Retargeter Blog

Retargeting Shopping Cart Abandoners: How to Make Abandonment Part of the Purchase Funnel

For most online retailers, shopping cart abandonment is simultaneously a significant pain point and an accepted fact of everyday life.  According to a recent Forrester study, 88% of online shoppers report having abandoned a shopping cart without completing the purchase. Rest assured that if your ecommerce site struggles with abandonment issues, you are not alone.

And yet, people do return. A study completed by SeeWhy this March concluded that shopping cart abandonment could just “be part of the purchase cycle” for a new breed of seasoned online shoppers.  But shopping cart abandonment cannot become a point in the funnel without a little help.

How can ecommerce sites bring users back and make shopping cart abandonment “just a part of the purchase cycle”?

Retargeting is a phenomenal tool that can help keep your brand and your products top of mind among shoppers, and eventually drive them back to your website to complete their purchase.

But before taking action, it’s key to examine the reason the shopper abandoned the cart in the first place.

Why Shoppers Don’t Convert

We know that abandonment signals some objection on the part of the consumer. According to the Forrester survey mentioned above, shoppers cite price and timing as their primary objections to completing a purchase

Price objections can be counteracted by providing offers of free shipping past a certain price threshold, free return shipping to mitigate risk, or offering periodic discounts on merchandise that has been frequently abandoned.

You can then inform the customer of the price changes or special offer via a remarketing email, or in dynamically retargeted ads featuring the discounted products.

When timing is the issue, the best way to reach a customer is by reminding them of the product periodically, ensuring that you stay to of mind and reach them when they are in fact, ready to purchase.


Retargeting allows you to serve ads only to users who have previously engaged with your brand online.

You can serve ads to anyone who has been to your website and left, or you can serve ads only to shopping cart abandoners or people who have spent time browsing on specific product pages.

Retargeted ads are highly effective at all stages of the purchase funnel, and successful retargeting strategies may incorporate many different forms of targeting. After a consumer abandons a shopping cart, however, is a particularly important time to implement retargeting, as these users are likely right on the brink of making a purchase.

Even general branding ads featuring only a company logo and served to all bounced site visitors are highly effective at improving shopping cart retention rates. However, even more effective, are segmented campaigns that tailor ads based on where a shopper is in the purchase funnel. With segmented campaigns, shoppers who have abandoned a cart might see an ad highlighting free shipping on orders over $100.

For even more tailored ads, retailers can turn to dynamic retargeting. Dynamic retargeting can generate ads in real time that feature abandoned products. So, for example, a shopper abandons a pair of shoes, you can automatically begin serving him ads featuring those shoes.

If you work with the right provider, you can serve ads to your users featuring complementary products in addition to products the user has considered. For example, if many of the people who bought that pair of shoes also bought a particular pair of pants, you can serve shoe abandoners ads featuring those pants. With powerful recommendation engines, dynamic retargeters can automatically generate the most relevant ads possible and bring shoppers back to your site.


Shopping cart abandonment is a persistent problem faced by all retailers, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the line. With the right retargeting strategy, shopping cart abandonment can be just a part of the purchase funnel.

Leave a Comment


  • Retargeting is a great idea, it shows value to customer and that you are not ignorant to their needs.

  • How many are because you can’t see price or shipping until you go almost all the way to charging? I find this to be a major annoyance and time waster of MY time.

  • If I could calculate shipping charges before that stage, I wouldn’t put stuff in and then “abandon” the cart.

  • I do this a lot and I don’t consider it abandonment. Most sites have a wishlist but nothing between that and purchase. I put things in my cart that I want or need and then I go back and sort it out. I’ve had items in my cart for weeks. Sometimes an offer will prompt me to go back and complete. I also put items in a cart for sites I frequent because I don’t want to forget them. For instances I may be thinking the next time I order from “X” I need a new “Y”. I may get a catalog and see something I want. When I go to the site “Y” is already in my cart so I won’t forget to order it!

  • Here’s me: I fill my shopping cart. Before completing the sale, I ALWAYS open up another browser tab and do one last search of the things I’m getting… More than half of the time, I DO find a better deal, better shipping, free shipping, etc. So I abandon the initial cart. Buh Bye.

    No biggie. I don’t think the industry will ever change me, or others like me. Nor would I, if I were a current online retailer, waste my time and resources and panty bunching even trying. My efforts would be much more profitable in other areas of my empire than focusing on this trite.

  • I have left multiple sites without completing my order, mainly because those retailers charge an exorbitant “handling” fee and some even pad the shipping fee’s charged by U.P.S and Fed-Ex etc, to increase their profit, they price the actual item low and make up the difference in “shipping & handling”.. You dont see those charges until you get to the checkout page, I leave immediately and never return to do business with people like that….

  • One very important point that I would like to make (as a frequent shopping cart abandoner) is the reason I do it. So often a website makes the frustrating rule “See price in shopping cart” keeping the price hidden until then. I supposed their skewed logic is once it’s in your cart you’ll buy it … if shopping cart abandonment is becoming a problem for them maybe it’s time to realize the strategy doesn’t work …
    There are only 2 reasons I put something in the cart … to buy it or to check price … chances are if I am checking price … I won’t be buying it from you.

  • Two key reasons for me 1. Some transactions make you put your credit card info before you can find out the final cost and related “add to you cart to see the special price.”

  • I was so confused by the headline. Then I thought the article would be about how customers leave their REAL not virtual carts in the parking lot. Then, about 28 lines into the article I finally realized what it was about and remembered, hey, I have items in my cart on like 10 sites! Who cares! It’s not costing them anything to have them in there, is it?

  • And where the heck did they come up with the term purchase funnel? I’m not a bottle of oil swirling down into the engine.
    Wait wait wait….maybe I am.

  • Funny you should post this article this week. I was consolidating my passwords and was testing them to make sure they were current. I went to Wilson’s Leather, and they had a sale on a cute shoe I liked. It was backordered, which I didn’t care about, since it’s a fall shoe and it’s August. Well, I put it in the shopping cart, and the shipping amount made the shoe the same price it would have been w/o the sale. So I just left. Two days later Wilson’s emailed me and offered me free shipping. Hell yeah I bought the shoes!

  • I just read some of your comments… this is a buying strategy, do not feel guilty for ‘abandoning’ a purchase. If they really want your business, they’ll sweeten the deal. Trust me, if they offer you free shipping after you abandon a purchase, they already marked up the sale by the shipping amount. Go for it!

  • When the navigation is less than obvious, or anything but intuitive, it is a lot easier to leave than try to figure out what is up. Especially when you have to scroll to the part of the screen above otr below the displayed part of the page.