Last update: May 2021

5 mins to read - 2019/05/28

Tips on Using eCommerce Push Notifications to Reduce Abandoned Carts

Push notifications can be a crucial tool to drive customers back to your eCommerce app and pick up their abandoned shopping carts, a widespread problem. We’ve all been there: you’re shopping online for something you absolutely need… say, tickets to go see that Newest, Hottest Band touring in your city, one night only. You add the tickets to your shopping cart, and you click continue to move along to checkout. All is going swimmingly, and then you hit a stumbling block.

Maybe you can’t find your credit card. Maybe the doorbell rings and you get distracted. Either way, you leave your prospective purchase in the shopping cart without following through. You might receive an email reminding you that your shopping cart is waiting for you, but you tell yourself you’ll get around to that later. Days pass, then weeks. By the time you can spare the attention to finish your purchases, tickets are sold out. You’re despondent.

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Newest, Hottest Band…. best gig ever.

Combat Cart Abandonment Rates With eCommerce Push Notifications

According to, shopping cart abandonment occurs with roughly 79% of all eCommerce shopping occasions. Purchases made in the travel sector, as in airline flights, are abandoned nearly 88% percent of the time. That number can be even higher when it comes to mobile eCommerce. It’s essentially the digital version of window shopping, but what accounts for such a widespread amount of cold feet?

According to a study by Baymard Institute, there are a variety of different factors that can lead to a shopping cart being abandoned. The #1 driving factor is, understandably, unexpected costs, such as taxes, shipping fees, etc.

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While this may seem like a non-issue, this results in a staggering $4.6 trillion worth of sales that could have potentially gone through. Even accounting for window shoppers who were only browsing in the first place, checkout optimization – that is, streamlining your checkout process, being forthright with any fees in place, letting customers purchase as guests instead of logging in, etc. – can recover $260 billion of eCommerce sales.

However, once you have done all you can do in optimizing the checkout experience for your customers, there’s another approach you can take to draw them back to their abandoned shopping cart: push notifications.

Push Notifications: Optimize Your eCommerce App

We’ve talked before about how push notifications solve various pain points presented by email or SMS campaigns. For example, depending on where you’re located, SMS messages can cost your user money to receive, or run afoul of spam laws. Emails are easily ignored, they can stack up in an inbox, and frustrated users may unsubscribe.

Push notifications, on the other hand, can be specifically triggered to go out towards eCommerce app users at specific times when they might be most likely to pick up their purchases again. Depending on what exactly the user’s actions on your app were, you will want to tailor your push notifications to successfully woo them back.

For example, sometimes a user may have only visited a single page item in your app, and then left without committing. In this case, they may still be worth pursuing as a potential customer. In this scenario, you’re best taking a subtle approach instead of directly hassling them to buy something. Send links to a webpage explaining your brand vision, or direct them to blog posts that might interest them.

More Specific Cases

If a visitor to your app was browsing at a specific item, which never made it to their shopping cart, they may just need some gentle pushing to bring them back. These could be polite invitations to visit the site and browse through related items: “Hey, we noticed you’re interested in Newest, Hottest Band. Maybe you’d like to check out Newest, Hottest Band’s limited edition greatest hits album.” And in cases like these, a small discount code could be the push they need to make the purchase.

Newest, Hottest Band… the Reunion Tour


In the case of a shopping cart that has been filled and abandoned, you have many other options. This is generally where timed push notifications come in handy, because sometimes the time just wasn’t right and the e-shopper will appreciate a reminder. In these instances, make sure you observe the golden rule of sending notifications at the convenient time for the user… NOT for you. 6-12 hours can be a good rule of thumb, and then again around 24-48 hours.

This is where you would send reminder notifications, complete with deep links that take them straight to checkout, that they have items waiting for them in their shopping cart.

Check out OpenBack’s user-centric delivery moment triggers, leverage event and analytics tags, and much more that will help you gauge the correct moment and type of push notifications you’ll send out.

Writing Your Push Notification Reminders

A little flattery can go a long way, as can playing on people’s sense of FOMO. Start off with a personalized greeting: “Francine, you have great taste in music!” Then, you can light a fire under them: “Tickets to Newest, Hottest Band’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Concert are selling out fast! Hurry grab yours before someone else does!”

A time-sensitive discount code could also work in this instance, but it’s best to save those for shoppers who are truly on the fence. Someone who was interested enough to fill their shopping cart is likely to only need a few reminders and the leisure time before they complete their purchase.

Under no circumstance should you sound rude or pushy, so instead of imperative sentences, try rephrasing them as questions.

Wrong: You left some items in your shopping cart. Come back and complete your purchase.

Right: Hi there, we noticed some items in your shopping cart. Did you forget to complete your purchase?

Similarly, you should try to come off as friendly in tone, rather than like someone on a late-night infomercial…

Wrong: Time is running out! This offer is nearly up! Buy, buy, buy!

Right: Hey, we’d hate for you to miss out on this great opportunity! Why not come back and we’ll finish up with your checkout?

As with all things marketing, it really is touch and go. What works with one customer won’t work with another, so trial and error will help you figure out the correct balance of timing, frequency, and tone. Check out our previous blog post for some useful tips on language and writing style that can help you optimize your push notification campaign.

Calculate how much your revenue would increase per month using OpenBack:

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