Holiday Cart Reminders: Shoppers vs. Gifters

October 2, 2014

By: Jim Davidson,

Director of Research

, Bronto

Holiday Cart Reminders: Shoppers vs. Gifters

When it comes to the holiday season, online shoppers go wild! Sales records will most likely be broken again this year as we take another lap around the Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas speedway leading to New Year’s Day 2015 finish line.

If you are like 80% of retailers, you have no plans to update your shopping cart reminder email during the holidays. This stat from the Bronto study “Loading the Sleigh: Marketers' Plans & Expectations for the Holiday Season surprised me considering how much revenue-generating power these reminders hold. It seems only logical that retailers would want to give these messages a holiday makeover.

Here’s how you do it:

Note Holiday Behavioral Changes

The first step to creating a fun-and-festive cart reminder email is to consider how carting behavior and the purchase decision-making process change during this peak season when shoppers turn into gifters.

Let’s say it’s April and I want to buy a t-shirt for myself at my favorite store’s website. My decision process may look like this:

  • What color/size do I want? Medium and dark blue.

  • Is the price right? Do I have a promo code? Yes and Yes.

  • Is shipping fast and affordable?  Eh, it’s OK.

  • Can I return then item in a store if I don’t like it? Yup!

Now, imagine it’s November and I want to buy a t-shirt as a gift for a friend. Let’s call her Sophie.

  • What color/size would Sophie like? Dark blue or light blue? How do women’s sizes work again?

  • Is the price right? Do I have a promo code? Yes and Yes, but should I buy other gifts while I’m at it?

  • Is shipping fast and affordable?  Eh, it’s OK, but can I qualify for free shipping with a few more gifts? Can I ship to multiple addresses? Can I get the items gift wrapped? Can I pick them up in the store?

  • Can Sophie return the item in a store if she doesn’t like it? A gift receipt would be nice to have. Is there even a store in Sophie’s town?

In addition, I’d probably want to know the following:

  • Is the shirt cheaper somewhere else?

  • Can I add a gift card since the shirt is so cheap?

  • Should I go to the store and see the shirt in person? 

  • Is the shirt well made? Are there positive reviews?

It’s obvious the purchase consideration process is vastly different when buying a gift rather than shopping for oneself. For both scenarios, should your shopper leave items in the cart, your cart reminder email should be able to answer the questions and give the shopper a reason to come back and buy. How you address those questions really needs to change during the holidays.

Appeal to Gifters

While many of the content elements, such as photos of the carted products, order total, shipping costs, savings amounts, etc., should still be present, you should focus on ways to answer these gifter-specific questions that may have caused the shopper to leave the cart. 

Here are a few ways you can spruce up your holiday cart reminders for gifters:

  • Detail Current Promotions: Feature ways the gifter can save. This doesn’t necessarily mean including a special offer in cart reminder emails. Make the effort to include your latest promotion (or a season-long deal) in your cart reminder emails so the shopper knows they are getting a good deal. Clarify whether the offer is valid in-stores, online or both. Include the deal’s expiration date. Note any price matching options that may be available to discourage comparison shopping.

  • Incorporate Reviews and Rating: For gifters buying unfamiliar items, ratings and reviews will help them buy with confidence. Show the star rating next to the product name and include a call-to-action for your cart abandoner to “see what others have to say.”

  • Feature Shipping Options and Durations: Providing this information will give your customers the options to balance time and costs before completing the order.

  • Link to Return Policies: Shoppers may be unsure if their gift will be the perfect fit. Linking to, or briefly explaining, how your return policy works could help them buy with no regrets.

  • Share Store Info: In addition to a store locator link, include special store hours and contact information for the shopper’s preferred store location. This will give undecided customers a quick way to get answers to questions that are keeping them from clicking “submit order!”

  • Alternate Way to Shop: A shopper could still be unsure about buying the gift they carted. Use the cart reminder email as a way to get the shopper back on your site to find the right item! Include links to gift guides, recommendations based on the product they carted, shop-by-recipient features and gift card options.

Join Bronto for “Holiday Power Hours: Performance Peaks, Promotional Pitfalls & Panic-Proof Planning” on Wednesday, October 8, to learn more ways to drive holiday sales and make the holidays fun to shop for your customers.

Jim Davidson, Director of Research, Bronto Software
As an expert in email, mobile and social strategies, Jim brings 15 years of experience in online marketing, managing email and cross-channel programs for top retail clients. From strategic vision to implementation, Jim has led clients to successfully meet aggressive revenue and performance goals. As Bronto's Director of Research, he regularly publishes industry-focused white papers, research reports and contributes to the Bronto Blog. His articles can be found in publications such as DM News, ClickZ, eM+C and Multichannel Merchant.

About Bronto
Bronto Software provides a cloud-based marketing platform for retailers to drive revenue through email, mobile and social campaigns. Bronto is the top-ranked email marketing provider to the Internet Retailer Top 1000, powering digital marketing for leading brands worldwide, including including Timex, JustFab, Samsonite and Gander Mountain. For more information, visit