How to set up an abandoned checkout automation


Recover potentially lost sales with Sendlane's abandoned checkout Automation trigger! Read on to learn about the triggers commonly associated with abandoned checkout automations, and guidance on setting up your abandoned checkout flow.

In this guide

🚦 Before Getting Started

Background on triggers

 You’re probably used to referring to this automation as an “abandoned cart” flow and using an automation trigger that fires when someone adds a product to their cart and doesn’t check out for a specified period of time.

At Sendlane, we recommend a slightly different setup that has consistently led to better revenue performance for the majority of Sendlane customers.

Let’s investigate why, starting with the following table describing each trigger associated with “abandoned cart” automations:

Trigger name Fires when
Added to cart A cookied contact adds a specified product to their cart
Abandoned cart A cookied contact adds a specified product to their cart AND does not checkout within a specified period of time
Abandoned checkout A contact reaches the first page of the checkout flow in your store AND does not make a purchase within a specified period of time

Unlike the abandoned checkout trigger, the added to cart and abandoned cart triggers do not capture or store data for the other products your contact may have added to their cart. These two triggers use site tracking data from Beacon to tell Sendlane that an identified contact clicked "add to cart." This means that when you add an abandoned product block to an email, only the first product that the contact added to their cart will appear in the email they receive.

The Abandoned checkout trigger doesn’t fire until the contact starts the checkout process on your website (and the amount of time you select for “consider abandoned after” has passed), which means it has the context of your contact’s entire cart. This data is sent over to Sendlane from Shopify and does not require the contact to be cookied via Beacon. Abandoned product email blocks in automations using the abandoned checkout trigger will populate with information on all the products in a contact’s cart when they begin checkout, meaning contacts will be reminded of each item in their cart when they receive the email.

The abandoned checkout trigger targets contacts who have actively initialized the checkout process, rather than contacts who added an item to their cart. When you use the abandoned checkout trigger, you’re targeting contacts who are much more engaged and ready to buy!

1. Create an abandoned checkout automation

Start your abandoned checkout automation setup by creating an automation and selecting the Abandoned Checkout trigger:

  1. Click the Automations icon
  2. Click New Automation
  3. Click Start From Scratch
  4. Enter a name for your abandoned checkout automation
  5. Click Start
  6. Click Add Trigger
  7. In the lefthand sidebar, click the Shopify or BigCommerce tab
  8. Click Abandoned Checkout

2. Abandoned checkout trigger settings

When you select the Abandoned Checkout trigger, you’ll see its settings in the left-hand sidebar. These settings are the criteria contacts need to meet to be sent through the automation.

  • Store - Select the store you’re creating an abandoned cart automation for
  • Limit Per Contact - Once per day or Do not trigger when already in automation are recommended for abandoned checkout automations.
  • Consider abandoned after - Select a time period of at least one hour. The 5 minute and 30 minute settings are intended for internal testing and may inundate contacts with messages if used in a live automation.

You can specify individual products that should trigger the automation by searching for and selecting products in the For Products section of the trigger settings. If you do not select any specific products, all products will trigger the automation.

Shopify, BigCommerce, and Miva users can apply a product tag of sl-exclude to any product that should not trigger the automation. This process removes the product from Sendlane entirely. Read more about excluding products here.

3. Prevent contacts from being sent through multiple pre-purchase automations

The first node of your abandoned checkout automation should be an update automation node that ends your abandoned browse and abandoned cart automations when contacts trigger the abandoned checkout automation. Since checkout is further in the purchasing process than browsing and adding to cart, you don’t want contacts to receive both browse and checkout abandon content.

To add an update automation node:

  1. Click the + icon below the Abandoned Checkout trigger
  2. Click Update Automation
  3. Click End Other
  4. From the Automation dropdown, select your browse abandon automation
  5. Select a time period wait before allowing contacts to re-enter the browse abandon automation once they've completed the abandoned checkout automation
  6. Click Done
  7. Repeat steps 1-5 and select your abandoned cart automation for step 4

4. Filter out contacts who purchased during the wait time

The second node of your abandoned checkout automation should be a Conditional Split that checks to see whether contacts who met the trigger settings’ criteria have made a purchase during the wait time selected for the Consider abandoned after setting. On some platforms, this check happens in the trigger settings and acts as a filter. The functionality is the same with a conditional split.

To add a conditional split to your automation:

  1. Click the + icon below the update automation node
  2. Click Conditional Split
  3. Set the conditional split's settings (see guidance below the screenshot)

When you select the conditional split, its settings will appear in the left-hand sidebar:

These settings will check for orders placed by the contact during the day before they met the automation trigger’s criteria:

  • Condition - Select Shopify or BigCommerce
  • Store - Select the store you’re creating an abandoned cart automation for
  • Resource - Order
  • Order Status - Any
  • Filter - Order Date
  • Operator - In the last
  • Relative date range - 1 day

Add the rest of your automation’s nodes to the NO side so that you target contacts who have NOT placed an order in the last day.

đź’ˇ Optional: Add another conditional split to create nodes for specific products

Conditional Splits allow you to target specific products for specialized content! If you'd like to create specific content for specific products or product groups, create a Conditional Split node under the NO path of your order placed conditional split and set the conditions for:

  1. Condition: Your eCommerce integration
  2. Resource: Checkout
  3. Filter: Product or Product Collection, depending on what you want to target
  4. Operator: Select In to specify products or product groups present in the abandoned checkout
  5. Select Items or Groups
  6. Click Done
  7. Create nodes under each path:
Yes Path No Path
Customers who had the selected products or product groups in their abandoned checkout Customers who DID NOT have the selected products or product groups in their abandoned checkout

5. Abandoned checkout automation content

Now that the logic for your abandoned checkout automation is in place, you can add nodes for emails and SMS messages. For more information on optimizing your email and SMS nodes, check out our guide to automation nodes.

We highly recommend placing a wait node between messages to prevent contacts from receiving too many messages too quickly.

⚠️ Emails must include an abandoned cart block

The abandoned cart email block displays the product abandoned in the Contact's cart and a link to the Contact's cart*.Only one abandoned cart block is allowed per email. Use the Display, Content, and Styles tabs to customize your abandoned cart block!

*Contacts will be taken to your website if they click this link on a different device than the device they created the abandoned checkout on.

⚠️ BigCommerce abandoned checkouts will only be reconstructed once

BigCommerce will only reconstruct Contacts' abandoned checkouts the first time they click the abandoned cart block. If Contacts click the abandoned cart block a second time, they will see an empty cart.

The abandoned product block will automatically link contacts back to their cart (or your store's generic cart page if they are not logged into your store and click on a device other than the one they used to build their cart), but you can also use the snippet below to link to carts in SMS nodes or create multiple cart links in your email nodes.

To place a direct link to a Contact's abandoned checkout in hyperlinked text and images or a button, paste the following snippet in the URL field:

{% set data = trigger.getCheckout() %} {{ data.abandoned_checkout_url }}

If Contacts click this link on a device other than the one they built their checkout on, they will be taken to your store's generic cart page.

6. Add a goal node to pull purchasers out of the automation

Depending on the number of message nodes and the length of wait nodes in between, contacts may complete their purchase before being sent through the entire automation. To prevent contacts from continuing to receive abandoned checkout content with a goal:

  1. Click the + button under the last node of your automation
  2. Click Goal
  3. Add a name for your goal, like "Completed purchase"
  4. In the Select condition dropdown, select your eCommerce integration
  5. Select your store
  6. Select Order
  7. Select Unfulfilled
  8. Select Order Date
  9. Select in the last
  10. Enter the number of days that it takes to complete your automation
  11. Click Done

7. Test and activate your automation

You can test your abandoned checkout automation with an email address that is opted in to your account. To test your abandoned checkout automation:

  1. In your trigger's settings, set the "consider abandoned after" setting to 5 minutes
  2. Activate your email nodes
  3. Activate your automation
  4. Visit your website
  5. Add a product to your cart
  6. Start checkout
  7. Wait at least five minutes
  8. Check your inbox to ensure you received the first email in your abandoned checkout automation

If you successfully completed your automation, you're all set! If you didn't receive messages you expected to receive, or otherwise didn't experience your automation the way you want your contacts to, deactivate your automation while you troubleshoot.

Example of a complete abandoned checkout automation

Check out the example abandoned checkout automation flow below:


Why are Contacts showing as unsubscribed immediately after completing a purchase?

If your Shopify checkout page pre-selects the marketing email opt-in checkbox, Contacts who uncheck the marketing email opt-in box during checkout will be unsubscribed from the List attached to your Shopify integration as soon as checkout is complete.

The abandoned cart block isn't available!

The abandoned cart block may not appear in your elements sidebar for two common reasons:

  1. Your eCommerce integration is not set up correctly. Review your eCommerce store's integration with Sendlane for possible connection issues.
  2. You already added an abandoned cart block to your email. Only one abandoned cart block is allowed per email.

Additional Resources

Did this answer your question? Thanks for your feedback! There was a problem submitting your feedback. Please try again!