Pre-cart – a golden opportunity hiding in your existing traffic

By 09/20/2017 June 4th, 2019 No Comments
10 min read

Recart does an amazing job of recovering abandoned carts for you but what about the traffic that doesn’t add to cart?

What if there was a way to convert more of that traffic? There is!

Your traffic is divided into 6 main types:

  1. Visitors that bounce. It’s sad but most of your traffic bounces. 🙁
  2. Visitors that browse but don’t find anything they want to buy. Also sad. 🙁
  3. Visitors that browse and are interested but don’t add anything to cart. They leave without buying. We call them the PRE-Carters. This is who we will talk about in this post.
  4. Visitors that add to cart and don’t complete checkout. We call them POST-Carters. Ideally, you can get them to reach out to you and get help with the checkout. If that doesn’t work, Recart will spring into action and help you bring them back.
  5. Those that add to cart and buy i.e. the best people in the world <3 Nurture these buyers so that they become repeat customers.
  6. Those that already bought and came to look for customer service. Give these buyers the best customer service on the planet because if you do, they will come back, they will tell their friends, and they will write reviews. Excellent customer service is a great way to stand out. Texting can help you with that but that’s for another post.

Why do pre-carts happen?

By the time a visitor has reached your site they have at least a little bit of interest in what you have to offer. Maybe they looked for your product category on Google (which means strong purchase intent) or you caught their eye with an ad (lower purchase intent). Doesn’t matter. They made it.

Now you only have a few seconds before they decide whether to stick around or not. With so much going on with people’s lives, it’s increasingly hard to get them to stay. If they get a notification that they were tagged in a photo by their friend, do you think they’ll stick around? No. They will click over to see the photo and probably forget about you.

How can anyone ignore this? They can’t!

However, those that stick around and choose to browse your store are sending you a very big bat signal: “I am interested! Please woo me.”

  • Show me great photos of the product at various angles
  • Have descriptions that answer my questions
  • Explain your shipping policy clearly
  • Tell me what happens if I change my mind or there’s a problem with my purchase
  • Give me assurance that you’re not a scammer and that it’s ok to give you my credit card

In short, make me want your product and help me feel safe, and I will give you my $$$ (or Euros, Yuan, Pesos -money doesn’t discriminate).

When you think about, it’s about two very basic feelings:

Desire & Safety

The pre-carters are visitors that encounter a fear of some kind that makes them unsure about the purchase. They desire your product but they have a concern that makes the purchase feel unsafe. Whether it’s about a product attribute, the shipping process, or about your store. Fear is a conversion killer.

How to beat fear

What’s your natural instinct when you’re afraid? Flee.

The easiest thing for a customer to do when facing a fear is to bounce.

There goes your traffic bouncing away Bye Bye $$$$

So how do you combat the fear and get visitors to safety (meaning your checkout)? It’s so simple but many stores don’t do it.

Be there for them.

STOP hiding.

STOP making customers jump through hoops to get to you.

If you contact info is on another page, you are hiding. You don’t think you are but to the fearful customer, you are.

If your contact info is on the page but it’s an annoying contact method that requires work and effort, then you are hiding. Having a form, requiring an email, expecting customers to call – This is what companies do when they don’t want people to reach out.

Being there for your customer means being easy to reach.

When you make it easy for customers to reach out to you, two things happen:

  1. You make them feel comfort and trust even if they never reach out, which increases the probability they will buy
  2. You increase the chances they will reach out and you can put their fear to rest and convert them

How MessageMate makes you easy to reach

Sorry. No one is interested in filling this out

Texting is the easiest way for people to reach you. It’s convenient and simple. But we take it a step further: Our message mate stays on the page with the customer as they browse. They are reminded they can reach out anytime if they need. This is done without being distracting. And, it’s always on. There’s never a ‘closed’ sign.

Click & text -that’s easy! Especially not on their mobile phone

What happens when you add texting to your site

  1. On average, we see that 35% of the customers who reach out when you add texting are Pre-Carters. This is the single largest group of people who reach out. More than Post-Carters, more than customers looking for customer support. This is an incredible volume of traffic that is so close to converting – and it’s traffic you’ve already paid for so don’t waste it. It’s the most overlooked conversion opportunity.
  2. Here’s what PRE-Carters are asking about (based on 1000 conversations):- Product attributes (26%) – About half the time the answer is already written in the description somewhere but the person never read it, or they missed it, or they didn’t bother scrolling. It might be frustrating but if you want the sale, you should answer.

    Dear merchants: This is your customer

    – Purchasing advice (18%) – This is a big signal of an interested buyer that simply does not know what to choose. Requests for advice are more common when:
    i. The product is complex or requires some expertise. Cosmetics, electronics, and nutrition tend to follow in this category
    ii.The customer is purchasing a gift for someone else. Gift buyers need a lot of help. Buying a gift makes people more nervous than when they buy for themselves because there is added risk (What if they don’t like it? What if it doesn’t work? What if it doesn’t arrive in time?). Craft stores can use this dynamic to upsell a complete gift package (gift wrap, express delivery, premium tracking etc.)
    iii.When products are very similar. Comparing two (or more) similar products can lead to customers being stuck and having decision paralysis
    iv. When products are complementary so people are debating in their head about how to put together their set of items (for example, which cleanser should I purchase with this cream?)

    – Shipping costs (3%) – Every store solves the shipping equation differently (to free or not to free ship?) but no matter the policy, customers always seem to have questions related to costs, particularly with regards to express shipping.

    – Shipping times (12%)- I need it by X date, will it arrive if I order? This is one of the most common shipping questions PRE-Carters have. They don’t want to go through any part of the cart of checkout process before they know the answer. Think you’re smart and put it in the description for every product? That’s nice but there are always people who don’t believe. They want to get the date from the store, in writing, before purchasing.

    Another reasonable customer

    – When will the product be back in stock (3%)- If ever there was a signal of a potential buyer, it’s this one. If you reach back out to this customer when the item is back in stock, that’s an almost guaranteed sale.

    – Returns policy (7%)- Another very good signal of purchase intent. All this customer needs is reassurance that if they make a mistake, it’s reversible.

    – Deal/bundle/coupon/offer/loyalty points applicability (21%)- Deals, bundles, loyalty programs and discounts can get complicated and confusing (definitely worth simplifying as a general rule). PRE-Carters usually need to know if they can use points or stack discounts for their desired purchase but sometimes, they’re simply not good at math.

Who would have thought someone else’s bad math skills would now be your problem.

Do you see the common attribute of all of those?

They are easy to answer! Customers aren’t asking unreasonable questions. These are things you know and your staff knows. 80% of questions are repeat questions. You can set up templates and respond to them in seconds. Don’t leave this money on the table.

Why it works

PRE-Carters need their fears addressed. That’s easy to do by providing some information but when you do it with texting, it works even better. Why?

  1. More PRE-Carters reach out. On average 2.2X more than having just an email. 3X more than having just a number to call, 1.6X more than live chat, and 1.3X more than having a Facebook Messenger button (there are still people out there who don’t like Facebook). One of the reason is that texting is ‘always on’ to your site visitor even if after the text they get an auto reply, they still know when you will text them back.
  2. The conversations you have via text are more convincing. Texting is a very friendly, intimate medium. It’s how we communicate with the important people in our lives. By contrast, even Messenger which is the most similar to texting does not feel as intimate because your company logo is always displayed, reminding customers they’re talking to a business. With texting, they are talking to a human.


  3. 98% open rates. That is not a typo – it really is 98%. With texts you get real contact info and it’s almost guaranteed that the customer will open your message. Unlike email, faking a phone number is extremely uncommon. Because of this you can continue to follow up with the customer and answer more questions until they are satisfied and buy. You can also ask if they are happy with their purchase and if so, request a review.
  4. Good merchants follow up on texts and respond to questions. Great merchants take the opportunity to engage and do more. Some things you can do in a texting conversation:
    – Sell
    – Upsell
    – Ask for feedback (privately) or for a (public) review
    – Ask for a social follow
    – Ask if they want to join a texting offers list

A beautifully executed upsell by this store

The important thing to remember is that you are creating a relationship with this customer. Keep the two feelings in mind: Desire & Safety. If the customer feels that you care and that you connect with them at a personal level, you can create long term loyalty. They will want to buy from you and they feel safe doing it.

Desire & Safety – it’s as simple as that.


Adi Bittan

Adi Bittan

Adi Bittan is the co-founder & CEO of Owner Listens Inc. and of Since 2011, Owner Listens has been helping brands text and instant message with customers safely and at scale. Over 15,000 businesses have used Owner Listens to text and IM with customers, including brands like Man Crates, Stitch Fix, the SF 49ers, Philz Coffee, and the Better Business Bureau.