How to Improve Your Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate

Nathalie Nilsson eCommerce business analyst and author
| 9 min read
empty shopping cart
empty shopping cart

One of the most important key performance indicators for any eCommerce merchant is the shopping cart abandonment rate. This figure is usually between 60-80%, but there are claims that the best-optimized checkout process can reduce this to as low as 20%. However, in order to implement cart abandonment solutions to lower your rate, you must first understand the reasons for cart abandonment.

What is shopping cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is when a visitor adds one or several items to their shopping cart but leaves the eCommerce website without completing the purchase. You can calculate your cart abandonment rate as follows:

Shopping cart abandonment rate formula

The average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%, but industry averages can vary greatly.

What are the reasons for cart abandonment?

Once you know your current shopping cart abandonment rate it is time to improve it. In order to do that, you first need to understand the many reasons for cart abandonment. A Baymard study in 2020 reveals the following:

Shopping cart abandonment reasons stats

The majority of these issues can be addressed and improved.

Where are your would-be customers dropping out?

The second step is to take a closer look at the traffic on your eCommerce website. You probably already use Google Analytics, and if not, the sooner you start the better. “Behaviour flow” will provide you with a helpful overview of how people explore your website.

Which are the pages where visitors most frequently abandon your website? How many of these are pages related to the checkout process? This will provide you with solid data as to where you should focus your attention first and foremost.

How to improve your shopping cart abandonment rate

Once you know your cart abandonment rate, the frequent exit pages on your website, and what the common reasons for cart abandonment are… Great! Now it is time to use that knowledge to reduce your cart abandonment rate and increase conversions.

Optimize loading times

40% of visitors abandon a website if they have to wait longer than three seconds for it to load, and every one-second delay negatively affects your conversion rate. Consequently, it is essential that your entire website loads quickly, but doubly so the checkout process as it frequently involves multiple stages that each loaded separately.

Ways to improve your loading speed include:

  • Optimizing images for a good balance between loading speed and quality
  • Limiting the use of social plugins
  • Reducing the number of redirects
  • Using browser caching
  • Using content management systems (CMSs), such as that provided by Magento, that are designed for eCommerce

Guest checkout

Your customers want to complete their purchase as quickly as possible, and for many having to create an account is too much work. When 28% rather walk away from a purchase than set up an account, offering a guest checkout can make a huge difference in conversions.

Call to action on checkout pages

Just because a visitor has put items in their cart and proceeded to the checkout does not mean that they no longer need encouragement. You need clear calls to action (CTAs) throughout the checkout process.

Look at the CTAs on your eCommerce website. Do they make it clear what is expected of the customer? Can they be improved? Run some A/B testing to see what your audience responds best to.

Progress indicator

A fifth of responders abandoned their cart due to a long or complicated checkout process. Many of these might have thought there was a lot more work for them to do to complete their purchase than there actually was.

Providing a progress indicator during the checkout process can reduce the shopping cart abandonment rate. It gives customers a better idea of how close they are to finishing the order process. Try to keep the checkout process short, the fewer steps the better. If you can combine some steps into one, such as letting your customer fill out the delivery address and delivery method on the same page, do so. There is a world of difference between being on step two out of three, compared to two out of eight.

Thumbnails during the checkout process

Unless your customer is in the middle of a shopping spree, they will likely remember what they have placed in their shopping cart. However, providing a small, recognizable picture of the product during the checkout process will better remind your visitor why they want the item than text alone. This is especially useful if your products are listed as names, rather than descriptive titles.

Offer multiple payment options

Several of the most common reasons for cart abandonment are related to payment. Visitors not trusting your website with their credit card information, not offered enough payment options, having to create an account… The list is long. Many of these can be solved by providing multiple credible and easy-to-use payment options.

eCommerce Payment Methods banner

Shipping costs

In a study made by the UPS, shipping costs were the leading cause of shopping cart abandonment. However, it is not just a matter of shipping costs being too pricy that is an issue. Surprising your customers with shipping costs at the end of a transaction is an even worse offender.

It is not just shipping costs that you need to be upfront about either.The same is true for shipping regions. Your customer has no choice but to abandon their cart if they discover that you cannot deliver to them.

You should also offer alternatives. Some people are happy to pay extra to have their purchase delivered quickly. Others prefer waiting if it means that the shipping cost is low or, even better, free.

Return policy

If your visitor is confused by the wording of your return policy, or if the terms are unsatisfactory, they are likely to go to your competitor. Because of this it is important that your return policy is easy to understand and easy to find on your eCommerce website. On this page, take the time to answer any questions about returns that your customers could have. Under what circumstances are they allowed to return the item? How many days do they have to decide whether or not they want to keep it? If they want a replacement, how long will that take? A generous return policy can become a selling point.

Save the abandoned shopping cart

Sometimes your cart will be abandoned not because of lack of interest but out of necessity when something urgent happens in your would-be customer’s life. It is also possible that while interested, that visitor was not ready to buy just yet. By saving the cart you make it easy for them to return at a later date and complete their purchase.

This can be accomplished by asking your visitor to make an account, but, as previously discussed, this can be a big ask. Alternatively, you can use cookies to remember the content of the visitor’s cart. If you choose the latter, remember to be upfront about it.

To combat this kind of shopping cart abandonment, remarketing campaigns are an especially useful tool.

Mobile-friendly eCommerce

There is another important factor that plays a key role in shopping cart abandonment rates: the device your customer is using. A study done in 2017 shows the following abandonment rates per device:

  • Desktop: 67.1%
  • Tablet: 70%
  • Mobile: 77.8%

This can be due to shoppers investigating what your eCommerce store has to offer while they are on the go on their phone. It is entirely possible that they complete their purchase on a different device. However, there is also a very real possibility that the high shopping cart abandonment rate on mobile devices is due to websites not being mobile-friendly. By offering a mobile-friendly eCommerce website you not only improve the odds for conversion but also your search engine ranking.

Customer feedback

Reach out to your customers and ask them what they thought of their shopping experience. This can help you better understand the data you have gathered and improve your eCommerce store accordingly.

If you send a confirmation email to your customers upon purchase, you can ask them to provide feedback at the same time. Odds are that your customer will open the email to double-check the information and can answer your questions while the experience is still fresh in their mind. Additionally, since a confirmation email is a welcome feature, your request is unlikely to be experienced as spammy.

Reducing your shopping cart abandonment rate is one of the most efficient ways to improve your conversion rate. As such, these cart abandonment solutions can make a world of difference for your business. If you need help setting up or polishing your eCommerce store, get in touch! We are more than happy to make it shine.

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