8 Key Ways to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

8 Key Ways to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

Digital advertising spending already tops $100 billion per year in the United States, and the figure is only expected to grow. Despite their enormous efforts and deep pockets, digital marketers only see a conversion rate of about 2.86%. Even more troubling for eCommerce websites is the daily reality of dealing with abandoned online shopping carts. This issue, in particular, has grown over the years, and the online retail business is understandably looking for ways to reduce the number of cart abandonment that they deal with.

What is Cart Abandonment? 

Cart abandonment is a term used to describe the situation where a shopper adds items to their online shopping cart but doesn't complete the purchase. This can happen for various reasons, such as unexpected shipping costs, complex checkout processes, or simply a change of mind. It's a common problem for e-commerce businesses and can lead to lost sales and revenue. By understanding why customers abandon their carts and implementing strategies to address those issues, businesses can reduce cart abandonment and improve their conversion rates.

Why Is Shopping Cart Abandonment a Problem for Retailers?

Lost Revenue

Shopping cart abandonment directly translates into lost sales opportunities. Each abandoned cart is a potential purchase that didn't complete, meaning the retailer misses out on revenue.

Wasted Marketing Efforts

Resources spent on attracting customers through various marketing channels are not fully capitalized if those customers do not complete their purchases.

Lower Conversion Rates

High rates of cart abandonment negatively affect the overall conversion rate, which is a key metric for evaluating the effectiveness of an e-commerce website.

Increased Customer Acquisition Costs

When customers abandon their carts, the cost of acquiring new customers rises because the investment to bring them to the site does not yield the expected sales.

Missed Customer Insights

Abandoned carts could provide valuable insights into customer preferences and potential pain points within the purchasing process. Not addressing these can lead to repeated abandonment.

Inventory Mismanagement

Abandoned carts can complicate inventory planning and management, as predicting actual sales becomes more challenging when a significant number of carts are abandoned.

Negative Impact on Customer Experience

If the abandonment is due to negative shopping experiences, such as a complex checkout process or technical issues, it could harm the retailer’s reputation and deter future business.

Most Common Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is a common challenge for e-commerce businesses. Here are some of the most common reasons why shoppers might abandon their carts:

High Extra Costs

Unexpected charges such as shipping, tax, or handling fees can often deter customers from completing their purchases.

Required Account Creation

Mandatory registration can disrupt the checkout flow and discourage users who prefer a quick, anonymous purchase.

Complex Checkout Process

A lengthy or confusing checkout process can frustrate customers, leading them to abandon their carts.

Inadequate Payment Options

Limited payment methods can turn away customers who do not find their preferred way to pay.

Technical Issues

Glitches or crashes during checkout can prevent customers from completing their purchases.

Long Delivery Times

If the shipping time is too long, customers might decide to look elsewhere for faster options.

Lack of Trust

Customers might abandon their carts if they do not trust the site with their personal or payment information.

Insufficient Return Policy

An unclear or strict return policy can make customers hesitant to commit to a purchase.

Price Comparison

Customers may leave items in their cart as they continue to shop around and compare prices on other sites.

Lack of Sufficient Product Information

If customers feel that product descriptions, images, or reviews are inadequate, they may feel unsure about purchasing.

Key Ways to Reduce Cart Abandonment

  1. Eliminate Shipping Costs or Make Them Very Clear
  2. Simplify the Payments Process
  3. Provide Flexibility on Quantity Limits When Possible 
  4. Create a Progress Indicator
  5. Include a Call to Action on the Checkout Screens
  6. Guest Checkout Should be a Priority
  7. Money-Back Guarantees Increase Customer Trust
  8. Work on Page Loading Rates

Eliminate Shipping Costs or Make Them Very Clear

Customers frequently complain about unexpected shipping costs. These costs may deter would-be customers from continuing to conduct their business with a specific company. Many customers get as far as entering the information for shipping when they realize that there are extra costs that they were not anticipating. When they see those, they freeze. They don't necessarily want to spend any money at all on shipping costs, and they may abandon their cart right then and there. 

Online store owners are faced with a predicament when they get to this point. They incur shipping costs when they send items out to their customers, and the best way to recoup those costs is to charge customers for them. However, many customers will abandon their carts if they are faced with a shipping charge. What is a business owner to do? 

One option is to simply eat the cost and eliminate the shipping charges for customers. This will have an impact on your profit margins, though, and it may be unsustainable. Alternatively, you may decide to raise the sale price of your items to equivalent to what a customer would pay for the item plus shipping. Although the higher price tag may deter some customers, the elimination of shipping costs may help lower your cart abandonment rate. It is up to you to determine what the proper balance between these two goals is for your company. 

The other thing that you can do to try to keep customers from leaving their carts is to make the shipping costs incredibly clear upfront. There is a risk that this will put off certain customers from the start, but those who truly want the product will be willing to pay the shipping costs to get what they need. 

Simplify the Payments Process

Some customers remain understandably concerned about the payments process when they are dealing with shopping apps that they have never transacted with before. A rash of data leak stories in the news doesn't do anything to help consumer confidence during these times

You need to look at your payment process to ensure that it is both safe and welcoming to new customers. They need to feel confident when they do business with you that their payment information will be kept secure and that they will have as many options for payment as possible. The more flexible that you are in terms of options offered to them, the more likely they are to move forward with a completed transaction. 

Payment options that are accepted across many online stores today include: 

  • Debit/credit cards
  • Venmo
  • PayPal
  • Zelle

Some stores are taking things a step further and allowing for transactions in cryptocurrencies to take place. Some customers appreciate this because it gives them yet another option for completing their transactions. However, you must consider if you want to take on the risk of accepting cryptocurrency payments. There is a lot of volatility in the cryptocurrency market, and many are understandably wary of accepting these currencies as a form of payment, given their debatable value. 

Add to card

Provide Flexibility on Quantity Limits When Possible 

There are situations that may arise when it is necessary to limit the quantity of a particular product that a consumer may purchase. This may be because there is only a limited quantity of the given product on hand or for any other reason. That said, the customer needs to be informed of these limitations upfront. A customer that is unaware of a quantity limit on a product that they wish to purchase may proceed to attempt to purchase that product only to find out that they literally cannot do so. In that scenario, they cannot purchase the quantity of an item that they desire thus resulting in cart abandonment. 

Whenever possible, try to provide flexibility on quantity limitations. It may not always be possible to source enough products to meet every customer's needs, but you should attempt to lift any artificial limitations on product order quantities when you can. There is no reason to limit your customers when they are trying to buy goods from you that you have on hand and available to send to them. 

Create a Progress Indicator

It is surprisingly enjoyable to see exactly where you are in the checkout process when purchasing goods from an online company. As funny as that may sound, it's true! A progress indicator lets a customer know how far along they are in the process and what they might expect to happen with each future step. 

Your progress indicator might look something like this: 

  • Shipping Information
      This is the first step of the process where the customer is required to enter the address that they would like their order shipped to. This stage does require some work from the customer, but it is absolutely necessary to ensure that their items get sent to the right place. 
  • Payment
    The payment page is where the form of payment is selected, and financial information is added. Many options should be provided to the customer on this page so that they know that they can pay via a number of different options available to them. 
  • Review and Finalize Order
    The last page gives the customer a chance to once again review their order and ensure that everything is set up exactly as they want it. It is also the big moment when they press the button to initiate the order. 

Although adding a progress bar like this is a little extra work for the coding team on your website, it is work that is worth doing. As WordStream explains, it can help ease some anxiety that your customers might otherwise have about how much longer they have to go before the order is placed: 

By clearly showing customers where they are in the checkout process, you're eliminating the potential worry that actually buying something from you is going to take more time than the prospect is willing to commit.

Eliminating some of the anxiety that your customers may experience as a result of their experience moving through the shopping cart process is a great way to improve your chances of holding on to them as customers in the long run. Say what you will, but it is a good feeling to know that you have done what you can to retain customers at that final point of contact between your company and them. 

Include a Call to Action on the Checkout Screens

You may be surprised to learn how many companies leave a call to action off of the checkout screens on their websites. Presumably, many of these companies assume that if a customer has taken the step to add an item to their cart, then they are already a converted customer. However, we know that is not the case. 

A call to action can remind a customer about the products that they have placed in their cart. Including a small image of the item or items that they have placed in their cart is a great way to keep them motivated as well. 

You want to push your customers in the right direction when it comes to completing their purchases. A small call to action on the checkout page can be a gentle reminder of how close they are to completing their transaction. A little nudge in the right direction like that is all that some customers need to complete their transactions and not result in cart abandonment. 

Guest Checkout Should be a Priority

Ideally, every customer that visits your website will sign up for an account. This allows you to learn more about them, and it likely increases their chances of returning to do business with you again. At the very least, it gives you access to them via their email, where you may send some marketing messages. However, it is a fact that not every customer will take this option when it is presented to them. Thus, you should consider adding a guest checkout option to at least claim the customers who visit but don't create an account. 

Forcing customers to create an account in order to finish out their transaction is yet another barrier that you put between yourself and your customer. You do NOT want to do this. Every barrier makes it that much easier for a potential customer to decide against completing their order with you. 

Money-Back Guarantees Increase Customer Trust

Customer confidence and satisfaction in retail apps can be increased greatly by offering a money-back guarantee. They will feel more confident that they are able to receive their money back if things don't work out with their purchase. Best of all, most customers won't actually make a money-back claim because they will be so pleased with your product when they receive it. In other words, the money-back guarantee serves the business far more than it serves the customers who receive it. 

Obviously, you will have to honor the money-back guarantee if there is ever a claim made by a customer on it, but you should simply budget and prepare for that possibility going forward. It is a worthwhile trade-off to increase your rate of sales completion. 

Online shopping cart

Work on Page Loading Rates

The rate at which your website pages load is incredibly important as far as how many people will stick around to see what you have to offer. If a page takes longer than two seconds to load, it is considered slow, and many people simply leave the website out of frustration. That is how impatient some people can get when it comes to page loading times. The percentage of people who leave without viewing anything more than your homepage is known as your bounce rate, and it will climb dramatically if you don't invest in page loading speeds. 

There are changes both large and small that you can make to improve your page loading speed. You should start with some of the low-hanging fruit, such as:

  • Optimizing images
  • Removing duplicate or unnecessary content
  • Eliminating all unnecessary pop-ups

After you have done those things, you can also work on the more technical aspects of your website that may be slowing it down. This will help you get the kind of performance that you need to help keep people around. 

For more information on how to reduce your cart abandonment rates, check out what Storyly can offer you in terms of tips and advice for creating the best online store possible.Digital advertising spending already tops $100 billion per year in the United States, and the figure is only expected to grow. Despite their enormous efforts and deep pockets, digital marketers only see a conversion rate of about 2.86%. Even more troubling for eCommerce websites is the daily reality of dealing with abandoned online shopping carts. This issue, in particular, has grown over the years, and the online retail business is understandably looking for ways to reduce the number of cart abandonment that they deal with. 

Conclusion: Tackling Cart Abandonment to Boost E-commerce Success

As digital advertising spending continues to soar, the pressure on e-commerce sites to convert browsing into actual sales has never been greater. Cart abandonment remains a significant hurdle, with a myriad of factors influencing a shopper's decision to leave without completing their purchase. Addressing this issue is not just about salvaging potential sales; it's about refining the entire shopping experience to align with consumer expectations and demands.

By implementing strategic measures such as simplifying the checkout process, being transparent about costs, offering diverse payment options, and enhancing website performance, retailers can significantly reduce the incidence of abandoned carts. Each step taken to minimize this challenge not only recovers lost revenue but also strengthens customer trust and loyalty, which are crucial for long-term success in the competitive online marketplace.

Embracing these changes requires a continuous effort to understand and respond to customer behavior and preferences. Tools and platforms like Storyly can provide the necessary insights and support to transform these challenges into opportunities, ensuring that your e-commerce site not only attracts visitors but also converts them into satisfied customers. Reducing cart abandonment is a crucial step toward achieving a higher conversion rate and maximizing the effectiveness of every dollar spent on digital marketing.


İrem Isık

İrem Işık is a Head of Marketing at Storyly. She holds a bachelor degree in business administration from the Middle East Technical University and MSc. degree in marketing & strategy from University of Warwick. As a former brand manager İrem knows/writes about marketing tech stack, brand management, marketing strategies, growth hacking.

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