From 10% to 55%: how I increased my abandoned cart recovery rate

About The Author

Ahmad Iqbal

Ahmad Iqbal

Co-founder and Product/Marketing at Shop Phone. Growth consultant. Every now and again I write about the small business advantage.

As the title of the post suggests I’m going to be talking about one improvement I’ve implemented which I feel has made probably the best impact on revenue. Not only in recovering of abandoned carts but also increasing the average cart value that each successful customer checks out with.

The tip is: Just call your abandoned cart customer!

I just picked up the phone and dialled the number they provided in their checkout process.

This is beneficial for several reasons:

  1. Most importantly, you’re getting in front of your customer and closing the feedback loop. Why did they end up abandoning? In one example of feedback, a customer didn’t know I offered a complimentary product they needed. It was difficult to find. After that feedback I optimized my site to feature that product more, and almost overnight my average cart value increased by about $20. Customer collaboration is key.
  2. It feels personal. If they have gone as far as to fill in their shipping information and/or their billing information it tells you they were highly intent on purchasing. They won’t get mad for receiving a call if you’re proactively trying to solve an issue for them.
  3. It makes your brand authentic. As a small business owner, and as a sole proprietor, my customers get to know who I am and get to understand my business and my operations a bit better. This builds a relationship.
  4. It provides you an opportunity to up-sell. Just yesterday I had three abandoned carts; and two had left their phone numbers. One of them recovered their cart after I addressed some of their concerns; and the second one recovered their cart while also increasing their cart from $60 value to $240 value. This isn’t an unusual occurrence, it happens every day now.
  5. It’s built my confidence in talking with potential customers. Now I look forward to abandoned carts because I get to talk to people!

There are a few common responses that get when I share this advice:

  1. How many people actually leave their phone numbers? About 75% of my customers provided it (this may be because popular browsers now auto-fill a lot of this information for them). Since I’ve had success with calling, I’ve changed the phone number field from optional to required. If your current setting is to keep that field hidden, you’re leaving money and feedback on the table!
  2. I’m too shy to call people. So was I! But building and growing a business is about the personal struggle, too. Growth does not come to those who stay in their comfort zone. There is a great book about this by Ryan Holiday, “The Obstacle is the Way.”
  3. People don’t want to be bothered over the phone. Incorrect, they are OK with it if you’re about to solve their issue. Again, if they took the time to fill out those forms on your website, it means they are interested. It’s not a cold call, it’s a HOT call. Think about ads you see on TV. People hate ads because most of the time those products are totally irrelevant to us. But if there was an ad for something we just realized we need — people appreciate that (this is why niche products are easy to market through online marketing).
  4. What do you say when they pick up? “Hi, my name is Ahmad and I’m calling as a courtesy from [my store name], I see you are interested in purchasing [items in their cart]. Do you have any questions I can answer, or concerns I can address?” And then let the customer lead the conversation from there — and take notes! If you want a more detailed script, I have another post here with two sample scripts you can start using right away.

The lowest hanging fruit

A Shopify blog talked about this a few years ago, about how 67.45% of all shopping carts get abandoned. Abandoned carts are probably the lowest hanging fruit for any merchant to convert. Customers are highly qualified leads that have already signaled they want to buy your product. For some reason on the final page before clicking the “buy” button they decided to close the tab instead. Luckily through platforms like Shopify, if they wrote their email/phone number before closing the tab, that information is provided to you.

There has been a standardized/automated method of recovering abandoned carts. Shopify actually offers a service which auto-emails anyone who abandoned their cart after a six- or 24-hour time delay. It’s a good feature, but still highly flawed. The problem with auto email is the recovery rate is only about 5–15%. I noticed three reasons for this:

  1. Most importantly, an email doesn’t really solve the problem or address the concern they may have had. Sure, if they thought the price was a bit too high, or didn’t anticipate the shipping fee, and your auto-email gives a discount, this could work. But as I’ve learned, price is just one of many reasons why someone abandons their cart.
  2. I find lots of people enter an old email address they rarely ever check; lots of abandoned cart emails actually never get opened.
  3. A tech savvy customer can likely spot an auto-email when they see one, which loses an authenticity factor that today’s online customers hold in regard. I.e. a customer types their name in all caps, or all lower case, and that is what the auto-email repeats.
  4. Auto-emails are great for merchants who are doing thousands or dollars in revenue per day, who probably get hundreds of abandoned carts per day. 10–20% recovery rate still means thousands of dollars without having to lift a finger. But for the majority of us “sub-100k” per year businesses, we should be calling. (Side note: since I’ve started calling up customers, my current revenue rate has pushed me over the 100k per year mark).

For the above reasons I’ve concluded that every single eCommerce retailer should be calling customers who abandoned their carts.

It has been a little over a year since I made my first eCommerce sale through Shopify. Through incremental improvements, like this one, each month I beat my previous month’s revenue. I’m still not where I want to be with my business, but it is growing and I’m excited for the future.

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