Ah, push notifications. The bread and butter of mobile marketing. When done right, this highly effective tool can increase retention by over 3x. But when done wrong, it can quickly cause users to churn. So what does the ‘right’ push notification look like? While we could go on for days about this subject (and we have - eBook, blog, another blog), let’s walk through a high level overview of retail push notifications done right.


ANNOUNCE NEW ARRIVALS IN A CATEGORY THEY’VE PURCHASED FROM: Segment users and reach out to them with information pertinent to their shopping habits. New Michael Kors bags? Send a push out to shoppers who have purchased or browsed Michael Kors in the past. New line of salads? Let your health conscious users know first.

PRO TIP: Be mindful of any overlaps between segmented pushes. Many shoppers have diverse tastes, and could easily receive several different promotions that technically align with their tastes. So make sure you don’t bombard certain users with too many offers. A good way to limit the volume of notifications a user receives is to only notify users who have purchased from a category multiple times.

ANNOUNCE EXCLUSIVE SALES: Who doesn’t love an exclusive sale? Push notifications are the perfect way to announce one-day, exclusive sales that boost conversion. Segmentation still comes into effect here, since you should group users based on similar characteristics; lapsed users, shoppers who have spent over $100 in app, shoppers who have items in their carts, etc.

PRO TIP: Copy-text is king when it comes to push notifications, especially when you’re pitching an offer. Relay a sense of urgency combined with action-oriented text to try and boost swipe throughs. Really drive home the one-to-one relationship by using the user’s name and make it clear that it’s not just any user that’s receiving this offer.
Target's push notification is timely, to the point, and even includes an emoji: 


ANNOUNCE ITEMS THAT ARE ALMOST SOLD OUT IN SHOPPING CART/WISH LIST: We all know how much it sucks when something sells out before you can purchase it (Justin Bieber tickets, anyone?). So it should be no surprise that giving users a heads up about items they’re interested in selling out creates a great user experience. The more users can rely on you to help them out, the more inclined they are to stick around.


Sweetgreen & Abercrombie effectively create a sense of urgency with the below push notifications:
PRO TIP: Use dynamic messaging to personalize the notification. Don’t just tell them that an item is about to sell out, tell them exactly what item it is. Also be sure to deep link the notification so that when the user taps on it, they are taken directly to their shopping cart or to the item in their wish list.

TRANSACTIONAL: Much like in-app, push notifications can also be used for transactional messages to give users up-to-date information about their purchases. Amazon sends me push notifications when items have shipped or been delivered. Starbucks sends me a push notification with my order receipt.


Amazon's push notification let's me know my mixing bowls are waiting for me at home, so it's time to bake!
PRO TIP: In order for transactional push notifications to be effective, they need to be timely. For example if a consumer pays for their items using your app, send them the receipt immediately.
SHOPPING CART REMINDER: Let’s face it, most of us are constantly multi-tasking throughout the day. Sometimes we don’t complete tasks because something more important demands our attention. So why not give shoppers a friendly reminder about  something they forgot to finish? Sending a push notification about items left in their shopping cart or on their wish list is a highly relevant way to engage with shoppers, and help them to convert.
Fanatics' friendly "forgot something" push notification is an effective way to remind users to complete their purchase: