Shopping Cart Abandonment: 11 Reasons Why It Happens and How to Fix Them


According to an analysis of 29 case studies conducted by the Baymard Institute, the average rate of shopping cart abandonment amongst major retailers is 68.07%. This means that over half of your visitors are not completing their purchases.

The reasons that people abandon their shopping carts vary. In this post, we will share 11 common reasons and how you can combat them on your website.

1. Lack of Product Details

People have learned to research their products online before they buy. As a matter of fact, 81% of shoppers do thorough research before making a purchase.

If your website doesn’t provide enough details about a product, shoppers will go elsewhere until they find those details. Depending on what you sell, details that your customers want include item specs, safety regulations, photos at all angles, instructional videos, and reviews.

To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, provide these details as much as possible. Research competitors that sell similar products to ensure that your website offers everything they do and more. Also offer an option to have a live chat with a customer service specialist – this will allow the person to get their questions answered and make the sale.

2. Comparison Shopping

People want the best deal possible, so they will likely take the time to do some comparison-shopping. Online shoppers in particular will open your website and your competitors, add all of their desired purchases in their shopping cart, and then compare the totals. If all they are looking at is price, then the least expensive cart wins the sale.

To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, offer more than just the products. Offer a guarantee. Offer customer support. Find out what your customer offers at that final stage in their shopping cart and make sure your offers are better.

3. Unexpected Costs

When people add an item to their shopping cart, they anticipate shipping costs within reason, but generally nothing more. If your shipping is above industry average or you add additional fees that don’t appear until after the checkout process has begun, then people will flee.

To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, you might want to consider absorbing the additional fees, especially if they are unnecessary and not what your competitors charge. It’s better to have a less competitive price on the item you are selling than to have an extremely low price that gets fee upon fee added to it during checkout.

4. No Current Coupon Codes

If you have a coupon or discount code box in your shopping cart, people might leave your website to look for discount codes. If they don’t find any, they may not return to complete their purchase because they feel a better deal would be available to them at a later time.

To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, you can offer a simple discount code that appears throughout the site for 10% off of their purchase or free shipping. You can also use an optimally timed message that offers a discount code to the shopper before they leave.

5. Complicated Registration Process

When you require people to register for an account with your website, you run the risk of losing them to an overly complicated process. Your customer might feel too many questions are being asked. They may have also registered for an account in the past but forgot their information, and then get frustrated by the “did you forget your password” options.

To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, you can offer customers the option to checkout as a guest or to create an account using their social login. The latter works well as most people will always have access to their Facebook account, at a bare minimum. As a bonus, you’ll be able to tap into lots of rich data from their social accounts.

6. Not Enough Shipping Options

Major online retailers like Amazon have changed expectations when it comes to delivery time with free two-day shipping and inexpensive next-day shipping options. When people get to checkout to find that their item won’t arrive for another week, they’ll likely look for faster options.

To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, you not only need to offer expedited shipping options, but also to offer less expensive ones. If similar products can be purchased through Amazon with free two-day shipping, customers of Amazon will choose them instead.

7. Not Enough Payment Options

Just because you are familiar with a particular payment processor doesn’t mean your customers will be. For example, look at PayPal. While millions of people trust PayPal, there are many that don’t. While they allow you to pay by credit card without creating an account, people still don’t want to use them.

To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, you need to offer more than one method of payment. Maybe choose a combination of PayPal plus a standard credit card processor. The more options people have, the more likely they are to make their purchase.

8. Security Concerns

For websites that process credit cards directly without going through PayPal or a similarly recognized service, security can be an issue. If you fail to keep your SSL certificates up to date and do not have industry-standard trust logos on your website, you might lose people because they do not feel your website is secure.

To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, consider getting verified by services that shoppers will recognize and trust. The Better Business Bureau is a name that most everyone will recognize, so their seal on your website would be ideal. Google also offers a Trusted Stores program that you can add to your site to make customers feel more secure.

9. Lack of Return Policy

Along with security, you need to help your customers feel confident about their purchase. If your customer has to leave the shopping cart to find your return policy, and then has trouble finding it, they may go to a competitor that they trust.

To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, include a quick mention of your return policy in the final steps of the shopping process. This mention will boost customers confidence. Include a link with additional details about your return policies that opens up in a popup as opposed to another page.

10. Website Wasn’t Mobile Friendly

Over half of your potential customers are shopping on their mobile devices. If your website – and especially your shopping cart – is not mobile optimized, then your customers could end up leaving because of usability issues.

To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, make sure that your shopping cart is mobile friendly. Test a full checkout process out on multiple devices if possible, such as an iPhone, Android phone, Kindle Fire, and Windows phone. If it passes the test on all of those devices, then it is likely going to work well for everyone.

11. Simply Not Ready to Buy

Some people may come to your website, peruse your products, add them to their shopping cart, but ultimately not be ready to make a purchase. If you have already tried to increase purchase motivation, add urgency to the purchase, and remove barriers from the checkout process, then the factors influencing the person’s decision to avoid checking out may be beyond your control.

While you can’t prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart if they are simply not ready to buy, you can try to convert them at a later time. There are two great strategies you can choose from.

First, you can set up automated shopping cart abandonment emails, where you remind registered customers about an item they added to their shopping cart. Second, you can use retargeting / remarketing advertising through Google and Facebook to remind your customer about items they looked at on your website.

By optimizing your shopping cart to combat the common reasons that customers abandon their items without making a purchase, you will increase conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

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