Shopping Cart Abandonment: Reasons, Effects, & What You Can do to Prevent It

Shopping online is not so different from shopping in a store. As customers, we all have certain expectations and bullet-points we need to have met, as well as encountering millions of other distractions throughout our shopping journey that may interact with our final decision-making process. Be it online or offline; you may have already filled out your shopping cart when you suddenly come across a Google ads that steals your attention or a playful kitten distracting you from your shopping spree.

In the world of e-commerce, despite best-laid plans, users can close the tab on your site to pursue some other online activity, leaving you with a phenomenon we call shopping cart abandonment. Though shopping cart abandonment rates are a hard dose of reality that is almost impossible to avoid, it is still possible to improve your e-commerce user experience. It combats shopping cart abandonment issues while also decreasing shopping cart abandonment rates. So what is shopping cart abandonment? Why is it a crucial part of the shopping experience for online businesses? As a business owner, what can you do to minimize the shopping cart abandonment effects that come after each time a customer clicks on the X button? Here is everything you need to know about shopping cart abandonment and more.

What is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

So what is shopping cart abandonment in short? This term is commonly used to define some of the primary metrics your website's analytics holds, the most well-known ones being bounce rate, average time spent on-site, and the number of sessions. Shopping cart abandonment occurs when a potential user begins his checkout process to complete an online order, only to drop out before completing the process and making the payment. An item placed in the shopping cart but is never put through a transaction is considered an abandoned item by the customer. One of the most important aspects of online shopping, shopping cart abandonment, is that retailers have to pay very close attention to minimize its effects on the brand image and, inevitably, on revenue.

Another term you might often encounter is the "shopping cart abandonment rate," which is an essential metric for your e-commerce site, with high shopping cart abandonment rates leading to a compromised sales funnel and poor UX. Online businesses must manage their digital shopping cart abandonment rates to achieve more sales and revenue, making the optimization of the checkout flow a fundamental element of focus in online retail.

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Shopping Cart Abandonment Statistics You Haven't Heard of

While some of these shopping cart abandonment statistics may come as a surprise, this does not change the fact that no matter how big or small your business is, shopping car abandonment is bound to happen, and it will cost you quite a lot of money. Here are some of the recent shopping cart abandonment stats

that may help you come to terms with the seriousness of the issue:

  • The average shopping car abandonment rate is 80%, with only 20 of the customers finishing their checkout of the 100 that have put a product into their cart.
  • It means that businesses lose $400 on average per every $100 revenue.
  • Shopping cart abandonment is a trillion-dollar market, with sectors losing trillions of dollars each year due to customers leaving items in their baskets unpurchased.
  • While over 12 million e-commerce stores are on the internet - and counting - only 650,000 of these sites are selling more than $1,000 per year.
  • Shopping cart abandonment goes cold after approximately 60 minutes, making it essential for businesses to send cart abandonment e-mails to their customers as soon as possible.
  • Speaking of which, cart abandonment e-mails are the most top-performing promotional e-mails on the planet, with a whopping 54% open rate and a 19% click-through rate.

Why Is Shopping Cart Abandonment a Problem?

It is safe to say that your customers do not always browse on your website with the intent to buy. They want to see what kind of new products have arrived and what the latest trends are. Therefore, sometimes adding a specific item into their cart is considered the easiest way to bookmark it while still in searching mode, especially if your website does not have an "Add to Favorites" option. With the astonishing shopping cart abandonment rates and statistics above, dealing with shopping cart abandonment problems evolves into a significant task for online business owners.

How to Calculate Your Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate?

Calculating your shopping cart abandonment rate is relatively easy and understandable. All you need to do is divide the total number of completed transactions by the total amount of transactions not initiated. The result, therefore, identifies what percentage of your users signal purchase intent yet do not go through with the purchase. Calculating your shopping cart abandonment online entails you to;

  • Calculate the total number of transactions initiated
  • Calculate the total number of transactions completed
  • Divide the initiated transactions by the completed transactions and achieve the result

Although this is very common with multiple offline shopping stores, having a high digital shopping cart abandonment rate represents a poor user experience, requiring serious solutions to lower the percentage of shopping cart abandonment to maximize sales. It is an essential step for your business to focus on correlating with your users' conversion rates.

What are the Top Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Some of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment can be listed as follows:

Your customers are required to create an account before completing a purchase.

Nothing is more aggravating than having to face a "Create Account" page when you eagerly want to place an order and purchase the product you had been eyeing for days. However, some online sellers still make it mandatory for users to register before proceeding with the purchase. Customers who are uncomfortable providing personal information tend to opt-out, while others find it cumbersome filling out long forms to complete a single transaction.

You have a long and, at times, confusing checkout process.

Users nowadays are looking for a simplistic, short, and concise checkout process that requires minimal clicks and page navigations. The buyer's journey is becoming more and more exploring and self-directed. Customers can sense each obstacle to proceed further and detect confusing checkout processes, therefore abandoning the order in the glimpse of an eye.

Your shopping cart abandonment is rising due to high shipping fees.

Showing your high shipping costs at the checkout page is not something your customers would like to come across after deciding to purchase a particular product. Suppose your user is not intended to make bulk product transactions or buy multiple products in a single cart. In that case, these high fees will come quite expensive for them, leading to understandable shopping cart abandonment. In addition, high shipping costs may also not be acceptable for customers today if the items are not planned on being shipped within a few days.

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Your pricing is not as good as your competitors.

Sometimes, the users choose to abandon their carts to pursue a rival website that offers a more affordable product option. In today's online shopping world, customers are highly search-driven and choose to browse through various sites to compare prices and find the best offer. If your product is more expensive than your competitors' and you offer nothing extra to withstand the gap, then your user has no other choice but to abandon your cart and go with the alternative.

You offer aggressive upselling on your checkout page.

While upselling is a common marketing strategy used by many e-commerce sites during the checkout process, keeping it aggressive and intrusive can be distractive and at times damaging for your customer who at that point wants to focus on solely purchasing the product in his basket. Pop-up ads and cross-selling offers may interrupt the customer, leading to them jumping to other sites for a quicker shopping experience.

Your site is responding slowly or collapses during the transaction.

While a customer is browsing through various e-commerce sites and online products, the sites may tend to slow down and, in some cases, even collapse, hindering the user journey. Due to the poor performance of servers and hosts, these technical difficulties may lead to poor customer service, chasing customers away faster to hassle-free shopping sites.

The customer is in doubt of your payment security options.

Online customers often feel their personal information is at risk; therefore, they are not comfortable sharing their sensitive details such as credit card numbers and addresses. While most of the users have payment security doubts which result in leaving the transaction, only a few will agree to provide payment information and carry on to the next stage of conducting a payment online.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Effects You Need to Be Aware of

Now's the time to take a closer look at the effects of shopping cart abandonment and ways to take guard to minimize the adverse shopping cart abandonment effects on your business.

  • Reduced conversion rates: Spikes in shopping cart abandonment rates may cause online businesses to believe that the current marketing and pricing strategies are not doing so well, leading them to make higher investments in the capital to boost their overall CR.
  • Product unavailability: Bots load up shopping carts with demanding products at the beginning of the sale during periods of discounts and special offers. Therefore, this creates an artificial reduction in inventory levels, making the said items unavailable for actual users.
  • Loss in revenue: When bots continue to load up shopping carts with desired products, buyers will not be able to purchase them, in which case the ratio between the CR and the cost of acquiring new customers will come across a skewed ratio.
  • Negative user experience: There is no need to state that one of the negative effects of shopping cart abandonment is poor user experience, which ultimately slows down the site, frustrates users, and forces them to proceed to a competitor.
  • Waste of your time & effort: High shopping cart abandonment rates may lead to the need for your IT team to put in a lot of effort and time to solve these problems.

How to Reduce Cart Abandonment

Now that you have found out your potential customers abandon their baskets for various reasons, it is time to address those issues and develop shopping cart abandonment solutions that will help you reduce your CAR.

Use exit-intended pop-ups.

When looking for ways on how to reduce shopping cart abandonment, one of the best options to pursue is to use exit-intent pop-ups on the checkout page. It helps grab your users' attention by offering them a promotional discount or a personalized coupon code when they decide to leave their carts. Providing exciting offers as these at indecisive moments may motivate them to give your site another try.

Come up with an easy checkout strategy.

Users abandon their shopping carts almost immediately when they feel like they are forced to spend too much time going through the checkout process. Make sure your navigation between the product and the shopping cart is as smooth as possible to avoid complications and help your customer reach the finale as soon as they can.

Offer multiple payment options.

Given that online payment is a highly controversial issue on its own, it is not surprising that customers choose to pay only when their preferred payment option is available. The more payment alternatives you offer, the less you are likely to come across the damaging effects shopping cart abandonment has on your revenue and sales.

Minimize your shipping costs.

The biggest reason for shopping cart abandonment is still high shipping charges, followed by broken coupon codes and taxes that come up out of nowhere at the checkout stage. By offering free shipping and no tax, you can avoid losing your customers and have them load up their cart to finalize their purchase.

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Erhan Musaoglu

Written by Erhan Musaoglu

Erhan Musaoglu is the CEO and Co-Founder of Logiwa.