Sending an email to follow up an abandoned shopping cart is perhaps the most cost-effective of all marketing campaigns. Emarsys offers a number of different options for this, described below. Some effort is also required on your part to identify the cart from the Back to cart link; various options for this are also described.


How it works

Emarsys tracks abandoned shopping carts by following the actions of contacts who click through from an email to a web session. If a product is added to the cart during this session, but no purchase is completed, then an abandoned cart email can be triggered. This email is typically launched 24 hours after opening the session, but this is variable (see below). If a purchase is recorded during this time, the email is not launched.

When you create an abandoned cart email, you are first asked to select an email category (or All categories). Only web sessions opened by a click-through from an email in these categories are considered. In this way you can create different abandoned cart campaigns tailored to different marketing campaigns (e.g. seasonal promotions).

The web session is track using the Web Extend data collection scripts. If you are not using Web Extend, Emarsys Support can help you set up a bespoke solution for your web shop.

Email content

A cart recovery email should contain a call to action linking back to the cart, and little else. This call to action should be a static link which takes the contact back to your web shop, where you can identify them and direct them to their cart (see below for details on how to set up this URL).

If you are using Predict, you can also include recommendations for products that are closely related to the items left in the cart.

The standard Emarsys abandoned cart campaigns do not include a list of the items left in the cart. If you want to include the products, you will need the Predict Cart Recovery feature. Not only does this collect all the items in the cart and add them to the email, but it also allows you to specify more accurately when the email is sent.

Important note: Please also remember that abandoned cart emails are not transactional emails since no purchase has been made. Therefore, you must secure an opt-in before sending them and you must always include an unsubscribe link.

Creating an abandoned cart email

There are two methods for creating an abandoned cart email in Emarsys, using an on-event email or an Automation Center program.

  • On-event emails

Here you simply create an on-event email and select the source categories. The abandoned cart will always be sent 24 hours after the session was opened, unless you are using Predict Cart Recovery.


Automation Center program

Here you create a program that opens with the Abandoned cart entry point. After selecting the category, you have the added option to set the delay for a number of hours after the session was opened, or a number of days with a specific time of day.


This kind of program also allows you to follow the abandoned cart with a reminder in case there has been no activity, for example by waiting another day and using the predict last purchase date field to check for purchases.

Creating the Back to cart link

Whichever method you use to send the email, the link taking the contact back to the cart is always a static URL and it is up to you to identify the customer from it. There are several ways to do this, depending on how your web shop is constructed, and each will affect the way your URL is constructed.

Using cookies to store your cart

Many web shops create their carts on the fly and use cookies to track the contact who filled the cart. This means the cart contents are stored locally by the contact’s browser and are immediately available provided they return (if they are using the same device). If this is the case for your web shop, it is enough to have a generic URL such as:

Storing your carts in a database

The ideal solution is that you store all your carts in your own database and each has a unique ID. Then you can use the Emarsys link tracking parameters to identify which customer has clicked through and add the right cart ID to a personalization variable in the link. In this case, the Emarsys link might look like this:$cart_ID$

and the resulting URL would be:

Reconstructing the cart on the fly

Using cookies to store the cart will not work if the user clicks back using a different device or browser. So if you do not store your carts locally you can encode the cart contents into a URL and rebuild it on the fly when the contact returns to your site. You would need to set this up on your side and then replace the personalization variable in the link with the cart contents. In this case the Emarsys link might look like this:$rebuild_cart_contents$

and the resulting URL would be:,222x2,333x1

Where 111 is the item ID and x1is the quantity of items.

Storing the cart in the contact properties

If you store the cart contents as part of the customer properties on your site, you can simply link to the login page and then immediately redirect the visitor to the cart after login. In this case the Emarsys link might look like this:

The advantage here is that, if the contact returns using the same device and browser, their login details may still be cached and this link would probably take them straight to the cart.

Single-item purchases

As a last resort, if none of the above are possible and only one item has been added to the cart, you can simply store that item against the customer ID on your side and use it to direct them back to the item (again using the Emarsys link tracking parameters to identify the customer). They will still have to add it to the cart and complete the purchase, but they will not have to search or browse for it. In this case the Emarsys link might look like this:$product_ID$

and the resulting URL would be: