Understanding Shopping Cart Abandonment and How to Reduce Yours

Whether you own an eCommerce store or shop at one yourself, chances are you’ve come face to face with shopping cart abandonment causes once or twice before.

You could have an excellent, really well dialled-in website with fantastic product descriptions and beautiful photography, and you still may lose out on a decent chunk of your sales and conversions during the checkout process.

For many online retailers, today’s shopping cart abandonment is one of, if not the leading, causes of missing sales.

It’s a good indicator that something’s wrong with your overall purchasing flow and checkout process, your user experience, or something wrong with the actual site itself.

Even worse, though abandonment is one of the biggest and most common issues retailers online face today, business owners very rarely know how to manage the problem, mitigate the issue, or overcome it altogether.

Despite throwing the kitchen sink at cart abandonment, many online retailers, business owners, and eCommerce stores still have difficulty reducing shopping cart abandonment. They’ll discover customers visiting their website, adding all kinds of products to their cart, and abandoning it entirely as soon as they hit the checkout page!

In a digital-first world where consumers have endless options at their fingertips, this is less than ideal.

Luckily, though, it is possible to get a handle on these kinds of things.

Here’s what we’ll cover: 

What is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

shopping cart abandonment guide

Shopping cart abandonment is the rate at which your customers abandon their online shopping carts before converting and completing a purchase.

Business owners can determine their abandonment statistics by breaking down the total amount of completed purchases they’ve processed in a given block of time and then dividing that number by the total amount of created carts.

Subtract that number by one, and you’ll have the calculated cart abandonment percentage for your site.

Here’s a quick example:

Let’s say that an online store has about 500 created carts in a month but only 200 purchases completed. In this example, a bit of napkin math (1-[200/500]) says that the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 60%.

While this sounds high, it’s a little bit lower than the industry average. Believe it or not, the Baymard Institute states that business owners can expect their average cart abandonment rate to hit 69% (or a little higher).

At first blush, that number looks sky-high. Seven out of ten carts being abandoned before a sale process is tough to swallow.

Thankfully, though, your own abandonment rates will likely be lower than this online eCommerce average that averages all types of digital businesses together.

At the same time, even losing 50% of your sales to abandonment is a big problem.

What Causes Shopping Cart Abandonment?

cart abandonment

Several factors can cause checkout abandonment, but the most instrumental one is a poor experience. Buying online shouldn’t be a complex process. A poor user experience, slow site speed and limited payment options are just some of the reasons why more than half of eCommerce customers abandon their carts. Here are a few more:

Complex and Confusing Checkout Process

Try as they might, online stores and eCommerce stores just aren’t able to fully replicate the physical retail experience. The brick-and-mortar store experience is unique. You can see the products in person, handle them personally and checkout and bring it home.

With that being said, online shoppers and retail shoppers want many of the same goals – one of them being able to make their purchase immediately and as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Nothing aggravates consumers and customers more than a drawn-out, complex, and confusing checkout flow. Even if you’re not shopping online, having to wait in line to complete a purchase is frustrating and annoying.

Nobody likes a complicated checkout process. Suppose an online store subjects its customers to multiple checkout pages. In that case, field forms and multiple information requests just to complete their online purchase is likely to turn prospective customers into shopping cart abandoners that won’t return to your store.

No Guest Checkout Option

Large and small eCommerce retailers love user accounts for many reasons. They provide a wealth of essential data that they can leverage to improve everything from their purchase funnel to their product pricing.

However, it can make shoppers abandon their shopping carts.

User accounts are precious when you want to collect user data and optimize your overall online shopping experience, but they also extend the checkout flow significantly. The checkout experience needs to be optimized for customers, not for your business.

Uncertainty with Security Features

shopping cart abandonment causes

Online shopping is more common and popular than ever before, but a segment of the market still is a little bit hesitant about online payments. Not all digital customers are ready to leap at the opportunity to share their personal, private, and payment information with just anyone. This market segment prefers to do some window shopping on your product pages instead of making a purchase.

To adapt to this kind of user behaviour, you have to be sure to include multiple payment options, the opportunity to use a preferred credit card account, and as many other security features as possible to assure customers and earn their confidence.

If your customers don’t feel comfortable using their digital wallets, can’t use the most popular payment methods, or need to provide a lot of extra information when filling out form fields, the odds of them abandoning their cart increase significantly.

Unknown Shipping Speeds

Same-day delivery is no longer a competitive advantage – it’s an expectation.

80% of all customers not only expect same-day delivery but are actually disappointed when they find this kind of expedited shipping as the standard isn’t available. 61% of online customers even expect that their packages will be shipped out within 1 to 3 hours of placing their orders, too.

Customers don’t just want same-day delivery, they expect it. Here are3 Reasons Your Store Needs Same Day Delivery & How to Implement It.”

The last thing a shopper wants to worry about is hitting your checkout page, going through the checkout process and giving their payment method and personal information, only to find out that it’s going to take them forever and a day to get their order.

Unexpected, High Shipping Costs

Shipping and fulfillment costs are part and parcel of the eCommerce experience. While eCommerce brands can offer free shipping, not every retailer has the means and the budget to make this a reality.

Many digital shoppers will understand the necessary evil of online shipping costs, but many more will sour if unexpected shipping costs are added later.

While extra delivery fees are understandable if the delivery destination is remote, they should never be hidden costs. When you display the costs upfront to the consumer, they’ll be able to gauge the cost of their purchase more readily.

Plus, who doesn’t hate unexpected costs?

Tips For Reducing Cart Abandonment

Though it might feel like cart abandoners have an unlimited amount of reasons to bail on their online shopping cart, eCommerce retailers have a few tips and tricks they can use to provide a better checkout flow and reduce cart abandonment. While you won’t eliminate cart abandonment, you can reduce the rate at which your potential customers are contributing to lost sales.

Here are just a couple of the best cart and checkout optimization tips available to improve the process, secure the sale, and drop abandonment rates like a stone at the same time.

Simplified Checkout Process

simplified checkout process

Your entire checkout flow needs to be optimized from top to bottom for your customers, not your business.

Customers need fast load times, forms that automatically fill out, and as much simplicity as humanly possible within the checkout flow. Anything you do to complicate the process – a questionnaire, surveys, or any other friction practically guarantees a skyrocketing abandonment issue.

Including a progress indicator, allowing users to sign through an alternative social media account, or similar checkout design improvements could hasten the checkout flow could also do wonders in lowering your cart abandonments.

Flexible Shipping Options

Customers are busy. You don’t want to force them to rearrange their schedule or create an appointment just to get their hands on their package and order.

Additionally, today, shoppers expect improved security, flexibility, and fantastic speed when it comes to their shipping choices. Offering flex delivery options, whenever possible, can boost your conversion rate significantly.

Guest Checkout Options

Collecting shopper data and information is a big piece of the eCommerce success puzzle but collecting it shouldn’t come at the expense of the user experience. Make sure that you allow shoppers to check out as a guest instead of compelling them to create an account. You’ll lower friction, improve checkouts, and boost sales.

Transparent Pricing & Payment

transparent pricing and payment

The last thing your customers want to worry about is surprise delivery fees, hidden charges and expenses, and other less than ideal price changes during the checkout process. Nobody wants to enter their preferred payment information and then back out because there were hidden fees.

Be upfront about your costs and transparent with your pricing, and these problems disappear.

Reducing your cart abandonment rate is an important step in starting an online business. Learn 10 more in How to Start an Online Business in 10 Steps.”

Same Day Delivery

Over 80% of shoppers expect same-day delivery for purchases they make online. Of that percentage, another 61% want their package within one to three hours of placing their order. Allowing shoppers to enjoy their purchase the same day they make it is one way eCommerce can compete with traditional brick-and-mortar stores and convert shoppers on the fence.

Discounts and Incentives

discount and incentives

Shoppers abandon carts, but they might not abandon your store. There could be many reasons why window shoppers choose not to go through with their purchase, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone forever!

Providing a discount code for their shopping carts, incentivizing a purchase with a voucher for free delivery and offering shopping cart recovery for abandoned carts can spur them into action to return from off-site. Marking some inventory as limited availability is another marketing psychology technique that can drive more sales.

Key Takeaways for Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment is endemic within eCommerce. Even if customers are visiting your site, there’s only so much that product descriptions and photography can do to spur customers into a purchase.

Like most things in life, simplicity is king. While useful for customer data collection and optimization, a complicated checkout process is not the preferred method for most shoppers making their purchases online. Fast load times, offering multiple payment methods and prioritizing the customer experience is the only true way to reduce cart abandonment.

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Written By Editorial Team

Along with the blog’s editors, we’re a collective of writers aimed at providing valuable industry insights and educational resources for DIY’ers, entrepreneurs, professionals and hobbyists. We range from former scientists, research students to enthusiasts and freelancers. Have a question or suggestion? Reach us at [email protected]