Ecommerce Shopping Cart Abandonment and What You Can Do About It

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the most disheartening occurrences for hardworking ecommerce merchants. Customers fill their online shopping cart, yet do not continue with the checkout process and leave the website before the sale is completed. Imagine a brick-and-mortar supermarket experiencing over half of their customers filling their shopping carts, then deserting them before heading to the checkout line. In order to lower the amount of online cart abandonment, ecommerce merchants must understand and adapt to the behavior of consumers visiting their website.

Understanding Cart Abandonment

According to the Baymard Institute, online cart abandonment occurred on almost 70% of all instances in which consumers added items to their virtual cart in 2016. At an abandonment rate this high, the ecommerce industry is set to lost over $3 billion in revenue each year. Online retailers suffering from these high percentage of abandonment rates should use data collection and research to understand the behaviors of site visitors. An awareness of what customers are abandoning and when they are doing it can help ecommerce merchants find ways to prevent this activity and improve sales revenue.

Reasons for Digital Cart Abandonment

It is a fair possibility that around half abruptly ditched shopping carts have no correlation to an issue with the products or checkout process. Of all online shoppers in the United States, about 58% have abandoned their carts in the last 90 days because they were simply browsing or price shopping multiple sites without the intention of making a purchase. These “price shoppers”, also known as “tire kickers”, create headaches for ecommerce store managers and digital marketers that rely on analytical traffic data to improve their online store’s design layout, user-experience, and conversion rates.

It is very common for visitors to compare prices and bookmark or save items of interest for future follow-up. Social networking programs like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are used often by consumers for this form of digital window shopping. Nate Slavik, digital marketer and owner of ecommerce website,, explains “price shoppers will continue to negatively affect an online store’s organic search traffic. It is important to implement the proper on-page analytical tracking software that can distinguish this behavior from that of viable customers. The right data helps digital marketers and web developers improve user-experience, which leads to much higher conversion rates”. Without properly studying web store visitor traffic, the real cost and reasons of abandonment may never be understood by the ecommerce marketer.

Checkout Abandonment Motives

Once the statistics of “window browsers and price shoppers” has been understood and placed in its own bounce rate category, the remaining reasons for shopping cart abandonment are enlightening. Below are the most common reasons online consumers decided to ditch their shopping cart, despite having an intention to purchase:

  • Extra or hidden fees, such as sales tax and delivery charges
  • Customer frustration with store account registration and email authentication being required prior to checkout
  • Complicated or long payment process
  • Inability to calculate cost of items in cart before entering the checkout process
  • Site errors or unexpected crashes
  • Customer distrust in entering their credit card details
  • Slow delivery options

Subpar checkout design and payment flow issues are costing ecommerce sites $260 million per year, however they are relatively easy issues to fix. Online retailers can boost conversion rates by almost 40% just by improving ecommerce site design and eliminating the problems listed above.

What can ecommerce store owners do to prevent online cart abandonment?

An increase in site traffic means nothing if an online store’s conversion rate is not improving. If this is the case, there are a number of measures that can help lower the rate of lost orders.

  • Make checkout lightning fast

88% of people shopping online prefer a rapid checkout experience. One-step checkout options should be provided to cut down unnecessary requirements from customers, such as account creation, complicated form registration, and mandatory login prior to payment completion. One-click checkouts are now the standard and expected by the majority of online consumers.

  • Avoid hidden fees and pricing complexities

If potential customers discover unexpected costs, including high shipping fees, it can prompt them to abandon their shopping carts. When a shopper has chosen an item after viewing the price, they don’t expect that price to change unreasonably. While taxes and shipping costs are expected, sometimes online buyers are presented with credit charge fees or expensive delivery costs that eliminate the desire to purchase. Online merchants sometimes advertise low prices or sales to remain competitive, but raise shipping fees at the end of the checkout process in an attempt to maintain margins. Shoppers are discouraged by this practice and it can hurt a retailer’s revenue over time. A great way to provide transparency is to include a shipping calculator at the beginning of the checkout process to provide shoppers with the most accurate transaction total.

  • Offer a wide variety of payment options

Not everyone wants to pay for online products with their credit cards and if a shopper cannot find a payment option that works for them, they will abandon the cart and move on to another ecommerce site. Online stores should offer a number of secure payment methods beyond credit cards, such as PayPal, Visa Checkout, or Digital wallets are superb third-party payment options, used by millions of online buyers that do not wish to manually add their credit card information with every checkout.

  • Pursue lost orders with email marketing

Once a potential buyer has deserted their cart, use email marketing to reconnect with them. The cart deserter’s email is often captured and can be used to entice the customers to return and complete their checkout.

There are many different email marketing tools with diverse strategies of connecting with cart abandoners, such as offering coupon codes and discounts on their order. Some of the tools are attuned to offer potential customers another payment option if merchants believe that to be the issue.

  • Remarketing advertisements

Remarketing ads can help bring customers back to the ecommerce site on which they abandoned their items. Remarketing software use cookies to show targeted ads to previous visitors as they browse other online stores. Apart from encouraging the person to return and complete the checkout transaction, remarketing ads also display enticing sales alert to pull the user back to the ecommerce site or capture them with special deals.

  • Assure customers of their payment security

Payment security doubts can compel many shoppers to abandon their carts. Ecommerce stores should incorporate a number of indicators to communicate that a web store is secure and trustworthy. Including reputable product reviews and endorsements from past buyers presents credibility for online retailers. Customers should feel comfortable contacting a store at any point in the buying process, so ecommerce merchants should ensure all company contact details are openly visible on their websites. These efforts to prioritize the privacy and concerns of buyers helps to building reputation and trust straightaway.

Shopping cart abandonment has a huge effect on the profits and performance of a web store. Fortunately for the millions of ecommerce businesses that experience cart abandonment, around 63% of those lost orders can be recovered by implementing solutions to common problems.

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