Want to Get a Better Deal Online? Abandon Your Shopping Cart. Here’s Why

Shopping online

On Cardpool, I clicked on a $100 Home Depot card for sale for $94.

Buying discounted gift cards for places you plan to shop anyhow is like buying money on sale, and I had a lot of shopping to do at Home Depot. But a minor household emergency kept me from completing the order.

The next day, I received an email from Cardpool encouraging me to complete the sale. It included a $5 coupon, almost doubling the original $6 discount on the card.

This has happened many times since with other retailers. I’ve learned to routinely abandon online shopping carts and complete my purchases a day or two later — often with a discount.

It’s basically a new form of the classic “walk away from the table” negotiation strategy. The idea is to get the other side to offer something to get you to come back.

Ready to give it a try? Here are some tips, along with a list of vendors known to offer a coupon or discount of some sort to win over reluctant shoppers who have abandoned their carts.

How to Properly Abandon Your Shopping Cart

You can try it with any online vendor or start with the ones listed below. But in order for retailers to send you that email begging you to return (and offering a discount), they need your email address.

Set up an account before you start shopping (if you don’t already have one), and be sure you’re logged in when you close your browser on your incomplete order.

At least one report suggests some companies may target only new customers with bribes for returning to complete their orders. So try this trick the first time you buy from a retailer: If you’re already a regular, the site may treat you as a new customer if you open a new account with a different email address.

Finally, marketing practices change often, and companies individualize their efforts according to your profile.

In other words, your results may vary.

In any case, it generally costs you nothing to try.

Retailers That Offer Discounts

Chicago Tribune, Shopify, Consumerist, Digiwonk, This Is Money and Rather-Be-Shopping.com have all reported on this strategy.

Here are some of the retailers that offer discounts, along with notes on what they’ve offered in the past.

Be Patient

I opened an account on Udemy and took one of the free classes. Then I considered some interesting classes that cost $40 or more, but abandoned my cart because I was too busy to commit fully to completing them.

Two weeks later, I started getting regular emails from Udemy offering a variety of classes for just $10 — some of which normally cost $100 or more.

I’ve received emails offering discounts within an hour after abandoning my shopping cart with some retailers, but it’s more common to see them the next day or even after several days. So, be prepared to wait.

Also, try again if this trick doesn’t work the first time with a given website. Some retailers change their policies often.

Your Turn: Have you ever received a coupon or discount for abandoning your shopping cart? Which retailers were they and how much was the discount?

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

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