2 Startups Claim to Fix Retailers’ Online Shopping Cart Woes

Helix Sleep and 1-800-Flowers play with mobile, social tools

With more traffic moving to retailers' mobile sites, marketers are finding new ways to incentivize people to actually checkout online.

Today Gatsby, a startup that claims to reduce cart abandonment for retailers and brands, is announcing a partnership with Helix Sleep—an e-commerce company that sells mattresses—that uses social media to dole out discounts to shoppers. According to IBM, cart abandonment rates hit 68.9 percent during Cyber Monday last year, and the idea behind the partnership is to trigger an instant sale.

"One of the things that's unique about mattresses is there's a long cycle between discovery and purchase," said Kristian von Rickenbach, co-founder of Helix Sleep. "People usually aren't buying the first time that they find out about you."

Here's how it works: On the checkout page of Helix Sleep's website, a button underneath the box used to type in promo codes reads, "Get $50 off now."


The button is tied into Twitter's API so that when someone clicks on it, a draft of a tweet mentioning Helix Sleep is pulled onto the screen (see an example of a tweet below). Once someone sends the tweet, the $50 discount is applied to their mattress purchase on Helix's website.

Gatsby only plugs into Twitter right now, but the startup is working on a similar integration with Facebook, said Brett Bernstein, co-founder and CEO of Gatsby. His company is also working on building technology that will customize the amount of the discount based on how much "social clout" someone has.

A person who often tweets about makeup may get a bigger discount at a beauty brand than someone who doesn't, for example.

"In the future we're working on an algorithm that will make the number [of] that discount variable based on the influence that the customer has for Helix online," Bernstein said.

Meanwhile, 1-800-Flowers released a new case study with mobile marketing company Appboy, claiming that it increased its app conversions 5 percent from Feb. 1 to 16 during Valentine's Day with personalized push notifications.

Folks who added flowers to their shopping carts but didn't end up buying them were sent a push notification greeting them by name and an offer for 15 percent off their order.

Amit Shah, svp of online marketing, mobile and social for 1-800-Flowers, said that the brand's research found that people bought flowers within an hour of looking at them, so the push notifications were timed for 30 minutes after someone left the app.

"We found that the median for abandoned shopping carts was within the hour, and used that information to drive promotional campaigns during Valentine's Day season," he said.

Shah declined to say how many sales the 5 percent increase in conversions generated. He did mention that it is part of the brand's ongoing push notifications efforts since November, which have increased mobile conversions by the industry average by more than 350 percent. EMarketer estimates that mobile made up 22 percent of e-commerce sales in 2015.