Wallet Hacks

The Online Shopping Savings Hack You Must Try

We're one week removed from Cyber Monday, one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, and you might have noticed something strange – a lot more emails. You didn't buy everything you put into your shopping cart. Did that merchant send you a reminder? Maybe even a coupon?

As some of you might know, I also run a meal plan subscription service ($5 Meal Plan) and so I've done a lot of research into how to get customers to buy your product. Along the way, I've also learned a few tactics to increase sales and one of them is something you can take advantage of to get a discount.

It's called cart abandonment. It's when you add something to your cart but never check out. There are a million scenarios where this plays out and it's estimated 60%-80% of all carts are abandoned (source).

You're about the checkout and you see the coupon box, go looking for a coupon, but then forget to check out. Or you leave your credit card in another room… maybe you'll check out later. I think you get the picture.

Well, if 60-80% of carts are abandoned, and the store doesn't earn a penny on a sale it doesn't make, what can they do to make more sales? Email you a coupon or, at the very least, a reminder that you left something in your cart. That coupon is what we're after.

This strategy won't work as well on Cyber Monday. Online stores are drastically cutting prices, publishing single day sales, to get your business and gamesmanship doesn't pay when stores are slashing prices and busting so many doors.

How do you take advantage?

The strategy is simple: Register an account, add an item to your cart, then close your window and wait 24 hours.

Do all companies try to rescue abandoned carts? No. Some just aren't savvy enough to realize that you can recover ~20% of abandoned carts. Or their systems are so archaic, adding this feature would cost too much or take too long.

Do the ones that do it do it all the time? Also, no. They don't want you to get used to the idea that you can always save money if you abandon a cart.

Then again, some merchants don't care if you get used to it. This is especially true if they're selling a non-physical product with near zero marginal cost. A sale is a sale and a few people who “game” the system doesn't impact the bottom line.

How much can I save? Typically, 10-20%. I wouldn't expect much more than that, so keep that in mind. 20% on a $500 piece of furniture is nice. 20% on a $5 widget is less nice and may not be worth doing.

How I Maximize Cart Abandonment Offers

I only try this when I'm asked to enter an email, or register, before checking out. If the merchant doesn't ask you for an email, they can't email you. So if you don't enter your email until the very last page, don't bother trying this.

Once they ask you for the email, go through the entire process but stop whenever they ask for a credit card. Close the window and wait 24-48 hours.

If you don't get an email within 48 hours, you won't get one. You can always return to the site and check out as normal.

I like to wait 24-48 hours before I make a purchase just as a speed bump. It's all too easy to spend money online, especially when you save your credit card information, so I impose a 24-48 hour waiting period. If I still want it after 24-48 hours, then I consider the pros/cons, comparison shop, etc.

Example: Green Man Gaming

I added a game, Star Wars Battlefront, to my cart. Registered an account and made it all the way to the part where I enter in a code and then closed the window.

About an hour later, I get this email.

(click to enlarge)

It's a 20% off code and it showed up within an hour.

Example: Pottery Barn

One of my friends mentioned that Pottery Bark sends out abandonment recovery emails… so I went onto the Pottery Barn website and found this awesome Chloe Coffee Table for just $299. To checkout, I register an account, enter my address, and go all the way to Review & Payment before I decide…. nah.

I don't really need a $300 Mahogany stained Coffee Table. I know it has rounded corners, gently flared legs and a graceful silhouette, but this Chloe just isn't for me. (those are words used in the description!)

The next two days I got two reminder emails that I'd forgotten about Chloe but no coupon. I think it's because I wasn't an existing buyer because I did get a 15% off promotion code, but that was for giving them my email. It wasn't for abandoning a cart. Technically, I did get a discount. (Pottery Barn sends out a lot of email BTW)

Example: Dollar Shave Club

If we've met in person, you know that I shave about once a week. A razor can last me six months easily.

When my friend Eric told me that Dollar Shave Club offered a free month when he abandoned his cart, I thought I'd try it. No luck, I just got a reminder email that I never checked out.

Meh. Reminders are as good as the paper they're printed on.

Which merchants do this?

I asked my friends on Facebook and they told me they've gotten emails from Amazon, Pottery Barn, Hulu, Dollar Shave Club, ThredUP, LL Bean, Gap, Old Navy, 1800PetMeds, 1800Flowers, Sandals Resorts, Everyday Minerals, and more.

You might have noticed Dollar Shave Club in the above list. They sent my friend an offer of a free month but when I tried it, got nothing. It could be related to timing. It could just be they stopped offering it. Who knows.

The takeaway from this is that some merchants do it, some don't. Give it a try and you might score a deal without having to search for a coupon and trying half a dozen of non-working codes.

Another added bonus to this strategy is that by waiting 24 hours, you may decide you don't want that item anymore… then you save 100%! 🙂