April 5, 2022 Last updated April 5th, 2022 4,478 Reads share

The Ultimate Guide to Shopping Cart Abandonment

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There are a lot of reasons shoppers abandon their carts online, and it can be one of the biggest challenges for eCommerce businesses to untangle and work to fix.

One reason that we know often leads to cart abandonment is shipping costs. If you don’t automate your shipping and there’s no automatic comparison made so that customers get the best price, it can cause them to leave and go elsewhere.

Another issue might be your returns policy. If it’s too strict, again, customers will leave, while on the other hand, you have the potential to increase repeat customers by branded tracking page implementation.

Below, we talk more in-depth about abandoned shopping carts, their implications for an eCommerce business, and how you can reduce your abandonment rates.


Understanding Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment occurs when you have a would-be customer who begins their online checkout process on your site but then ends the process before the purchase is completed. There’s an item or maybe multiple items that go into their shopping cart, but since the transaction’s not complete, their cart is considered abandoned.

Retailers pay a lot of attention to abandonment because of the many implications.

The abandonment rate is calculated by looking at the total number of completed transactions and dividing it by the transactions initiated. The rate gives you a view of the percentage of your users that signal purchase intent but don’t follow through.

This metric can signal many things to you as an eCommerce business, including a potentially bad user experience, the issues mentioned above, or a dysfunctional sales funnel.

When you’re able to reduce the abandonment of shopping carts, you’re improving your revenue, making it a key area of focus.

Why Do People Abandon Their Online Carts?

The following are some of the major reasons people abandon their carts. Understanding the root of the problem is important before you can move forward with fixing it.

Extra Costs

For more than half of online shoppers, according to research from Shopify, free delivery is one of the incentives most likely to convince them to complete a purchase. Discounts and coupons are close behind. Modern shoppers care about cost, and if there are too many extra costs added at the time of checkout, it can lead to abandonment.

Extra costs can include taxes and fees as well.

Once a shopper goes to their cart and gets sticker shock from these, they may leave.

They’re Required to Create An Account

If someone is a new shopper in your store and you require them to create an account, it could cause abandonment. New shoppers are going to want a checkout experience that’s quick and friction-free. Creating an account is an obstacle to that.

This becomes especially problematic for shoppers when signing up for an account includes many details like adding their birthday, which isn’t essential to buying something online.

Long Processes

Again, friction-free is critical.

The average checkout flow contains 23 form elements. Retailers want to gather the information to use the data and analytics to get a better understanding of their customers, but it might be impeding the buying process.

When people buy from you, you should collect only the most necessary information.

They Don’t Trust the Website

More people are acutely aware of cybersecurity and the risks of identity theft when they shop online. If shoppers don’t feel like they can trust your website for any reason, that could cause them to avoid checking out fully.

Other Reasons

Along with what’s listed above, which are the main reasons carts are left behind without a purchase, others can include:

  • A lack of general trust in your brand. This isn’t necessarily because of your site security, but maybe because you don’t have a lot of social proof. A very generous return policy is one remedy for this.
  • Some users are simply adding items to their cart because they’re browsing, and they have low purchase intent to begin with. You might be able to add a sense of urgency to their shopping experience by offering them promotions that are only available for a limited time.
  • Another reason someone might abandon their shopping cart on your site is technical problems. You’ll need to regularly audit and review your entire checkout process to make sure there aren’t glitches preventing shoppers from completing their purchases.

How to Reduce Your Abandon Rate

Now that you have an understanding of some of the most common reasons people abandon carts, what can you do about it?

Creating An Account

Your ultimate goal when customers come to your eCommerce site isn’t for them to make an account. Yes, that’s nice if they want to, but the goal is that they buy something.

A good rule of thumb is to set up your checkout process so that a user can checkout first, then you offer the option to create an account when their order is final.

Even when you wait until after they finalize a purchase to have them create an account, you still want to keep it simple. Creating an account should only include creating a password. If the shopper has finalized a purchase, you already have their email and address.

You might want to incentivize customers for account creation. For example, can you give them value in exchange for their account, like a discount? Can they track their order more easily with an account?

Simplify the Checkout Process

If you take away the requirement to create an account, you’ve already taken an important step toward simplifying the checkout process.

There’s more you can do here, though.

Ask only what you need to know, and if you’re going to ask for additional information, choose the right moment. Make it at the end of the checkout process and potentially after the account creation. Think about what you most want from a customer first and foremost, and then center everything else around guiding them through those steps in order of importance.

Unexpected Costs

Customers tend to think that something is going to be cheaper than it is until they’re ready to checkout. Then, once they add their address, the cost of delivery is included in the price, and it can feel like they were duped.

While they weren’t, of course, there are things you can do to reduce this feeling on their part and, in turn, lower your rate of cart abandonment.

One option is to offer free delivery. You can roll the cost of delivery into the item. Another option is to use a standard delivery charge that’s well-advertised on product pages.

Maybe you can’t or don’t want to do that.

If that’s the case, try to add a feature to your site that shows estimated delivery costs next to each item. While it’s not going to be entirely accurate, it’s at least going to give shoppers an idea of what they might expect once they start to checkout.

Another way you can give an idea of shipping costs is to use a delivery calculator. You can do this in addition to an estimate or instead of.

A delivery calculator would let the user add their zip code and get a more accurate quote for shipping.

Security Concerns

It’s normal and prudent for customers to have concerns about putting their address and credit card information on a website, especially if they’ve never shopped with you before.

You can provide messaging that reassures shoppers that you take security seriously. Let them know the steps you take to keep their information protected.

Using independent credentials that show security can help, and of course, make sure your site actually is secure and show this with the padlock in the address bar.

Shopping Cart Recovery

Along with reducing abandonment, also think about shopping cart recovery. Even when you can’t keep someone from abandoning their cart, you may be able to get them to recover it.

There are two primary ways you can do this.

The first is through abandoned cart emails. If the shopper added their email at some point in the checkout process, then you might be able to send an abandonment email. You could add something to it to try and attract them to come back and complete the purchase, like a coupon.

Another way to do this is through retargeting. Ad retargeting can be highly effective when done well.

When you use retargeting to recover abandoned carts, you put an ad pixel on your checkout page. Then, you can remarket to users on ad platforms that you use.

This is advantageous because it works even if the customer didn’t enter an email address.

If you aren’t entirely sure why people are abandoning their carts on your site, you can start with a deep dive into what actions they’re taking. You can also start to do A/B testing to begin to identify ways you can improve the shopping experience and reduce the carts that are left behind without a purchase going to completion.

Susan Melony

Susan Melony

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