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4 Steps to Tackle Shopping Cart Abandonment

There are steps you can take to drive down cart abandonment rates. Learn how your store stacks up, why shoppers tend to abandon their carts, and what you can do about it.

If you work in ecommerce, you’re probably well-acquainted with the frustrations of shopping cart abandonment. Your customer is right there, teetering on the edge of conversion. Then, next thing you know, they’re gone. Vanished. No purchase is made.

It’s an all too familiar scenario for most online retailers. But, there are steps you can take to drive down those cart abandonment rates. Read on to learn how your store stacks up against industry benchmarks, why shoppers tend to abandon their carts, and what you can do about it.

What is shopping cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment occurs when a customer selects a product, adds it to their cart, and then leaves the site without completing the purchase. Arguably, it’s one of the most exasperating stages to lose the customer, because (a) you have done everything right to get the shopper this far, and (b) it’s not always possible to discern the reason behind their abandonment. More on this later. 

To calculate your cart abandonment rate, you will first need to divide the total number of completed transactions by the total number of carts created in the same period. Then, subtract this figure from 1 and multiply by 100. 

The result will tell you the percentage of shoppers that fail to complete a purchase on your site, despite finding a product they like. If this number seems worryingly high, you’re not alone. 

Why is shopping cart abandonment a problem for retailers?

Without a doubt, shopping cart abandonment is a common occurrence in ecommerce. A whopping 88% of online shopping orders are abandoned, with some industries experiencing even higher rates. As our attention spans decline, and our affinity for multi-screening increases, it’s somewhat unsurprising that cart abandonment rates as a whole are on the rise.  

So, if it’s such a frequent phenomenon of ecommerce, why are businesses concerned about shopping cart abandonment? Should it be accepted as an inevitability of selling online? To a certain extent, maybe. But when your shoppers make it all the way through the buying journey only to fall at the final hurdle, it’s worth investigating whether certain optimizations could improve conversion rates. 

What are the reasons for shopping cart abandonment?

To reduce your shopping cart abandonment rates, it’s important to first understand the varied reasons that can lead customers to bounce at this crucial stage. Sure, sometimes the shopper just gets distracted and will return later. Maybe their credit card is in another room and they can’t quite drag themselves away from the sofa. Perhaps they’re just eagerly preparing their basket as they await the next payday. 

But, sometimes, something more problematic is at play on your site. Whether it’s a poor user experience when attempting to make payment, a problem with your checkout page design, or a last minute red flag in your policies, there are certain obstacles that need to be eliminated in order to facilitate a seamless checkout. Here are four issues to look out for:

1. Don’t conceal vital information

Are you surprising shoppers at the last minute with a delivery fee they didn’t anticipate? Unexpected shipping costs are one of the primary causes of cart abandonment. If you must charge for delivery, be upfront about it. Similarly, ensure shoppers are aware of your return policies and shipping timelines. Hiding this information until the last minute won’t trick shoppers into making a purchase. If anything, you’re likely to cause frustration and lose a potential customer. Make the relevant policies easy to find, and display any additional fees prominently, before the shopper gets to the payment page.    

2. Make customer service accessible

For the most part, your checkout page design should be minimalist and free of distractions. But, one link that should never be removed from the cart page is your customer support. In the event that a shopper encounters a technical issue or last minute concern, it should be easy for them to contact a representative who can resolve the issue. At this stage in the buying journey, time is of the essence. Your responses should be instant, and available 24 hours a day. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need an entire team of representatives waiting by the phone – an effective chatbot is usually sufficient to resolve the most common problems. 

3. Keep form-filling to a minimum

The more information you ask customers to provide, the more likely they are to become frustrated and abandon their carts. Assess the required fields at each stage of your checkout and determine whether each one is absolutely necessary. Enable autofill on forms so customers don’t have to enter repetitive information, and support multiple payment methods so they can choose the most convenient option for them in the moment. If you want to ask shoppers to sign up to your newsletter or provide feedback, wait until the order confirmation page to do so. 

4. Optimize for mobile

Is there anything more frustrating than pinching and zooming on a small screen while attempting to fill in a form that hasn’t been optimized for mobile? Not only is this a terrible user experience, it could also give shoppers a reason to doubt the legitimacy or trustworthiness of your ecommerce store. Mobile ecommerce is forecast to reach $845 billion in sales in the United States by 2022, an increase of 68% compared to 2020. Don’t give this substantial shopper base a reason to bounce to a more mobile-friendly competitor. 

Take action to reduce shopping cart abandonment

As an online retailer, a certain degree of shopping cart abandonment is to be expected. Some factors that lead shoppers to leave without converting are simply beyond your control. But, that doesn’t mean you should accept defeat in the fight against rising cart abandonment rates. By taking steps to streamline the checkout process and ensure customers have all of the information and functionality they expect, you can remove the most common obstacles in the path to purchase and significantly improve the likelihood of conversion.