Shopping Cart Abandonment: the Reasons and Solutions

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Image credit: Jay Parker

Customers changing their mind at the last second is a major problem for most online retailers. Conversion Voodoo indicates two ways of shopping cart abandonment: a customer either fills the shopping cart up but doesn’t enter the checkout or begins the checkout process but leaves the page without finishing it. Up to 75% of prospective transactions end in shopping cart abandonment depending on each particular online store, but the overall average which the Baymard Institute estimated using data from 22 different studies is 67.44%. It means that most online stores lose more than two thirds of potential sales, and it usually doesn’t depend on the quality of their merchandise. There are multiple reasons for shopping cart abandonment, and they are generally different depending on the phase of the shopping process in which the customer is at the time.

No intention to buy.

According to a consumer survey by Statista, the main reason for dropping the cart before starting the checkout process is the customer just browsing without an intention to buy (37% of respondents). In fact, SeeWhy found out that 99% of customers don’t plan to purchase anything on their first visit, yet 75% of them abandon their cart with intent to return later.

The solution. Conversion Voodoo recommends extending the cart life so customers would have plenty of time to think about the purchase. In addition to that, sending follow up emails (as long as the customer has already registered) might also be a good idea, as people tend to forget their online shopping endeavors. If the customer was planning to buy, they won’t consider a friendly reminder as spam, and if they weren’t… well, it seems you’ve lost them anyway.

Website problems.

Two other cart abandonment reasons indicated by Statista include finding a better price elsewhere (36%) or the overall price being too expensive (32%). It’s pretty clear here: if you can’t lower your prices, you can’t appeal to these particular customers. But there are multiple reasons for dropping the cart that have something to do with your website, including the navigation being too complicated (25%), the website crashing (24%) or timing out (15%), the shopping process taking too long (21%), or the price being presented in a foreign currency (13%).

The solution. The website crashing or timing out is quite simple to take care of: if it happens frequently, you should really think about picking a more reliable hosting provider. For the reasons regarding the checkout process and general usability, Groove Commerce recommends A/B testing of different approaches and applying the option which performed better. Whatever you do, taking the simplest, least demanding path for your customers seems to be the better idea most of the time.

Unexpected costs.

A whopping 56% of Statista’s respondents pointed out unexpected costs at the checkout as the reason for abandoning their shopping carts. Most of these costs are formed by the price of delivery: 55% of carts are dropped because of the shipping fee according to Conversion Voodoo. In fact, with options such as Amazon Prime available for everyday use, most customers expect free shipping on any online store nowadays (we wrote about this earlier on Kabbage), so a delivery fee making up half of their purchase appearing at the last second has a very, very negative impact for all shoppers.

The solution. Whenever it’s possible, you should offer free shipping to your customers. If you can’t do that, at least set a flat rate or certain thresholds to qualify for free delivery (it can even increase your average order value). The most important part here is displaying all the shipping costs for every item clearly on your website: note the unexpected part in unexpected costs.

Security issues.

17% of consumers surveyed by Statista indicated concerns about payment safety as the reason for cart abandonment. On the other hand, 18% of them pointed out excessive payment security checks as well. According to Conversion Voodoo, 35% of online stores don’t display any security information throughout the checkout process, raising some legitimate concerns for their customers.

The solution. The only way to appeal to both the 17% and the 18% here seems to be treading the middle ground, ensuring customers about the safety of your store yet making purchase as simple as possible at the same time. Clearly displayed security logos on checkout should appeal to some concerned customers, but adding a testimonials section and an easy-to-find customer support link can help even more. Satisfaction guarantee badges recommended by Conversion Voodoo could certainly increase the trust of certain groups of customers, but it can result in the more experienced online shoppers getting suspicious as well.

Overall, although customers dropping their carts in the middle of the shopping process is a worrying issue for most online businesses, one of the main reasons for that is simple: most consumers are not willing to buy at their first visit. That’s why the cart abandonment rate can hardly ever be lower than around 50%. For returning visitors though, you have to ensure that the whole course of shopping is as enjoyable, clear, and brief as possible. If you do that, you should expect the cart abandonment rate decreasing in no time.