Are you giving incentives to customers for abandoning the shopping cart?

Business can be extremely rewarding and agonizing at the same time – and one of the major pain-points for business owners in both the online and offline world is watching the customer leave just before  the  ‘Point of Sale’ . Shopping cart abandonment is a dreaded scenario for online business folks, and understandably, everyone on this planet who are in the selling business cannot deny the bad taste that it leaves in the aftermath of a perfectly created game plan.


**Behavioral Incentives…

Cookies…Surveys…Customer behavior analysis…Remarketing…Shopping behavior patterns…Shopping cart abandonment trend…

Sounds familiar?

Companies are in a race to create ‘Incentive jukeboxes‘ – where they can match customers shopping behavior with the right incentives.  Indeed it is not as simple as selecting the right music for the right couple – based on age group and the occasion.

The behavioral incentive equation  is still an open-ended statistical analysis. Over the years, online marketers have made meaningful inroads into understanding the consumer behavior in response to the external incentives. As a result, we have come to know just some of the factors affecting the customers’  buying pattern in response to the seller’s incentive….

Behavioral Incentives =   Fx(Persona, Buying cycle, Purchase timeline, demography, peer influence, comparative  analysis……)

These are just some of the factors visible to the marketing analysts, known to the business owners, diagnosed to death and extrapolated in all directions. While these may be contributing factors to the ‘incentive response and decision making’, there are certainly millions of  other impulses contributing to the customer behavior.


**So, Why are customers abandoning the Shopping cart even after the incentives?

For business owners, every purchase is a celebration – celebration of a quality product and a functioning purchasing system – celebration of a great content and top-notch team work. Every purchase marks the successful culmination of a well oiled marketing plan.

But, the reality is more than humbling – Shopping cart abandonment takes centerstage during marketing strategy sessions. Organizational energy gets diverted towards ‘customer’ s exit scenarios’ – away from ‘customer acquisition road-map’.

Incentives enter the equation

Since ages, sellers have been doling out freebies to their buyers to induce faster purchase, greater loyalty, higher transaction value and not to mention ‘create brand ambassadors and free promotion’.

Does it make a difference?

Most emphatically Yes – intelligent and well positioned incentives have the firepower to boost a slagging economy itself, not to mention the bottomline of a chain or a region.

Who doesn’t wait for Thanksgiving sales (Black Friday), Christmas eve discounts, Boxing and New year sales?

The fact is that is that we, as consumers, are now programmed to receive and expect incentives – a purchase becomes a psychologically great deal if there is any incentive associated with it. In recent times, with a universal focus on  understanding the customer behavior, an aberration in the buying cycle is being witnessed, with shopping cart / checkout page becoming a logical breakaway point for the buyers – This aberration points to the fact that consumers are modifying their buying behavior in order to bag incentives – and the sellers seem to be playing into their hands.  Let’s walk through a few cases of ‘Shopping cart abandonment’ …

  1. Majority of the online sellers have very aggressive and well-scheduled customer acquisition (and remarketing) programs in place
  2. These programs track the customer footprint right from their arrival on the website to the time they leave
  3. So, in cases where the customer abandons the shopping cart, the marketing team follows the customer away from the shopping cart
  4. A follow-up call or mail is made to the customer
  5. Within a reasonable time-frame, customer is offered an incentive to complete his unfinished transaction
  6. This is a very profitable deal for the customer who had chosen to abandon the shopping cart just sometime back
  7. In time the customer gets hooked on to the new experience of  ‘availing incentives by abandoning the shopping cart’
  8. He / She prescribes the same approach to all their acquaintances
  9. Gradually, the community of  ‘incentive seekers’ grows and so does the volume of  ‘shopping cart abandonment’

Statistically speaking, the sellers are ‘giving away incentives to abandon the shopping cart’. That is in effect reducing the profit margin for your business. Could this money have been diverted somewhere more intelligently? – With the intent of creating a better brand name, which is synonymous with  superior quality.


Let’s see how incentives are structured and offered by some of the market leaders in their segments…


Offers Value-based incentive – associated with the purchase / upgrade of a new product or version. It induces a higher level of transaction – greater LTV (Life Time Value) of the customer.



Apple is one company which hates to slide down its pricing…because of its unwavering commitment to quality and customer delight. But, still it offers incentives to its customers in the form of a tagged service or a gift card from a retail partner. It is seldom seen as doling out incentives for the weekend sale or the holiday season…



Costco has pioneered the art of volume-based-incentive.  The greater the volume, the greater the incentive.

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2 comments on “Are you giving incentives to customers for abandoning the shopping cart?

  1. Piracetam on said:

    So what should your follow-up message entail? Anything that will get the potential customer back to the checkout process. It could be a message asking if they encountered any technical problems during the process, a reminder about the products they left in the cart, or a note simply letting them know that you are there to address any concerns they may have about making purchases from your store. Savvy business owners have been able to generate thousands of dollars in additional revenue by simply following up in timely fashion and being proactive in their shopping cart abandonment initiatives.

  2. Vineet Singh on said:

    Thanks for your observations. Shopping cart abandonment is a culmination of various factors related to user experience, expectations and product vs pricing landscape. While the seller should be organized in their communication and should have meaningful auto-responders in place for every step of the transaction. As you mentioned, being proactive always gives an impression of greater quality and professionalism. Majority of the customers want a psychological assurance regarding the quality of the product / service – and are willing to pay more than the market standard.


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