Online Shopping Cart Abandonment: Reasons & Solutions

The average shopping cart abandonment rate in e-commerce business remains as high as 69.8%. You're missing out on 70 out of 100 potential orders.

We're here to discuss what makes online shoppers abandon their carts and what proactive steps online retailers can take to reduce their average cart abandonment rate and create a much better shopping experience.

What's shopping cart abandonment?

Cart abandonment means your customers chooses to drop out of the checkout process without completing the purchase — and it happens more often than you think.

Shopping cart abandonment rate in the e-commerce industry fluctuates from business to business and depends on the consumer's location, seasonality, devices used, categories of goods, among other factors.

Cart abandonment vs checkout abandonment

It can also be helpful to differentiate between shopping cart abandonment and checkout abandonment. While the former refers to those who are window shopping or doing initial research without any intention to buy on the checkout page, checkout abandonment refers to consumers who close your online store's tab specifically during the checkout process.

Now, let's cover both.

People will always abandon their carts, and we've grown to expect it. Sometimes it's just about casual browsing or creating an online wish list, so your potential consumers have no intention of completing the purchase in the first place, and that's okay.

Abandoned carts are inevitable and highly common in e-commerce sales, especially in mobile commerce. Although there's not a whole lot we can do to stop it, there are things you can do to tackle shopping cart abandonment and effectively recover lost sales.

Let's address the challenge — 'what' and 'how'

What really presents a challenge for many e-commerce brands is that they don’t have a strategy in place to reduce cart abandonment rates.

Or they don't know where to begin. They have already formulated a strategy needed to tackle cart abandonment — the 'what' — but what halts them is figuring out how to execute the strategy once formulated — the 'how'.

We're here to help you accomplish exactly that. We'll go over multiple cart abandonment tips available to your e-commerce store.

For starters, it can be advantageous to know what drives consumers away from the finish line. Then, we'll explore several avenues to dramatically reduce shopping cart abandonment, drive conversions, increase profits and give your consumers what they came for — a seamless shopping experience. 

  • Start with a smart UX design
  • Offer guest checkout
  • Avoid hidden costs
  • Experiment with free delivery
  • Make an accurate delivery promise
  • Offer multiple payment options
  • Leverage email marketing to recover abandoned carts 
  • Increase the average order value with discounts
  • Make the most of user-generated content
  • Consider split messaging
  • Set up remarketing ads  

Start with a smart UX design

Consumers may abandon their shopping carts even before reaching checkout and delivery. Slow site speed, unresponsive pages, and lack of transparency are annoying at the very least and counterproductive at worst. No matter the quality, value, curation, and sustainability of your products, poor user experience (UX) design will ultimately result in an awkward shopping journey and discourage future purchases.

More specifically, a complicated checkout process will surely affect your conversion rates and put off potentially loyal customers. Online shoppers want to hit the button as quickly and easily as it gets. Isn't that the reason why we even shop online?

Seamless checkout process to reduce cart abandonment

Zach Goldstein, CEO & Founder of Public Rec, shares:

— We used A/B testing methods to optimize our abandon rate by changing the content, design, and layout of our checkout pages. For the best results, focus on UX design and test web preferences of your target audience".

You can, for instance, achieve a better checkout flow by reducing the number of steps and forms to be filled or including a progress indicator in the checkout process. Keep it short and sweet. Simplify your checkout page, be upfront about delivery costs, and offer the most popular payment methods.

People desire certainty. Online retailers need to align user expectations with design implementations to reduce cart abandonment, increase conversions and attract future purchases.

Seamless checkout experience example from NA-KD.
Seamless checkout experience example from NA-KD

Sign up? Continue as a guest

Nobody likes to create accounts and lose passwords. Even if it takes only one click and a social media profile. Unsurprisingly, account creation comes second on the list of things that make customers abandon shopping carts at checkout. It's counterintuitive to the hassle-free expectation of online shopping.

Your consumers and cart abandoners are way more likely to complete their purchase when they're faced with an easy and transparent checkout flow that motivates them to follow through with the buying promise.

According to Grace Baena, Director of Brand at Kaiyo, one of the top reasons for cart abandonment is forced account creation

— Forcing users to create an account or register in order to add items to a virtual cart is typically a bad idea. It breaks the purchase cycle and turns some customers away, she says.

Guest checkout example from Weekday store.
Guest checkout example from Weekday

Create a personalized checkout page without logging in

Personalizing the checkout experience can be complex, but you can do it even by offering a guest checkout option.

Let's consider delivery, for instance. With Ingrid Checkout, your customers will have the most convenient delivery options to choose from. Collect basic contact info, identify the customer's location through the postcode, offer intelligent delivery methods with the best-suited carriers and implement a flawless post-purchase tracking experience — all without logging in.

Ingrid Tracking in use.
Ingrid Tracking in use

Ankur Goyal, Head of Growth at Coterie adds:

— Creating an account is a hassle and makes the checkout process inconvenient. You can include the option to sign-up in a follow-up email confirming their purchase or asking for feedback.

The strategy and tactics of e-commerce delivery

Have you ever dropped out of the checkout process because delivery cost ended up being nearly as much as the unordered item? Or have you ever quit the purchase because none of the delivery methods made sense to your life schedule? There's a chance your consumers may have.

What they want instead are the most convenient, cheapest, and fastest delivery options. They want a personalized delivery experience that fits their life and doesn't cost as much as the entire 12-step skincare routine they're ordering.

Avoid hidden costs

Consumers tend to abandon their carts when you hit them with high or altogether unexpected delivery costs. It's the most common cause of shopping cart abandonment — it accounts for about half of abandoned online orders.

Stephen Light, CEO and Co-Owner of Nolah Mattress, recommends:

— Unexpected delivery costs are one of the biggest culprits for cart abandonment across the board for e-commerce stores, so it’s crucial to be as transparent as possible from the get-go. Companies can reduce cart abandonment rates by making delivery costs explicitly clear, so that they’re not a surprise once buyers go to checkout, and by offering free shipping to get buyers rocketing through the checkout process.

Set up a delivery-first checkout flow

Be transparent about your delivery costs upfront. We're way past the point where the total cost of the delivery belongs at the end of the checkout journey. Display your delivery pricing on the homepage or product page — make it one of the first things your consumers will encounter and be able to calculate.

Ingrid Product Page widget in action.
Ingrid Product Page

Opt for a data-driven delivery-pricing

That's one just side of the story though. You can use data-driven delivery pricing in a way that benefits both your consumers and your e-commerce business at the same time. If you're not sure where to start, consider your associated delivery costs and combine multiple delivery rates and methods to find the best fit for your company and protect your margins.

Reduce cart abandonment with free delivery upsell

One frequent rate structure would be to set free delivery criteria for a certain shopping cart value, combined with a fixed delivery rate across all products if they are fairly similar in dimensions, or groups of products. 

Greg Zakowicz, Senior E-commerce Expert at Omnisend, comments:

— Free delivery upsell, this is where the strategy against cart abandonment comes in. Act base on the cart total. Say, there's a number of people who abandoned their carts and they're under the free delivery threshold. What do we do with our messaging? We want to prominently remind them of the remaining amount to spend to get free delivery.

Delivery Upsell example from IDEAL OF SWEDEN.
Delivery Upsell example from IDEAL OF SWEDEN

IDEAL OF SWEDEN, a global fashion and lifestyle brand for premium phone accessories, was able to boost revenue by 7% in their Dutch market using Ingrid Delivery Upsell.

Without qualitative and quantitative data on delivery pricing at hand, it was unclear at what delivery price point potential consumers would be the most likely to make a purchase after adding products to the cart. They've been setting different delivery prices in different markets while searching for a solution that would make the price setting more data-driven. 

The brand used Ingrid Delivery Upsell widget to set the free delivery criteria to a cart value of 45 EUR or above to A/B test consumer preferences in the Dutch market. The assumption was to raise the average order value (AOV) and transaction conversion rate (TCR), while also boosting the number of upsell products — displayed underneath the free shipping indicator — to be added to the initial cart value.

The results speak for themselves — a 7.81% increase in the transaction conversion rate, i.e., fewer abandoned carts, with a 7% AOV boost.

Identify your competitive advantage to add value

You may or may not offer free delivery. Say, you have a flat rate of 5 EUR, so your consumers automatically expect their cart value to be 5 EUR ahead and, therefore, your product pricing is 5 EUR ahead of the competitors who do offer free delivery.

There's got to be some added value that will give your customers that incentive to stay with you and complete the purchase. Perhaps you offer free returns, and your competitors don't. Don't think like a business owner or marketer for a while—think like a consumer. What would matter to you at this point in time as a consumer?

You need to know your consumers and play the game of their ever-evolving expectations, the driving force behind all of the latest e-commerce trends around. Reverse-engineer your delivery strategy based on consumer behavior and find that perfect balance to protect your margins and give the consumers what they want.

Make an accurate delivery promise

It's not only the price and speed of delivery that count for a great shopping experience. You need to be focusing on 'when', not 'how soon', as well as helping your consumers feel in control of the process by letting them choose a preferred method of last-mile delivery services.

Ingrid Delivery Checkout example from Apoteket.
Apoteket: Ingrid Delivery Checkout example

Preferred means dynamic — consumer habits, seasons, item specifications, and estimated delivery times are some of the factors that determine which delivery method works for a specific purchase. Again, it's 'why', not 'how soon'. 

Offer a seamless delivery experience

95% of consumers go elsewhere if an online store doesn’t offer their desired delivery option. Adapt to consumer locations, depending on people's life patterns and seasons, be it in a big city, during an evening at home, or at a summer cottage in the countryside.

Sway your customers with the best delivery options possible, both affordable and reliable. To do so, you always need to think about adding more carriers and negotiating the best deals to deliver your orders on the consumer's terms no matter where they are.

E-commerce delivery has already transformed into an area with highly differentiated and flexible last-mile solutions, which are as crucial as stock and pricing, the traditional brand differentiators for your online store. 

Evolving consumer expectations put an increased demand on e-commerce to offer the most convenient last-mile solutions while at the same time lowering the cost-pressure of logistics. 

Assure your consumers they're in for the best payment methods

Remember the time when everyone felt skeptical about e-commerce out of safety concerns surrounding online card payments? Although today it's a thing of the past, there are other aspects of payment options — other than the SSL certificate and security logos reflected in the transaction form elements — that your e-commerce store needs to consider.

Accept alternative payment methods. When designing your e-commerce checkout page, you need to remember you're here to offer a seamless customer experience at every step of the way. It's entirely in your power to bring in that moment of delight at the last few clicks in checkout. That's what's it all about, isn't it?

Offer multiple payment options

Equally to safety concerns, long gone are the days when customers need to enter their credit card details into the transaction form and follow through with a bank confirmation. Today, online shoppers want to make their purchases using the payment methods that are most convenient for them. Your online store's lack of desirable payment methods may put another unnecessary obstacle between the customer's motivation and actual willingness to buy.

Make sure to include the most popular payment options, such as PayPal, used by hundreds of millions of consumers around the world; go-to digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Wallet; 'Buy Now Pay Later' (BNPL) solutions, such as Klarna, PayPo, Afterpay, Shopify's native Shop Pay Installments.

Payment methods available in the Adidas store.
Payment methods — Adidas store

Thanks to the latter, Shopify has been able to reduce shopping cart abandonment by 28% while doubling the AOV for one out of four of its merchants. With extra buying power, consumers get an opportunity to increase their cart value and divide the payment into four parts — with one tap and without any additional, hidden, or late fees.

Make payments methods a component of your success

That being said, choose a trusted, fully integrated platform of payment products that suit your business needs. Sure, the more payment methods you offer, the more hassle it is for you as an e-commerce store, but you’re giving your customers what they want — a seamless checkout experience that makes them want to come back.

Keep track of the latest industry microtrends and the opportunities for you to scale your business — by offering enough payment methods you can further optimize your checkout flow.

Leverage email marketing to reduce cart abandonment — best practices

In this context, let's consider two main reasons forcing customers to abandon their online shopping carts. They either wish to list products for later — they may or may not purchase them from you in the end — or they choose to abandon their carts in anticipation of an email discount code.

That's where email or text message nudges come in handy. If your customers are having second thoughts, you nudge them to take a fast decision. Formulate your unique messaging that will matter to them.

— Behavior-based messaging works, whether it's card abandonment or the post-purchase experience, Greg Zakowicz says. It's immediately relevant, it's timely — it's the 'right place, right time' nudge.

Leverage your business differentiators

Best practices are the first place to start but, it's not the last time you'll be thinking of them when formulating your long-term email marketing strategy — reasons for cart abandonment change over the years.

To begin, focus on your brand differentiators and create psychological leverage to sway a prospective consumer. Hone over your competitors. Product satisfaction, free delivery, free returns — you name it.

Greg Zakowicz explains:

— If you have free returns, offer free returns in an email nudge. If you don't have free returns, think about other things that make you jump out among your competitors and help overcome that hesitancy to buy. It's what adds value.

Cart abandonment email example from Ansel Footwear.
Cart abandonment email example from Ansel Footwear

Increase average order value with a discount code

There's a rule of thumb — nudge your cart abandoners within the first few hours when the anticipation is high, but save your margins and hold off on the discount until later. Of course, you can give them a coupon code to use at checkout immediately with no strings attached.

Alternatively, you can set up a discount upsell with a minimum threshold to spend, say a cart value of 300 EUR, to get 10% off. You get to increase your AOV, same as with the free delivery upsell, and your customers get a better deal. You're tapping into a better value for both sides of the transaction.

Make the most of user-generated content

If you maintain five-star reviews on product quality or fit, make user-generated content (UGC) — product rating score, testimonials, and social media posts — part of your nudge marketing. Your email content needs to enhance the shopping experience and be persuasive. Authentic social proof of your success ensures your nudges don't end up being disruptive and annoying, but instead bring the consumer to a deciding point and convey a feeling of trust.

Up to 90% of consumers find UGC to have a stronger impact on their buying decisions than neatly polished promotional brand content that may have largely desensitized everyone on the Internet by now. If you move towards UGC as a core content type in your online store's nudge marketing strategy, it would certainly be a step towards reducing your cart abandonment statistics.

Cart abandonment email example from Adidas.
Cart abandonment email example from Adidas

What's the right timing to nudge cart abandoners?

Normally, you nudge the hesitant consumer after one hour from cart abandonment, one day, a couple of days, or up to one week. The price point you offer correlates with the category of your products and, therefore, the time it takes your customer to take the decision.

Greg Zakowicz elaborates:

— If it's a 4,000 EUR TV, your potential consumers will take some time to map out your competitors and do a price comparison. If it's a 20 EUR headset, they'll decide a lot quicker. There's no one single practice that would fit any brand, so go out there, give it a try and get a sense what email cadence works for your online store.

Split messaging to lower average cart abandonment rate

Think of the cart abandoner's purchase history — such an easy yet often forgotten automated flow to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate. Have they bought from you before? Have they already made a purchase once and come back again? Are they loyal customers?

According to Greg Zakowicz, adding an automated segment will answer these questions in a matter of seconds and significantly change your approach towards cart abandonment tactics.

— Anything in between, like a second-time purchase, gives you the freedom to mix and match. Things have become so much easier in the past few years, and that's the beauty of e-commerce.

First-time purchases

Let's start with a non-purchaser, someone who has never bought from you before. Think of how much you invested in customer acquisition and all the marketing activities you did to bring them to your side — and they still abandoned their online shopping carts.

In this case, it makes the most sense to bring some added value into your marketing messaging to help cart abandoners feel comfortable purchasing from you for the first time. Hold off with a discount though — this will only add to your customer acquisition costs.

Loyal customers

What about loyal customers? Do you need to send them four emails in a row to tackle cart abandonment? Better not. Do you need to send them a discount code? Probably not, although you can additionally segment your loyal customers based on their AOV.

The bottom line is that they already like you. Make it easy for them to buy, and one email reminder would be more than enough.

Set up remarketing ads

According to Brian Babor, SEO e-commerce writer at Outbax, you can also try remarketing your products through Facebook ads and Google AdWords to target cart abandoners. Some consumers may need several references to your product while they're mulling over a purchase.

Again, it's all about our psychology. Retargeting your musing consumers with personalized ads keeps products they left in their abandoned carts at the top of their minds.

He says:

— Chances are, some of them are close to making an actual purchase. A little more push could do the trick, which is best achieved through consistent advertising.

Remarketing ad example from NAGO on Facebook.
Remarketing ad example from NAGO

Get the better of cart abandonment  

Frustrating and complicated checkout experience, unexpected costs, poor delivery expectations, and inconvenient payment methods are more likely than not to make consumers abandon their carts without committing to the purchase.

To reduce excessive shopping cart abandonment rates and succeed in today's experience-driven e-commerce industry, online retailers need to optimize all stages of the customer journey, starting from a better checkout flow that meets consumers' raised expectations.

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