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

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Online shopping recently, I was about to buy a $100 Home Depot gift card on sale for $94 at Cardpool.

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. I clicked the link and added the card to my cart. 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 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 this with any online vendor or start with the ones listed below. Remember a few important tips:

  1. 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 make sure you’re logged in when you close your browser on your incomplete order.
  1. This trick might work best when you’re a new customer with a retailer, suggests Lifehacker. 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 or if it’s been a while since you’ve ordered.
  1. 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

Here are some of the retailers that offer discounts, along with offers they’ve reportedly made in the past:

  • ClothingUnder10.com: 10% off (sometimes 20% off)
  • 1-800-Mattress: Various discounts
  • Babies ‘R’ Us: Free shipping offer sent the next day
  • Bass Pro Shops: $20 off a minimum $100 purchase
  • Bed, Bath and Beyond: 20% off
  • Best Buy: No specifics
  • Birchbox: 20% off minimum $35 purchase
  • CafePress: 20% off
  • Coastal: Various discounts
  • Crocs: 20% off
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods: 10% off
  • Dorco: 5% off
  • GoDaddy: 30% off
  • Guitar Center: Various discounts (possibly sent days later)
  • Home Depot: No specifics
  • J.C. Penney: Coupon codes sent if you leave after just viewing a few products
  • J. Jill: $20 off a minimum $80 purchase
  • Kate Spade: 15% off
  • Land’s End: No specifics
  • Levi’s: 20% off, and sometimes 25% off up to two days later
  • Macy’s: 15% off coupons
  • Neiman Marcus: 10% off
  • Nomad: 15% off
  • Office Max: Free shipping
  • Overstock.com: Various discounts
  • Princess Cruises: Large discounts offered when abandoning the cart after going through travel agencies
  • ProFlowers: 10% off (and possibly a free vase)
  • Purity Products: 30% off and free shipping
  • Sierra Trading Post: 35% off
  • Shutterfly: 20% off
  • Talking Tom and Friends Shop: 10% off
  • ThinkGeek: $10 off minimum $50 order
  • Toys ‘R’ Us: Free shipping offer sent the next day
  • Urban Outfitters: 20% off
  • Virgin Media: Various discounts
  • Williams-Sonoma: Free shipping
  • Zappos: No specifics
  • Zazzle: Various discounts

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

Be Patient

Here’s another example: 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.

Be prepared to wait.

Also, try again if this trick doesn’t work the first time with any given site. Some retailers change their strategies frequently.

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).