How Long to Keep Unfinished Carts in ShopSite? It’s Complicated.

How long should a shopper’s shopping cart last before being deleted?

My answer: How long is a piece of string?

In other words, there is no ONE right answer. It’s actually a lot more complicated then you might imagine…

You can set this duration?

Yes, ShopSite ® allows a merchant to set how long to keep unfinished carts before purging them from the system:

Commerce Setup -> Order System -> Shopping Cart

How long to keep cart

By default, this value is set to “7 days”.

What does this control?

The setting for unfinished cart duration controls the following:

  • 1. How long a shopper’s unfinished cart is saved in ShopSite before the software deletes it.
  • 2. How long an Associate (affiliate) tracking session is kept before expiring.
  • 3. How long products stay in the cart (including price and weight) from the time they are added to the cart.
  • 4. How long the cart cookie (if cookies enabled by the shopper) lasts on the shopper’s computer.

Things to consider for setting this value

1. How long does your typical sale take to complete?

If you’re not sure, check your detailed statistics like Google Analytics for the average time to complete an order. Ask your customers in a poll. Take a look at historical data from your store. Are your products impulse buys or things that people take time to decide on?

2. How often do your prices and specials change?

Do you offer a large number of time sensitive pricing specials? So many that people keeping lower priced items in the cart past your sale end date would impact your bottom line? If so, maybe a shorter duration of 1-2 days makes more sense for your cart.

Balance this against the anger you may cause if someone returns a few days later to find out their shopping cart is gone.

3. Do you have a number of associate (affiliate) links?

If you use ShopSite’s Associate feature, how long you keep unfinished carts controls how long the associate link is tracked when someone clicks on an affiliate link. How long do you want to track these affiliate links before they expire?

What’s the average cart duration?

I took a quick look at what our merchants are setting for how long (in days) an unfinished cart should last. Most merchants have their store set to 7 days. However, this is the default value, and many may have never thought to change this setting.

So I wouldn’t conclude that 7 is the most popular “chosen” number of days to keep unfinished carts.

Excluding 7 days from my search shows a number of merchants using 1 to 3 days for this value, and others using 14 or 30 days.

(The numbers run the gamut from 1 to 99 days, but 1-3, 7, 14, and 30 seem to be the most popular.)

I would assume those merchants with carts lasting 1-3 days change prices and specials often, or offer one of a kind or rapidly changing inventory. Those merchants with 14 or more days set may have longer sales cycles, want to track associates for a longer period of time, or just want to give customers who may return days or a week later the opportunity to pick up where they left off.

As you can see, “keep unfinished carts for X days” has a large impact on a number of factors. You have to look at how customers interact with your online store, and choose a value that makes the most sense.

And of course, continue to test and tweak this value so that you maximize your chances of “completing the sale”.

What are your thoughts on how long to keep a cart? What goes into the decision for your store? Please share in the comments below

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  1. Joe Cramer says:

    I find that if a person has not been back to the cart for 30 days it’s time to get rid of that data. In all of the sales we have ever had there have only been maybe one in the past three years that the person came back after one month. Long story short it’s just not worth holding the data from that long for an occurrence after the third year.

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