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February 07, 2022
Every day, nearly 70% of shoppers who place items in their shopping carts on your ecommerce site never complete the checkout. They get right to the end, but fail to pull the trigger.
This phenomenon is called shopping cart abandonment and it’s an enormous source of frustration for ecommerce store owners. In this article, we’re going to explain shopping cart abandonment and then teach you how to prevent and recover from it.
Shopping cart abandonment occurs when a potential customer adds items to their shopping cart but leaves the site before completing their purchase. It’s an unfortunate problem because it means the potential customer made it to the very last step, but some obstacle kept them from checking out. A high shopping cart abandonment rate means there is something wrong with your checkout experience.
According to 2019 research from Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%. That said, there is some variation depending on your industry, what you’re selling, and who you are selling to.
Calculating shopping cart abandonment is easy. Simply divide the total number of completed purchases by the number of created carts. Then, subtract from one and multiply by 100.
For example, let’s say you have 500 completed purchases and 700 created carts.
Shopping cart abandonment rate = [1 - (500/1700)] * 100 = 71%
While you’ll never be able to eliminate shopping cart abandonment entirely, you can take steps to reduce it. Remember, these are potential customers who are right at the end of your checkout experience, so you don’t want to ignore them. They often need just a little nudge to complete their purchase.
In order to address shopping cart abandonment, we need to understand why it happens. According to Baymard Institute, here are the top ten reasons people abandon their carts:
Let’s talk about some ways you can reduce shopping cart abandonment. These tips will help you get more customers through checkout.
Unexpected costs are the top reason people abandon their carts. They aren’t opposed to the costs, they just don’t want to be surprised by them. Fortunately, you can fix this by making your prices transparent early in their shopping experience. Be upfront about shipping costs, taxes, and any other fees.
If potential customers have last minute questions, you want to be available to solve their problems before they decide to leave. Live chat can be a lifesaver in these situations. Most live chat services offer mobile apps so you’re always available to respond to customers.
Shoppers want to know that you behave securely with the sensitive information they give you, such as their payment details and shipping address. You can reassure your customers and build their confidence by placing trust signals throughout your site.
Trust signals include logos of your payment processor, reviews, ratings, testimonials, guarantee symbols, policy information, and more. Read more in our full guide on trust signals.
While there are some advantages to requiring customers to create an account, it's more often an unnecessary barrier, especially for first-time shoppers who don't plan to purchase from your store again. So you will want to enable guest checkout on your site and make sure to include their purchase details and tracking link in their confirmation email.
Shoppers want to complete their purchase using their preferred payment methods, which are typically the ones they find safe and convenient. Apart from credit/debit card transactions, customers may want to use direct bank transfers, digital wallets (like Apple Pay and Google Pay), and even cryptocurrency.
For high value purchases, you might want to consider giving your customers financing options. In order to offer that, just enable Shop Pay in your Shopify admin.
Customers often check return and refund policies just before they make a purchase. If your return policy is complex or unfavorable, there’s a good chance they will abandon the purchase. Confusing policies are especially problematic because they make customers fear that you’re taking advantage of them.
Furthermore, make your policy available on your cart pages, perhaps with a button that triggers a popup. This will keep them informed without forcing them to leave.
If certain pages or features in your checkout process are broken, of course customers won’t complete their purchases. They literally can’t! You need to hunt down and fix these errors immediately.
Delivery times have decreased substantially over the last five years. Domestic customers expect to receive their orders in just a few days, but no more than a week, especially when Amazon is always a fast option. If you take weeks to deliver products, customers will find another store, so you need to find ways to boost your fulfillment and delivery times.
Just because a customer abandons their cart doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost the sale for good. There’s still a chance to recover it. There are two main strategies for cart recovery.
An abandoned cart email is when you send the potential customer an email reminding them that they left an item (or multiple items) in their cart. In order for this to work, the potential customer must be logged into their account or have entered their email address at some point.
A cart abandonment sequence usually consists of one to three emails that notify the shopper of their full shopping cart. The first email should come quickly, at least within the hour. Simply remind the customer of their cart. Include a picture of the product(s) and a single call-to-action.
The second email should come a day later. Lean on the pressure by including social proof, benefits, and some kind of risk guarantee (like “you can always return in 30 days”).
The third email should arrive three to five days later. At this point, you’ve nearly lost the customer, so it’s time to hit them with a last-ditch offer. Give them 10% to 20% off if they complete the purchase.
Abandoned cart retargeting is when you place an ad pixel on your checkout page and then remarket to those users on ad platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. The ad would show an image of the item they failed to purchase with a link back to the checkout page.
The advantage here is that you don’t need their email address. However, they must use or visit one of the ad platforms where you purchased ads. If you buy ads on Facebook, only Facebook users will see them.
While you will never completely eliminate your shopping cart abandonment rate, it’s important to take steps to minimize it by making smart changes to your site to reduce the frequency and actively recover those customers. Notice that all of these changes are “one-and-done.” Once you put them in place, they will support your conversion rate indefinitely.