Retail Push Notifications: Best Use Cases for E-Commerce Stores

Increasingly, e-commerce shopping is becoming an omnichannel experience as well as less linear in nature. This means that today’s online shoppers are rarely moving seamlessly from one stage to another, let alone across a single channel (e.g., website storefront, Instagram storefront, or in-app). For retailers, push notifications can be a powerful tool for improving e-commerce conversions and sales even after a customer has navigated away from a store’s sales-ready channels. 

Retail push notifications, much like email recommendations, function as a way to re-engage customers with a store and its products. Push notifications, however, have an inherent advantage over email recommendations. Push notifications are by nature more succinct and digestible than marketing or retargeting emails tend to be. Additionally, retail push notifications can pop up as a banner while a user is doing something else completely unrelated on their phone, providing a degree of immediacy that emails can’t.

In addition to promoting re-engagement, retail push notifications are an incredible opportunity to connect with customers and put the items they’ll love in front of them more quickly. Indeed, going beyond standard forms of personalization such as the typical carousel recommendations – think “best sellers” or “new items” – opens up a whole new world of conversion opportunities. User behavior data that can accurately interpret customer tastes and preferences should be plugged into push notification campaigns in order to drive faster and more frequent sales. Here are the best use cases for an e-commerce retailer to deploy push notifications.

Abandoned cart recovery

One of the most painful losses for an e-commerce retailer is the abandoned cart. A customer gets all the way to the checkout phase of shopping but fails to click “buy.” Push notifications can be used in this scenario to remind customers of the items they left behind in hopes of getting them to complete the conversion. In addition to a simple reminder, an abandoned cart retail push notification can also include personalized messages that offer discounts, free shipping, or other incentives.

An example of how to use push notifications to recover abandoned carts.

Back-in-stock or low-stock alerts

If a product a customer has previously viewed, favorited, or added to cart that was out of stock is now available, the e-commerce retailer can send a push notification to notify the customer of its availability. Similarly, if the customer has shown interest in an item but has not yet purchased it and the item is reaching stockout status, the retailer can send a push notification alerting the customer that inventory is low. The more sophisticated the personalization and recommendation platform being used by the store, the more tailored and effective these notifications can be.

New product or collection launches

Another common use case for retail push notifications is to announce new product or collection launches. While some new lines an e-commerce business may want to blast to the majority of its customer base, an even more effective way of generating demand involves leveraging behavioral data to send push notifications to those customers who would be most interested in the new products or collection. Just as a business might do via email marketing campaigns, segmenting push notifications by customer taste and preference can lead to greater conversions.

Personalized product recommendations

In the absence of an event such as an abandoned cart, inventory change, or new collection, e-commerce retailers can still leverage push notifications to re-engage customers. One of the most effective ways of doing this is through product or item recommendations. Traditionally, a customer’s previous purchase history or third-party cookies have been used to make such recommendations. However, with a best-in-class personalization and recommendation platform, highly personalized recommendations can be made via push notification that includes items a user has never viewed previously, but would nonetheless be interested in based on their previous on-site behavior. These advanced forms of recommendation not only encourage the user to return to the store, but also increase the likelihood of a quicker conversion.

Click me

Universal promotional offers

Occasionally, an e-commerce retailer might decide that a sale or discount code is necessary to help pump up sales. Push notifications can be used to send general promotional offers and deals to customers, creating immediacy in a way that an email or announcement on the website or social media wouldn’t. 

Personalized promotional offers

Similar to universal promotions, personalized promotional offers have the added benefit of targeting a customer based on their specific interests, tastes, and/or preferences. Next-generation AI and machine learning models make it possible to analyze such data on a customer-by-customer basis, meaning that the retail push notifications can be tailored to the individual as opposed to blasting a generic discount or promo code to the entirety of an e-commerce business’ customer base. Consider the following in an online apparel store context. Whereas a storewide promo might tout 40% off all denim, a personalized promotional offer could offer 40% off the specific clothing items that an individual had previously expressed interest in through on-site behavior.

Flash sales and limited-time offers

E-commerce businesses can send push notifications to customers announcing flash sales or limited-time offers. These notifications can create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to make a purchase. Obviously, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are examples of huge opportunities for any e-commerce retailer to push sales and limited-time offers to their audience. However, these types of push notifications are especially useful during periods when a retailer’s primary product or item offering is in the highest demand. For example, an e-commerce chocolatier might leverage push notifications touting limited-time sales ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Plobal Apps helped CharlesTed deploy push notifications designed to create urgency around flash sales.

Loyalty program rewards

Retail push notifications can be used to notify customers of rewards they have earned through a loyalty program. This can incentivize customers to make additional purchases and increase their engagement with the business. Additionally, an e-commerce business might offer a special discount or promo code to its most loyal customers via push notification to motivate further purchases. This is particularly useful for the smallest but most loyal segment of a retailer’s customer base, which is estimated to have an average order value totaling three times as much as a typical customer.

Order status updates

Push notifications can be used to keep customers informed about the status of their orders, including when the order is shipped, delivered, or delayed. This can help build trust with customers and improve their overall shopping experience. Beyond being an opportunity to remain communicative about order status, however, it also presents an opportunity for a retailer to re-engage the customer with the store, effectively restarting the conversion process. With the right personalization solution, an e-commerce store could potentially remind the purchaser of a myriad of other opportunities for more purchases, including previously viewed or favorited items, “buy again” reminders, and/or recommendations based on the user’s taste or preference.

Various push notification use cases Plobal Apps deployed for Trendia.


There is no shortage of use cases where push notifications prove invaluable for e-commerce retailers, particularly if they have a sophisticated recommendation engine working in conjunction with those efforts. A dynamic mobile app developer and next-generation personalization platform are key to launching effective retail push notification campaigns.