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Costs calendar    Mar 29, 2022

Reasons for Cart Abandonment (+ tips on avoiding them)

Find out what stands behind the shopping carts' abandonments - how to prevent & recover them, and encourage buyers to finalize online transactions.

Let's face it: the shopping cart abandonment issue is a really common problem that affects everyone who sells online. If customers were to abandon their baskets in brick-and-mortar stores as often as they do virtually, it would probably be impossible to walk between the aisles with products in physical shops.

Are you curious about what this dependency results from and how to prevent it? If so, I invite you to my post on human factors, hidden fees, complex checkout, lack of multiply payment options, and high shipping costs. Read how to reduce shopping cart abandonment and meet customers' expectations on the checkout process.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate: how to count

The challenge of managing abandoned carts is one thing; but before we talk, about what affects it and how these problems can be prevented (and then solved), let's talk a bit about how much is too much - simply saying, how to count the so-called cart abandonment rate.

If you want to calculate it, just use the following formula:

Ecommerce fulfillment: formula for calculating the cart abadonment rate.

The scale of the abandoning shopping cart problem is not low. As shown by the data provided by Finances Online, the average cart abandonment rate in 2021 equaled 68.8%, which was 9% lower compared to the previous year. As you can see, the problem on a global scale is truly impressive.

Fun Fact: unsurprisingly, this indicator breaks the real record on Black Friday and Cyber Monday when website visitors add lots of stuff to their carts at multiple stores - and then compulsively compare prices with competitors' offers.

As it might be expected, a higher shopping cart abandonment rate is noticed also on mobile devices and tablets than on desktops.

Of course, the shopping cart abandonment itself does not mean the end of the world - we know some clever shopping cart abandonment solutions, which proves, that shopping cart recovery is doable. However, to regain them, you need to analyze the purchasing user behavior and take some steps on reducing shopping cart abandonment. So let's dwell on this topic for a moment and take a closer look at the entire issue.

Online shoppers vs. checkout page: the battle for simplicity, choice and deep knowledge of non-typical abandonment reasons

The motivations behind abandoning shopping carts are very different - and not always rational. Most of the reasons for abandoning shopping carts can be divided into 4 categories:

  • rational motivations - situations in which the people shopping online wanted to buy a product, but encountered obstacles during the customer journey that prevented them from doing so (for example, they cannot choose a preferred method of payment); in fact, these are the only circumstances where you lose revenue because of your fault. I will talk more about how to deal with such situations in the following paragraphs;
  • organizational motivations - case in which the buyer creates a specific "wish list" of products that he would like to potentially buy in the future. Thanks to the filled basket (but without the finalized transaction), the customer will be able to return the desired products in the future. A good idea to deal with such situations is to allow customers to create such lists of favorite products in a place other than the shopping cart;
  • financial motivations - sometimes buyers do not have enough money to allow them to carry out their purchases at a regular price. So they add the selected products to the cart and at this stage, they check possible solutions to resolve the situation: look for available coupon code, sales, count on free shipping, etc. It is a good idea to offer them at least free shipping at the level of the shopping cart or to offer a small discount code in the case of recovering customers with abandoned baskets (e.g. send in the form of a personalized e-mail to remind customers about unfinished purchase);
  • hedonistic motivations - users sometimes do so-called "window shopping" on the web. They browse the ecommerce store and add products to the shopping cart because they are simply bored or because they just like such an activity. Adding products to the cart evokes positive emotions in them and helps reduce stress levels. However, their intention is not (and has never been) to complete the transaction.

Complicated Checkout Process, Hidden Fees, and Company

The data compiled by Baymard shows inexorable facts: 58.6% of US e-buyers have abandoned a cart within the last 3 months because, quote, "they were just browsing".

The remaining most frequently mentioned reasons, however, are on the side of the online retailer, which is clearly shown in the chart below:


Third party logistics: reasons for cart abandonment, source: Baymard.

(Hidden) costs

Kind of Captain Obvious for the Rescue tip: shoppers abandon their baskets when they see how much their entire order costs - and I'm not just talking about the price of the products (which can make you dizzy after "careless" adding items without counting the final total cost), but so too... "hidden" costs related to shipping, taxes, fees, etc. Hidden is not the best suitable word after all, even though it is often used in this context - customers have more and more expectations regarding their service and treat these situations more in the context of unexpected shipping costs (most stores cover them "out of their pocket").

As an online store, do not hide the financial issue, on the contrary: communicate clearly and transparently about what customers will have to pay for. Such an approach will ensure that customers will not be surprised at the moment of finalizing the transaction; the likelihood of abandoning the basket will decrease significantly.

And one more thing - if you can, take care of shipping costs yourself- and offer them for free (for any product or, for example, for orders over a certain amount). As we wrote in other posts, the number of customers for whom this option is a key factor when finalizing their purchases is growing year by year.

Multiple payment options

We have already mentioned many times on our blog that the key to winning loyal customers (who finish the online purchase) is to give them as wide a choice as possible. This rule applies also to the choice of most popular payment methods: transfer and payment by card are unfortunately not enough nowadays, and the lack of implementation of other alternatives is sometimes a reason for abandoning a filled-to-the-brim shopping cart.

Allow customers to pay with pay-by-link, using BLIK, apple pay, digital wallets, etc. Remind them about the discounts or coupon codes that people buying online can take advantage of and make sure that the place to write them down them is well visible.

UX and problems with checkout flow

Poorly designed user experience (UX) is always problematic. Too long forms, many steps in the final checkout process, enriched with additional technical problems (e.g. long page loading time and site speed generally) is a ready recipe for losing patience, and in consequence - abandoning the basket. Many online shoppers choose this type of purchase because of its' simplicity, time-saving, and intuitiveness - and the above-mentioned issues for cart abandonment are the opposite of those reasons.

Also, remember that many buyers do not want to create an account - especially if they plan to make a one-off purchase. Online retailers should meet their expectations and allow them to buy via guest checkout.

Moreover, more and more Internet users are conscious consumers, also in technical terms of online shopping - so they sometimes give up purchasing for seemingly less important reasons, such as the lack of an SSL certificate.

Lack of purchase desire

If someone does not complete the shopping cart with an intention to buy, the situation may seem like a losing game. However, you can try to persuade cart abandoners to complete the purchase by highlighting the best products from the offer, bestsellers, or showing the social proof ("other customers also bought ...", "x people viewed the product in the last 3 hours ...").

Highlight related products, try to cross-sell and when it does not keep the customer's interest - use an "exit offer" in the form of a catchy message (eg. about a small discount) popping up when the potential customers leave the site (so-called exit intent overlay message) - and keep your fingers crossed so they will complete the purchase. Generally, when it comes to finalizing the purchase immediately - all tricks are allowed. It is always better to act like this than to try to reduce cart abandonment in the future.

Summing Up...

Taking extra care of an online shopping cart can be a slightly time-consuming challenge at times - but it is undoubtedly worth the effort. If you step into your customers' shoes and improve the design and UX of your checkout page, your online store will pay back with your better financial results. Offer free shipping and enough payment methods. Keep clients away from unexpected costs. Answer customer questions and work on better checkout flow. Observe lower cart abandonment rates and more completed transactions instead of lost revenue.

A well-optimized ecommerce site means less lost sales, cart abandonments, lost revenues, and a higher conversion rate. Remember: the less complicated transactions, the better checkout design, the more catchy exit intent overlays and meeting customers halfway (e.g. thanks to free shipping) - all the more completed purchases and less number of abandoned shopping carts.

Abandoned cart recovery is possible to to get achieved by most ecommerce brands, but prevention is always better than cure.

Head of Marketing at Linker Cloud who gained experience in the insurance and tech industry. She also has a marketing agency perspective.

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