causes for shopping cart abandonment

You do everything that you’re supposed to do – design a beautiful ecommerce website on a platform such as Shopify, display attractive photos, and write creative product descriptions. You spend time and money on advertising and digital marketing to bring customers to your site. And they come! They browse and add items in their shopping cart. Then, sadly, they abandon their shopping cart and leave your site.

You’ve just been a victim of shopping cart abandonment.

Why do shoppers do this? Well, there are quite a few causes of shopping cart abandonment and it’s one of the biggest problems ecommerce businesses face. In a study by Baymard Institute, it was discovered that, on average, online retailers have a 70% abandoned shopping cart rate. Imagine if you were able to eliminate cart abandonment on your site, sales could increase by two-thirds!

There are a few strategies you can try to help fight shopping cart abandonment. Here’s is a list of the most common reasons customers leave without buying and what you can do to combat them:


Shopping cart abandonment infographic

Extra costs are too high

This was the most-cited reason for cart abandonment on the Baymard study – landing at a whopping 53%. Customers don’t want to pay extra for things like shipping, handling, and even taxes. They have the luxury of shopping around online to find the best price.

Even if your item has a lower price than others, if the additional charges cut into customers’ savings, they’ll likely look elsewhere to buy.

Fix: List any extra fee information on the product page and add a widget that calculates exact shipping cost to the customer’s location. That way shoppers know exactly how much their total cost will be before adding the product to their cart. Another fix for this issue is to encourage customers to complete the checkout process by offering free shipping when they purchase over a certain dollar amount.


Forced to register

There are still a lot of websites out there that require you to register or create an account in order to make a purchase. Some customers don’t like this, and they’ll leave your site to find one that doesn’t require registration. In fact, it’s the second most-cited reason for leaving at 31%.

Fix: Offer customers a guest checkout option to overcome this deterrent. You can always make creating an account or registering an option after checkout.


Complicated checkout

Next on the list of reasons to abandon your shopping cart at 23% is when the checkout process is too long or complicated. The checkout process needs to be streamlined, easy to navigate and quick. If you require the buyer to complete too many forms or there are too many screens to move through, the customer may get impatient and leave.

Fix: Test different checkout procedures. Some studies show that using a single page checkout process is more effective. However, others have shown that multi-page checkouts work better. See what works for you. If you do use a multi-page checkout, be sure to include a progress bar to show the customer where they are in the process. Also, include various mobile payment options for those customers shopping on smartphones and tablets.


Lack of trust for the website

There are many people who don’t feel comfortable entering their credit card information online. As a result, 17% online shoppers will abandon their shopping carts I f they don’t trust your site. They have to feel very comfortable. If you fail to keep your site’s SSL certificates up to date, don’t have trust logos on your site, or don’t offer recognized payment providers (like PayPal), you may lose customers who are concerned about internet safety.

Fix: In addition to valid SSL certificates, posting trust logos, and offering payment providers that are well-known, try getting verified by services like the Better Business Bureau to make your customers feel secure.


Website technical issues

Your shopping cart abandonment may have nothing to do with your products or prices, but instead your website.  Customers are likely to get frustrated and impatient when websites crash or move too slowly. Ecommerce is about convenience. It’s not convenient at all to sit on a slow loading website, which is why 15% of Baymard’s respondents cited a website with technical issues as a reason for abandoning their carts.

Fix: Often times, you get what you pay for. Be sure that you are hosting your website on a reputable server that can handle varying amounts of traffic. The extra expense may be offset by added sales as a result.


Return policy isn’t satisfactory

If return policies are unsatisfactory, customers may not want to take a chance buying products that they can’t inspect, try on, or touch. One out of ten customers reported unsatisfactory return policies as their major reason for leaving items in a shopping cart.

Fix: The solution for this is to offer a generous and simple return policy. Be sure that you post the return policy somewhere on your checkout page. If customers must click away from checkout to search for the policy, they may not go back.

If you’re worried about the high rate of shopping cart abandonment for your site, try some of the techniques on the above list to see if your abandoned cart rate goes down and conversions increase. It may not be just one, but a combination of a few of them. Keep testing and you’ll improve!

Do you think you have an issue with one of the causes of shopping cart abandonment listed above? Did we miss one that affected you? Let us know your experience in the comments.


Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published July 2016 and was updated in February 2020 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.


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