Shopping Cart Abandonment: How to Reduce Cart Abandonment with 4 Best Practices

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If you’re an online retailer, chances are you’ve struggled with shopping cart abandonment: the phenomenon of shoppers adding items to their carts, then leaving your site before completing checkout. Cart abandonment is an issue faced by ecommerce businesses of all sizes, and while it may seem like an uphill battle, there are steps you can take to increase conversions.

Understanding shopping cart abandonment and why your customers abandon their carts can improve the shopping experience and turn more browsers into buyers.

What is shopping cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is an ecommerce term used to describe visitors adding items to an online shopping cart but exiting the website without completing the purchase. Shoppers abandon carts for various reasons, including hidden fees, complicated checkout processes, and high shipping costs.

How is cart abandonment rate calculated?

The shopping cart abandonment rate for any given online store can be calculated with this formula:

Cart abandonment = 1 – (Total number of shoppers who complete transactions  / Total number of shoppers who add items to cart)

Cart abandonment statistics you should know

Any ecommerce merchant will experience cart abandonment as a significant pain point — but it’s still easy to underestimate how much of a real impact it can have:

  • $4.6 trillion in ecommerce sales are lost to cart abandonment each year.
  • Clothes are the most commonly abandoned product category, followed by tech and housewares.
  • 41% of shoppers have abandoned a transaction during checkout in the past year, compared to 24% who have walked away from a purchase in a physical store.

But it’s not all gloom and doom when it comes to cart abandonment. There’s room — and actionable advice — for improvement:

What is the average cart abandonment rate?

Across industries, the average cart abandonment rate is 75.6%.

Imagine that 100 customers come into your store, fill up their shopping carts, and bring their full carts up to the cash register. Now, imagine 76 of those 100 customers leave your store — and their full carts — behind without purchasing.

This may sound far-fetched, but in ecommerce, this happens every day. That’s the ugly truth about shopping cart abandonment. And it’s even uglier when you consider that mobile drives 60% of ecommerce traffic but has an above-average abandonment rate at 81%.

Why do customers abandon carts?

There are several reasons that customers might bounce before buying. Here are five common causes of cart abandonment.

1. Security concerns

According to the Baymard Institute report on checkout usability, 17% of online shoppers in the US have abandoned an order due to security concerns. If your website doesn’t inspire confidence, especially on your checkout page, you could be missing out on revenue from one in every five customers.

If your customers don’t trust you, they won’t give you their contact or credit card information. It’s that simple.

2. Complex checkout

Baymard also reports that 18% of shoppers have abandoned online carts due to too long or complicated checkout processes. Buying from your website should be an easy, enjoyable shopping experience for customers, while unnecessarily complex checkout flow can can frustrate and lead to negative customer experience and checkout abandonment.

3. Required registration

Your checkout should not only be easy to complete but quick to navigate, too. If you require every new shopper to create an account before completing checkout for the first time, you’re adding an obstacle to purchase and likely to see a significant drop-off.

4. Hidden costs and fees

The most common reason for cart abandonment? Costs and fees are too high. These can include delivery fees, taxes and upcharges. And 49% of abandoned carts come from customers being surprised by a total order cost they could not calculate upfront.

5. High shipping costs

A Forrester study shows that 44% of online shoppers who abandon their carts do so because of shipping and handling costs. And with Amazon, Walmart, Target, and other big-box ecommerce companies offering two-day shipping and free shipping options, customers expect both fast and affordable shipping at the click of a button. Not offering this will hurt your conversion rates and lead to lost sales.

How to stop cart abandonment: 4 tactics for cart recovery

The obstacles above could be costing you sales and customers — here’s how to fix them to reduce dropoff and increase conversions.

1. Simplify your checkout

The average checkout contains about 15 form fields, twice as many as necessary to gather the customer info to process and ship an order. The fewer steps in your checkout process, the more likely a potential customer will complete a purchase. Here are some tips for making your checkout form simpler to reduce shopping cart abandonment:

  • Offer a “Checkout as Guest” option. This guest checkout option allows new customers the option to save time by not having to create an account.
  • Remove optional fields. Even optional fields add friction by requiring additional decision making on the part of your customers. If you’d mark it as optional, it’s best to leave it out entirely.
  • Use one “Full Name” field rather than a “First Name” and “Last Name” field.
  • Allow customers to set their billing address equal to their shipping address. When they do so, hide the billing address fields instead of auto-filling them. This will result in a shorter page and less scrolling.

2. Showcase security

Using “trust signals” to show that your website and checkout are safe can help boost customer confidence and conversions. Presenting recognizable security badges from tools your ecommerce site uses, such as from McAfee or GeoTrust, can help reassure customers that their data is safe.

According to a survey by Actual Insights, 61% of customers have not purchased something because trust logos were missing, while over 75% said they didn’t buy because they didn’t recognize the trust logos used.

You should also make sure that your website has an SSL certificate. This is the certification that prompts your browser to show a padlock logo in the address bar when you visit specific sites — it shows visitors that your website is secure and encrypted, so that their payment information will be protected.

Finally, boost customer confidence by offering trusted one-click payment options, like PayPal or Apple Pay. Allowing your customers to pay with a secure payment method is especially important on mobile, where 20.2% of customers cite security concerns as a reason for not converting. These also speed up the checkout process by allowing customers to skip entering their credit card info.

3. Be upfront about costs and fees

Transparency is crucial when it comes to ecommerce. Ensure that your shipping costs and return policies are easy to find on your website without the customer clicking through the checkout process. Consider listing available shipping options, your returns policy, and any extra costs on each product page so that the customer doesn’t have to look too far.

Shipping costs might not be the same for every customer, as cart value, shipping destination, and other factors can play a role in the ultimate cost. Let shoppers know what options you have available and whether you offer free shipping above a certain cart size or expedited shipping for an upcharge.

4. Offer affordable (or free) 2-day shipping

45% of customers have abandoned a cart because of unsatisfactory delivery options.

Offering affordable shipping and 2-day delivery options are great incentives to help you meet customer expectations.

One way to make sure that shipping is affordable and fast for your customers is to work with an ecommerce fulfillment provider that allows you to split your inventory across locations. Instead shipping all orders from one central location, you save both your business and your customer time and money by shipping from the fulfillment center closest to your customer.

For example, ShipBob’s 2-Day Express program makes it incredibly easy for merchants with a Shopify store to increase conversions and manage fulfillment and shipping by splitting inventory across the US. The 2-Day Express program adds a new shipping option to your checkout that is only displayed to customers with a shipping address within the areas of guaranteed 2-day coverage.

[Download: ShipBob’s 2-Day Express Shipping: How to Drive Revenue Through Ecommerce Fulfillment]

ShipBob also partners with major carriers to receive discounted rates for each order and passes the savings on to you. This allows you to offer affordable or even free shipping to your customers, which means fewer abandoned carts.

As a bonus, a positive delivery experience leads to happier customers, which in turn means better testimonials and higher conversions.

On the other hand, fail to meet customer expectations around delivery, and conversions will suffer: 38% of shoppers are likely to never shop with a retailer again following a negative delivery experience, and negative reviews are likely to dissuade would-be buyers.

9 cart abandonment email tips to win over lost customers

As part of remarketing efforts, ecommerce merchants can send abandoned cart emails to shoppers who leave their carts behind, offering a reminder of the items added to the cart and encouraging them to return to complete a purchase.

Abandoned cart emails usually perform better than the average marketing email with a 48% open rate and 6.54% click-through rate.

Here are nine tips for sending successful cart recovery email campaigns.

1. Send timely emails

Timing is everything. Well, maybe not everything — but it is important. Studies show that it’s best to follow up and email customers within an hour, because the potential purchase is still fresh in the customer’s mind.

2. Don’t offer a coupon code

This may sound counterintuitive, but incentivizing customers to come back to complete a purchase can harm your bottom line.

When customers come to expect consistent discounts from your store, they may start to view your regular pricing as too expensive — or even abandon their carts for the sole purpose of receiving a discount via email.

3. Use the scarcity principle

Increase urgency by giving real-time updates on availability. For example, mentioning metrics such as “Only 10 left in stock” or “20 people viewed this product in the last hour” can encourage customers to make a quicker decision about a purchase.

4. Stay out of spam

Making sure your email makes it to your customers’ inbox is important for all marketing emails, but especially when it can make or break a sale. At the very least, make sure you are up-to-date with spam filter technology, ISP practices, anti-spam laws, and GDPR. This will help you stay whitelisted while increasing email deliverability, which will come in handy for the most important emails.

5. Make it personal

Customizing your email subject line based on the customer’s contact information and aspects related to what they had in their cart can increase conversion rates from abandoned cart emails. One study found that using the customer’s name in the subject line resulted in a 46.21% open rate while including the product name contributed to an open rate of 44.01%.

6.  Leverage social proof

Approximately two-thirds of US shoppers reference customer reviews before making a purchase. Including (positive) reviews for the products that shoppers abandoned can give them an extra nudge toward completing their purchase.

Make it as easy as possible for shoppers to get back to buying by linking them directly to their already-filled cart. This puts them just a click away from purchase.

8. Optimize for mobile

Mobile now accounts for 55% of email opens. Make sure that your emails are designed for mobile and easy to read on mobile devices by keeping them to one wide column and using large, standard fonts.

9. Test, test, test

If you still aren’t sold on a particular email technique, keep A/B testing different options to find the best one that works for your customer base and product line.

How My Calm Blanket lowered cart abandonment by 18%

ShipBob customer My Calm Blanket reduced cart abandonment and increased conversions by offering free 2-day shipping, allowing them to capture additional sales from people who value a speedy delivery.

The weighted blanket brand distributed inventory across the country, allowing them to reduce the shipping zones and also reduce shipping costs to far away customers. My Calm Blanket can ensure inventory near US customers by splitting inventory across ShipBob’s Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Pennsylvania fulfillment centers.

They also joined ShipBob’s 2-Day Express Shipping Program, which leverages ground shipping and is an inexpensive alternative to expedited air shipping. They promote their free shipping offer on a site-wide banner, encouraging shoppers to add to their cart and check out.

When a customer checks out on My Calm Blanket’s Shopify store, ShipBob’s technology checks if the shipping destination is within the predetermined coverage area and if there is enough inventory on-hand at the fulfillment center that’s closest to them.

If the order qualifies, 2-Day Express is displayed as a new shipping option in addition to the standard options.

The more ShipBob fulfillment centers My Calm Blanket ships out of, the more potential shipping addresses they can offer this 2-day option to. And the more people that they provide the benefit of free 2-day shipping to, the more conversions they get.

“With ShipBob’s 2-Day Express Program, we’ve seen an 18% reduction in cart abandonment.”

Founder, My Calm Blanket

Shopping cart abandonment infographic

Check out the infographic below to learn more about tackling this common ecommerce pain point.

Download or view the entire PDF here.

If you want to reduce shopping cart abandonment, understanding what customers want is key. When it comes to meeting expectations around shipping, ShipBob is here to help.

Learn how some of today’s hottest DTC brands have grown since outsourcing fulfillment to ShipBob. Read brand stories from TB12, Dossier, 100 Thieves, and more. Download “12 Brands That Grew While Outsourcing Fulfillment to ShipBob” below.

Infographic sources:

Order fulfillment services

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Warehouse management

Have your own warehouse? Get ShipBob WMS to reduce mis-picks, save time, and improve productivity.

Global scalability

Grow into new geographies with ShipBob's international presence in the US, UK, EU, Canada, and Australia.

Written By:

Rachel was a Content Marketing Specialist at ShipBob, where she created content that helps ecommerce merchants build and grow their businesses.

Read all posts written by Rachel Burns