Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping Cart Abandonment

What Is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is when a potential customer starts a check out process for an online order but drops out of the process before completing the purchase. Any item that enters the shopping cart but never makes it through the transaction is considered to be “abandoned” by the shopper. Shopping cart abandonment is an important aspect of the online shopping process that retailers pay careful attention to.

Shopping cart abandonment rate is calculated by dividing the total number of completed transactions by the total number of transactions that were initiated. This rate will identify what percentage of a site’s users signal purchase intent by adding an item to the cart, but don’t complete the purchase.

The shopping cart abandonment rate is an important metric for e-commerce sites to keep track of because a high abandonment rate could signal a poor user experience or high shipping cost or complicated checkout or many more. Reducing shopping cart abandonment leads directly to more sales and revenue, so optimizing the checkout flow a core area of focus for many online retailers.

  1. Unexpected Non-Product Cost

Non-Product costs are amounts which are added at final checkout like Shipping cost, Tax, Duty, Door-Delivery Charges, Packaging Charges etc. 

Hidden costs are the primary reason your visitors leave without purchasing, ranking first in both probability and impact.

25% of customers specifically cited shipping costs as the primary reason driving them away.

However, you should also pay heed to other hidden costs such as taxes or required complementary items which have a similar effect.

These costs cause an immediate annoyance and irritation. In some cases, it can even propel consumers to feel remorse for purchasing.

  1. Forced account creation

Forcing users to create an account or register in order to add items to a virtual shopping cart is always a bad idea. It breaks the purchase cycle by adding a step and will turn some customers away.


Solution: Offer guest checkout; never force account creation. If you want to collect emails and other contact info for remarketing purposes, try collecting this information after the purchase is complete, at the confirmation page step (ask the customer if they want to “Get email updates about my purchase, and other special offers?” or something similar).


  1. Long and Confusing Checkout

Another common reason why customers abandon shopping carts is that of a long and complicated checkout process. This is closely related to the second reason because mandatory registration is typically considered one of the steps in a long checkout process.

But in this case, it’s about the entire checkout process. Which includes having to enter shipping and billing info, and the payment process as well. Ideally, you should reduce the number of the form fields required for checkout and payment. Remove any fields that aren’t absolutely necessary for customers to complete their purchases.

Instead of requiring shoppers to enter their billing and shipping addresses separately, give them the option to, “ship to the billing address.” Then they will only need to fill in the additional fields if they’re shipping the product to a different address.

Additionally, you can set realistic expectations, and reduce frustrations by showing customers the progress of their checkout.

You can introduce a progress indicator, which will show shoppers which stage of the checkout they’re at, and how many stops are left. Another benefit is that if they make any mistake at any stage, they can easily go back and make the necessary corrections.

In the current trend the most adopted approach is single page checkout which simplifies the checkout process. 

  1. Establish and Build Trust in Your Transaction Forms

Remember that, by asking your customers to fill out a transaction form, you’re essentially asking them to trust you with their personal information. This goes far beyond just their contact details; you’re asking for their credit card details, something many people are (understandably) hesitant to part with.

Shopping cart abandonment include trust logos

To offset the hesitation of handing over their hard-earned money – and financial identity – use your transaction forms as an opportunity to build and establish trust. Include trust signals such as security logos in a prominent position somewhere close to your transaction forms.

Also, make sure the logos are recognizable and commonplace (such as the “Norton Secured” logo, which replaced the commonplace “VeriSign Secured” logo). Research in the 2nd leading eCommerce company indicates that almost 61% of consumers had not purchased something online because trust logos were missing, but also that more than 75% of consumers had chosen against making a purchase because they didn’t recognize the trust logos.

  1. Website had errors/crashes

The rest of these cart abandonment causes do not rank in the impact study performed by Statista. 

However, that doesn't mean that these issues should be ignored. Website error crashes, and load times are major deterrents to completing purchase and contribute to a sense of insecurity on the site. 

The solution??

Focusing on the customer experience is paramount. 

Make sure that you are regularly going through your site, from home page to checkout, ensuring that your site is still up to date and there are no issues. 

You should perform these checks across a variety of screen sizes, especially as mobile continues to grow in importance. 

You can check site speed through a number of free services. We most often use Pingdom and Google Pagespeed Insights. 

  1. Make Saving Carts Effortless

When you shop at a brick-and-mortar store, you either commit to buy something or you don’t. You can stand in line and wait to pay for whatever’s in your cart, or you can leave the store with nothing. Shopping online isn’t as straightforward, however. Consumers expect to take advantage of the benefits of shopping online, including the ability to return to an ongoing order – sometimes repeatedly. To improve your conversion rates, make it effortless for users to return to carts-in-progress.

Saving a shopping cart should be as easy as clicking a single button. With so many potential distractions (both in “real life” and online), you should almost expect disruption in the checkout process, which is why it’s crucial to allow shoppers to return to their carts later to complete their purchase at a time that’s convenient for them.

There are several ways you can help users save a shopping cart. You can require that users sign into their accounts – which isn’t always the best approach, as we'll learn in tip #6 – or you can use browser cookies to “remember” customers’ carts without forcing them to log in (which can be either incredibly helpful or a serious invasion of online privacy, depending on the perspective of the user). Most browsers offer users the option of remembering login credentials for sites such as Amazon, reducing the friction of demanding repeated sign-ins and making it easier for users to temporarily abandon their carts and return to them later, a convenience that most online consumers have come to accept and even expect.

Ideally, saving a cart for later completion should be as easy for the user as possible – or even literally effortless. You might want to test whether saving shoppers’ carts by default helps your conversion rates, as sometimes even the most determined bargain hunter won’t think to manually save their cart. However, you choose to help prospects come back to ongoing purchases, be upfront about it. Don’t creep your customers out by saving their data without their knowledge or permission.  

  1. Not Ready to Purchase/Comparison Shopping

Online consumers have become more savvy with the wealth of consumer resources available online and the explosion of social media. Today, most customers compare products from different merchants before they buy. The many online comparison websites has made work easier for customers and with the shaky economy, everyone is trying to save a buck.

If your customers are only comparing prices at your website, offer them a value proposition that will make them buy. For example, you can have a pop-up box that offers them free shipping if they order on that date only. You can also track consumer behaviours using cookies to understand them and provide better value.

  1. Optimize Your Page Load Times

According to Visual Website Optimizer, eCommerce shopping cart conversion rates drop 7% for every one-second delay in your page loading. Checkout pages that are slow to load practically beg impatient shoppers to take their business elsewhere, so optimize your checkout pages to be as fast as possible.

Some on-page technical elements are more easily optimized than others. For example, your images should be as optimized as possible to maintain that crucial balance of quality and speed. You can also limit the use of ad network trackers, poorly implemented tags, social plugins and another bloat to increase your page load times.

Other elements, however, are farther beyond your control – such as the delay between a customer clicking “Place Order” and your financial institution/payment provider actually processing their payment. If you’re aware of an inevitable delay when processing payments, consider introducing a visual representation of the delay to assure customers that something is actually happening, such as a loading bar or progress indicator. The last thing you want is for a customer to not know if they were able to successfully place their order or not, so preempt this concern by letting them know that things are indeed happening behind the scenes and that they'll be done momentarily.

  1. Include a Strong Call to Action on Checkout Pages

Many sites fail to include any calls to action on their checkout pages whatsoever. The “logic” behind this seems to be rooted in the assumption that if a prospective customer has added something to their cart, then they no longer need any incentive to actually buy it – a fatal flaw in the marketer’s mindset. On the contrary, checkout pages are the perfect place for strong, clear calls to action that strengthen the resolve of the prospect to complete their purchase.

While it’s important to include strong CTAs on your checkout pages, it’s equally important to ensure that the messaging of these CTAs is consistent with others across your site and marketing materials. Remember that you’re aiming to provide a continuous, seamless experience from discovery through purchase. If you suddenly change the tone of your CTAs on your checkout pages, this might seem jarring to visitors – even if they don’t immediately grasp why. It’s also important to make your CTAs as clear as possible.

If your CTAs include ambiguous words such as “Continue”, consider testing them against clearer, more active verbs to see whether your CTAs can help visitors understand exactly what they’re doing and what’s expected of them. 

Keep the messaging consistent throughout your CTAs, right through to your checkout process. If you favor friendly, connective language in your marketing material, maintain this approachable tone during the checkout process. If you’re leveraging urgency or another incentive, keep this pressure on during checkout. Also be sure to use appropriate and consistent CTAs depending on where the prospect is in the process, especially if you’re using a progress indicator – don’t jump the gun and make assumptions about users’ understanding of where they are in the process.

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