How to Use Mobile Messaging to Prevent Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment is the worst. Your customer added an item to their wish list, basket or cart….and there it stays. The odds of them completing their purchase are daunting: the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is currently at 78%.

But there’s good news: retargeting an abandoned cart on mobile is relatively easy — and it’s definitely worth the effort.  

In this post, we’ll offer examples and specific tactics on how to use mobile messaging to retarget both known and anonymous users with abandoned carts — and nudge customers towards completing their purchase with you. (And if you need more information or more help, contact us anytime.)

Mobile Messaging Examples for Shopping Cart Abandonment

To start, here are a few examples of the ways retailers are targeting their customers with shopping cart abandonment notifications:

Boxed, a wholesale retailer, sends an abandoned cart push notification with a discount code offer to entice people back into the app to complete their purchase.


UK online retailer Firebox created a fun in-app message to address users who abandoned an item in their cart.


Health and beauty retailer The Honest Company sends a “hint-hint” style push notification to app users who left the app without completing a purchase.


Step By Step: Basic & Advanced Approaches to Automated Mobile Messages for Shopping Cart Abandonment

Basic Approach

To start, you’ll need to set up custom event tags specific to shopping cart abandonment. (If you’re not familiar with custom events, you can get answers to FAQs here.)

Essentially, custom events can trigger the deployment of real-time, automated mobile messaging like push notifications or in-app messaging based on customer actions.

Here are the technical prerequisites required to get started:

  • For the basic shopping cart abandonment trigger message, you’ll need Urban Airship SDK 4.0.0 or newer, and the target device must be opted-in for push notifications.

  • For the personalized shopping cart abandonment trigger message, you’ll need: Deep-linking scheme set up

  • App or back-end system capturing cart-abandonment events

  • To retarget a user via web or email after shopping cart abandonment, you’ll need a unique identifier (such as Named User) set up.

Step 1: Set Up Custom Tags

You’ll need two tags:

  1. An “abandoned_cart” tag. Set the tag to trigger an automated push notification within 30 minutes to 2 hours of a tag being set for “abandoned_cart.”

  2. The “order_complete” or “purchased” tag. If the user purchases the item in their art, this tag will be set, essentially taking the customer out of the “abandoned cart” segment — and making sure they don’t get a push message reminding them to make a purchase they’ve already completed.

Triggering a push notification to be sent to a user when a shopping cart has been abandoned requires the app — or some other back-end service — to know when that event occurs. If you already have a system in place in the app to detect that event, then you can tell the Urban Airship SDK to set a tag like so:


UAirship.push().addTag(“abandoned_cart”) //Tell the Urban Airship SDK to add tag

UAirship.push().updateRegistration() //Update the device with the tag from above



   .addTag(“abandoned_cart”) // Tell Urban Airship to add tag

   .apply(); //Apply tag updates to device

Step 2: Set up an Automated Message

Now, set up an automated message within the Urban Airship Engage dashboard. This message will be triggered using the “Tag Change” automation. Choose the “abandoned_cart” tag you’ve set up as the trigger.



Step 3: Write Your Push Notification Message

Complete the rest of the copy for that message, save the changes, and you’re all set!

For an Advanced Approach Add Step 4: Personalize Your Push Notification

Our data shows that customers engage with personalized messages at a 4-7x higher rate than broadcast (non-personalized) messages, so if and when you can personalize, you should.

To personalize your shopping cart abandonment retargeting message, first set up the custom tags as in steps 1-3. Then:

  1. Customize the triggered push notification based on cart contents (requires integration with sales system).

  2. In your triggered abandoned cart push notification include a deep link to the shopper’s cart or item.

Bonus Round: Use Mobile Data to Retarget Beyond the Phone

If you’ve set up a unique identifier for your users (in Urban Airship, we call this unique identifier a Named User), you can also send a shopping cart abandonment message through other channels.

For example, if a user still hasn’t purchased the item in their cart in 24 hours through your app, web or in-store, you could send an offer via push notification or email — or on Facebook or other social media.

Mobile Marketing Strategy: Your Next Steps

Whether you’re just getting started want to send automated shopping cart abandonment on a massive scale, we can help. Questions? Contact us anytime to talk about how we can work together to meet your goals.