12 Ways to Reduce Digital Shopping Cart Abandonment (With Examples)

updated May 14, 2024
Reading time19 minutes
Igor Shekotihin
Igor Shekotihin
Head of International Growth

Digital shopping cart abandonment is the most common reason for deflated conversion rates in eCommerce stores.

There are many reasons why 70% of consumers abandon their online shopping carts.

Whether it’s because the checkout process isn’t clear, or because users are just shopping around and not ready to buy just yet, the effects of shopping cart abandonment are hard to ignore.

In this article, we share the top ten reasons why online shopping cart abandonment happens, twelve ways to combat this, and 3 strategies you can employ to recover lost sales.

Let’s get started.

What is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is when visitors add products to their online shopping cart then fail to complete the transaction. That’s the in-store equivalent of walking away at the counter without taking or paying for your groceries. Sometimes they fail to hit the "checkout button" after adding items to the cart, other times they start the checkout process but exit your site before you can process the payment.

Regardless of how it happens, no retailer wants shopping cart abandonment and its negative effects on their store. When customers abandon the cart, conversion rates plummet, stores miss out on revenue and profits, and inventory counts get miscalculated.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Statistics

A large number of online shoppers –up to 70% according to Statista– abandon carts and there’s no way to completely change that. But we can seek to understand how many shopping carts are abandoned on average, why cart abandonment happens, and where there’s room for improvement.

For example, Baymard averaged the results from 44 studies and found that 50% of shoppers will abandon carts because of high extra costs like shipping, tax, and fees.

They also found that 28% won’t buy when they are required to create an account to checkout.

What’s interesting is that 21% of shoppers will abandon a cart because of a long or complicated checkout process. Yet most checkout flows contain around 15 form fields for users to fill out, as opposed to the 7-8 Baymard found to be ideal.

Armed with these stats, you’ll be able to understand what a good shopping cart abandonment rate is and the steps you can take to improve yours.

Tip: Here’s the shopping cart abandonment rate formula to figure out your store’s abandonment rate.

It’s the number of completed transactions divided by the number of initiated transactions, subtracted from 1, and multiplied by 100.

Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment

Understanding why online shopping cart abandonment happens is key to reducing it and winning what would otherwise be lost sales.

Here are the top 10 reasons for shopping cart abandonment.

Hidden shipping costs

This is the number one reason for digital shopping cart abandonment, especially among shoppers who want to purchase only one item. Most people expect to see all costs associated with a product before they reach the checkout page.

So when they think a new pair of shoes is going to cost them $50, only to find an extra $10 shipping fee at the checkout page, it’s no doubt an unexpected and unpleasant shock. Imagine having to pay $20 in shipping fees for a $10 product, and only finding out at the tail end of the transaction.

Ironically, most stores will only calculate and display shipping costs at the checkout page –after the buyer must have entered their address.

And because you've wasted the buyer’s time and energy, this becomes a problem not only for your abandonment rates but for return visits as well. Customers develop negative associations with buying from you.

Unexpected delivery times

You may easily overlook the length of delivery times as a potential reason for shopping cart abandonment. But 18% of shoppers are likely to abandon their cart because of this.

While online shoppers know they won't receive their purchase immediately (except in the case of digital products), most shoppers expect that their items will be delivered within a reasonable timeframe. If the time of delivery goes beyond their expected timeline, they are likely to shop somewhere else or even go to a brick-and-mortar store instead.

Mandatory account creation

Imagine searching online for a product you are interested in. You find a store that looks promising, read the product page, add the item to your cart, and proceed to checkout only to meet a "create an account to complete your purchase" prompt. With 7+ form fields sometimes! Chances are, you'll be frustrated over the wasted time and hit the back button.

Requiring customers to create an account adds unnecessary steps to the checkout flow and is a reason for cart abandonment for up to 28% of shoppers.

Not ready to buy

Another reason why shoppers may abandon carts is simply that they are not ready to buy. They may be doing some window-shopping, comparing prices or features, or simply planning a future purchase.

This particular reason for shopping cart abandonment has nothing to do with how good your product or sales page is, or how seamless your checkout experience is. But even though it is out of your control, it doesn't mean that there is nothing you can do about it.

We’ll share with you how to turn some of these would-be lost sales into revenue in a bit.

High pricing

Customers like to shop around for the best deal before they commit. So if your prices are higher than other stores, they'll likely quit the purchase.

But why do they bother to add items to the cart if they are just going to quit? Sometimes, when buyers want to purchase multiple products they may find that prices differ for each product across different stores. What they would then do is add all the products they want to the cart in each of the stores, then see which one comes out to the best final price.

Lack of trust

To complete a purchase, online customers need to provide sensitive information like credit card details. This is why a lack of trust in your website can lead to cart abandonment.

Things like poor reviews take away from your credibility and can also affect the cart abandonment rate. Sites that don't display security badges, trust seals, and an SSL certificate will often turn off potential buyers.

Complex checkout process

21% of buyers say that they’ll abandon an online shopping cart if the Checkout process is complex or complicated. Many sites complicate their checkout process by asking shoppers to create accounts or having them click through too many pages before they can checkout.

This lengthens the checkout process, makes it more cumbersome, and leaves buyers enough time to start experiencing buyers’ remorse before they can pay.

Poor mobile experience

When you factor that mobile users have more payment options than desktop i.e mobile wallets, it becomes more important to provide a stellar mobile experience.

If customers have to keep zooming in and out on mobile, or if they experience issues while entering their details they become more likely to exit without checking out.

Lack of support

Even when you've built a seamless shopping experience, many shoppers will have questions that need to be addressed. Most times, not addressing those questions at the point of sale will lead to shopping cart abandonment.

It's easy to think that a FAQs page will do, but many shoppers will rather buy from somewhere with live chat, or email support than read your FAQs page. It's not just about having questions answered, there's a sense of trust when support feels personalized.

Ambiguous return and/or refund policies

Most shoppers want to know that they can easily return a purchase and get a refund for it should anything go wrong. So it's easy to see why an unclear return or refund policy can be a problem.

For example, mentioning "7-Day Replacement" on the sales page might raise questions like "who pays for shipping?", "Will I get a replacement within 7 days or do I have to request a replacement within 7 days?". These questions can lead to doubt, uncertainty, and confusion regarding the purchase and cause them to abandon their cart.

Negative Effects of Digital Shopping Cart Abandonment

There are 3 major reasons why shopping cart abandonment is a problem for retailers:

  1. Loss of revenue.
  2. Reduced product availability.
  3. Deflated conversion rates.

Loss of revenue

When you think of the negative effects of shopping cart abandonment, loss of revenue is most likely the first that comes to mind, and for good reason.

According to Forrester’s research, shopping cart abandonment costs eCommerce brands a whopping $18 Billion in yearly sales revenue.

It’s also estimated that $4 Trillion worth of products will be abandoned in carts this year.

Reduced product availability

When users click "add to cart", the shopping cart software adjusts the store inventory to avoid multiple orders that can't be fulfilled for low inventory products.

This means abandoned carts may end up making products unavailable to people who want to buy.

Those genuine customers may move on to a competitor’s site, buy from them, and potentially become _their _long-term customers.

Deflated conversion rates

Cart abandonment happens close to 70% of the time and some of those will be out of your control. That’s a huge percentage of lost sales.

The higher the abandoned carts, the more deflated your conversion rates will be.

The average conversion rates for Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile traffic are 2.1, 3.32, and 2.01% respectively.

These numbers will be lower if you have a high shopping cart abandonment rate.

12 Ways to Reduce Online Shopping Cart Abandonment

Want to reduce your online shopping cart abandonment rate but don’t know where to start?

Let's talk about things you can do to significantly reduce abandonment and convert more of the traffic you work hard to earn.

Offer live chat support

Real-time chat leads to higher conversion rates. Many times, a buyer will have one question standing in the way of the purchase. Implementing live chat allows you to offer support, overcome objections and empower online shoppers to complete the purchase.

People like to chat with real humans, so the best case scenario is to have a dedicated team of support specialists on hand to offer personalized responses. But you could also use chatbots to deliver pre-programmed responses that use natural language. Doing this will significantly reduce shopping cart abandonment in your store.

Another benefit to using live chat software is the real-time data it provides. This can help you send proactive messages to your visitors to guide them to the right product, and even incentivize the purchase with discount codes.

Offer free or discounted shipping

One reason for shopping cart abandonment is the hidden shipping fees and taxes the visitor only sees at the time of checkout. When faced with these unexpected costs, many users will decide to shop around for a better deal.

A highly effective way to reduce or even prevent it from happening in the first place is to reduce the costs for your customers. You can do this by offering free shipping even before people reach the checkout page.

A floating bar positioned at the top of your site for everyone to see is the most common way to promote a free shipping offer.

This simple offer will encourage your visitors to load up their carts and complete their purchase without worrying about extra costs.

Provide multiple payment options

To reduce shopping cart abandonment, you need to make sure your potential buyer has no excuse not to buy from you. One of those potential excuses is a lack of a preferred payment option.

So if you are still sticking to only credit cards you may want to rethink that approach.

Accepting Paypal payments is pretty standard these days but have you considered mobile payment options like Google Wallet and Apple Pay? Especially for those mobile users, and for younger more tech-savvy buyers who love convenience.

Although this may increase your merchant service fee, you'll be giving customers the power to choose and the profits from the increased sales should outweigh whatever fees or inconvenience you may experience by providing additional payment options.

Use trust icons

Many people will have issues with entering their personal information, contact details, and even credit card details if they don’t see recognizable trust logos.

Including trust badges on your eCommerce website and transaction, forms will increase people’s trust and confidence in your store.

In a study, Baymard found that "seals from well-known consumer-facing brands, like Norton and Google, perform very well (even though Google no longer uses the ‘Trusted Store’ seal)"

Consider using:

  • Recognized trust seals
  • Money-back guarantee seals
  • SSL security badges
  • Secure payment icons
  • Industry award badges
  • Accepted payment option logos (for example credit cards).

When people see these icons on your website, it will increase their confidence in your site, the likelihood of completing their purchases and in turn reduce your cart abandonment rate.

Include a progress bar

Who wouldn't want to know exactly where they are at any stage in a journey?

The checkout process is a journey your customer takes and they want to know where they are, and how much more time it will take to complete. A progress indicator shows customers how close they are to checking out instead of keeping them guessing.

This effectively removes the potential for worry that buying things from your website takes more time than they are willing to commit. A progress indicator will assure them constantly that they are almost done, and in turn reduce your cart abandonment rate.

Include product thumbnails during checkout

Including thumbnail images of products throughout the purchasing process is a simple way to remind and reassure customers of what they are purchasing. These images provide the clarity and certainty associated with shopping in a brick-and-mortar store –one key thing people prefer traditional stores to online stores for.

By showing the product images throughout the process, you reassure them that they didn't add the wrong product to the cart, and in cases where they get temporarily distracted, a photo of the product reminds them of what they were trying to purchase and why.

Include prominent CTAs

The job of your call to action is to guide the buyer along the path you want them to take. Make them bold, clear, and compelling across your site.

Another thing many store owners don't see the need for is call to actions on checkout pages, but it’s the perfect location for strong calls to actions that push customers to complete the transaction.

Even if you have CTAs (call to actions) on your product pages, it's smart to add them to your checkout pages too. While doing so, avoid using ambiguous words like "Continue" and use clear CTAs like "Continue to shipping" for example, to provide a sense of direction and an understanding of what's expected of them.

The problem with using a word like "continue" is that the buyer doesn't know what they are continuing to. Will they be charged now? Will they need to create an account? Using clear and compelling CTAs removes confusion and encourages them to finish.

Also, try to use consistent messaging across your CTAs on your site. If you choose fun, friendly language, maintain this tone throughout the checkout process.

Enable saved shopping carts

Let's imagine that you have a list of things you want from Target but don't have the money to pay for them right away. You have two choices, write them down on a piece of paper that may get lost, or go straight to Target, fill up your cart then park it at a private room where you can come pick it up once you are ready to pay. Which would you choose?

Or say you went into the mall with a budget in mind, but along the line, you find stuff that you need even though they aren't in your budget, wouldn't you come back to pay if the attendant offered to save them for you intact in a room? Well, thanks to browser cookies and IP recognition these scenarios are possible with online shopping. And they are to the advantage of the store too.

When you make it easy for your users to return to carts-in-progress, you remove the need to start hunting all over again making them more likely to buy at their convenience. Make saving a shopping cart on your website as easy as clicking a single button and even though you may not make the sale today, your overall sales rate will improve.

Offer guest checkouts

It's understandable why many stores require users to create an account to complete a purchase. After all, getting a customer's email address and recognizing their purchase decisions helps you offer personalized marketing and increases sales. Yet, forcing customers to sign up before they can buy will hurt your sales.

When asked, 28% of online shoppers say they will abandon a buying process because of mandatory account creation. To these people demanding login is asking for too much and makes the checkout process unnecessarily complex.

By offering a guest checkout option, you make it easier for people to buy. And even though you may feel like you are losing out on remarketing opportunities, people who've bought from you will be more willing to come back and shop with you again. When they do, take advantage of incentives like loyalty programs to get them to create accounts!

Provide a money-back guarantee

The difference between buying in-store and buying online is that you get to see, touch, and even test the product in a traditional brick-and-mortar store. With online stores, customers can't know for sure that the product they'll get will be what they thought they ordered. That's why the more you can reassure them, the more likely you'll be to close the sale.

One of the best ways to do this is to offer a money-back guarantee. Doing so shifts the mind framing of the customer from "what if this is the wrong size?" to "I can't wait to try this out". With the first framing, it's easy to let hesitation get in the way of completing the purchase.

Improve page load speed

If you haven't optimized your store to load as fast as possible yet, this should be first on your list.

Slow loading times are detrimental to conversion rates for 3 major reasons:

  • Online shoppers are largely impatient so the longer it takes to process an order, the more likely it is that they'll abandon the process.
  • Customers may be left wondering if the order already went through.
  • Users will be unlikely to buy a second item after a slow checkout process.

Some key culprits of slow online pages are poorly coded scripts, large images, and bloated plugins so use only the best-reviewed plugins (the fewer the better), compress your images, serve images in the best format that balances viewability with size, and optimize your code.

Make store-to-cart navigation seamless

Effective navigation is a key part of every successful eCommerce store’s site setup. If customers can’t figure out what to do or where to go to find what they are looking for on your site, they'll promptly take their business elsewhere.

Focus on creating a navigation menu that uses clear and meaningful language. It should be easy to find the right product with a simple click of a drop-down menu i.e. the labels should be less creative, more clear. And don't forget to add the cart icon to the top of your navigation so it's easy for people to find their carts even if they get lost while shopping.

Here are some other things you can do to make navigation seamless:

  • Make Top-Level Items Clickable - Dropdowns can be confusing to some visitors so even when you use them, make the top-level labels link to a category landing page.
  • Add navigation menus to the header, footer, and maybe even a sidebar for better accessibility.
  • Make use of breadcrumbs to show customers where they are at all times.

Don’t Forget About Shopping Cart Recovery

Even if you optimize your checkout process to 100%, they’ll still be people who choose to stop halfway through while checking out. Maybe they get distracted along the way, or maybe they are just bargain hunters looking for the best deal. Whatever the case may be, it’s still possible to win a sale after a customer has decided to call it quits.

Here are some ideas to recover sales even after a customer abandons their cart.

Exit-intent popups

Exit-intent popups are those disruptive messages that appear at the moment your user wants to leave your website.

With cart abandonment popups, you can regain a customer's attention and get them to give up their email address for remarketing or even convince them to buy.

Here are some ideas to try for your exit-intent popup:

  • Offer free shipping - If it's a large cart and the profits from the order can cover shipping it may be a great idea to offer free shipping.
  • Invite them to enter for a giveaway.
  • Offer a special limited-time discount.
  • Offer a cheaper alternative.

There's no limit to how you can creatively use exit-intent popups to recover lost sales.

Retargeting ads

Retargeting ads are ads that try to get your user to come back after they’ve left your site. These ads appear in their social media feeds or on other places they visit online.

Take this one for example.

Visiting the Nomatic site without checking out will trigger an ad like this on Facebook.

Retargeting works with cookies that use Javascript code to anonymously ‘follow’ your user around the web.

You place a simple pixel (small code) on your site, a new user visits, the code drops an anonymous browser cookie. That cookie triggers a message to your retargeting provider to serve ads when the visitor browses the web.

This type of advertising is very effective because it focuses on people who already demonstrated an intent to buy.

Abandoned cart email series

Shopping cart abandonment emails serve to remind the user of the items they left in their cart.

Ideally, your abandoned cart email series will include some kind of incentive to get the user to come back and complete the purchase whether that's a limited time discount, free shipping offer, an opportunity to win products in a giveaway, or an alternative they may be more interested in.

Don't forget to add testimonials to at least one email in the series to showcase your credibility.

Combat Shopping Cart Abandonment Today

Shopping cart abandonment is a huge pain for eCommerce store owners, true. It deflates conversion rates, reduces revenue, and can even affect product availability.

But there are things you can do to significantly reduce your abandonment rate.

Just a few: improve page load speed, offer guest checkouts, free or discounted shipping, and allow for multiple payment methods.

Remember that many users expect support so it's best to also implement live chat with a live chat software like JivoChat.

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