your revenue. 

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