Not all shoppers make it through the checkout process. Some spend a good amount of time browsing, fill their virtual basket with goodies and then decide to abandon the cart without purchasing the items they selected. Regardless of why it happens, this consumer habit means lost business opportunities and sales when it takes place on your website. Shopping cart abandonment can be a major problem, but as you are about to learn, you have the power to do something about it.

Vintage Tub & Bath, an online retailer that sells clawfoot tubs and related bathroom items, realized it had a huge problem on its hands: The inability to get potential shoppers to complete the checkout process. In fact, its shopping cart abandonment rate sat in the ballpark of 80%, an alarmingly high number indicating that the company was failing miserably to capture a substantial amount of revenue. Unable to ignore the issue any longer, it turned to email to rectify the situation.

Vintage Tub & Bath deployed an email campaign consisting of three follow-up messages. The campaign was designed to remind abandoners that they had left items behind in their shopping cart. According to Dawn Bobeck, the company’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, the emails were delivered in a sequence in order to prevent the customers from feeling overwhelmed. The first message went out 24 hours from the cart being abandoned. A lack of response, which in this case was the cart still being abandoned, was set up as the trigger that automatically delivered the second and third messages two and four days later respectively.

As for the results, the Vintage Tub & Bath email campaign was an overwhelming success. Over the months immediately following the initial campaign launch, the company reported an amazing 122% increase in revenue generated from email. This significant increase was attributed to a 26% rise in open rates and a 137% boost in click-through rates. Overall, Bobeck said that Vintage Tub & Bath predicts that it will recover $193,000 from shopping cart abandonment in 2011 alone. The company was so pleased with the results from this campaign, that it is currently looking into adding an opt-in option to abandonment emails to optimize its marketing initiatives.

Triggered Email Is the Key

You may have noticed that a trigger-based email marketing strategy was vital in Vintage Tub & Bath resolving its high shopping cart abandonment rate. Its campaign serves as proof of how effective this approach can be at recovering sales that would have been lost otherwise if no efforts were made to salvage them. Unfortunately, it appears that most email marketers are dropping the ball on this one. A recent study conducted by Epsilon’s Email Institute focusing on the importance of triggered-based marketing in consumer re-engagement showed that just 30.7% of retailers are leveraging shopping cart abandonment to follow up with consumers who don’t complete their purchases.Combined with Vintage Tub & Bath’s success story, the data from the Email Institute report should be incentive for marketers to go after those abandoners and attempt to minimize as many lost sales as possible. In this case, the worst thing you can do is sit back and do nothing.