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It happens every now and then in a brick and mortar store: you see a shopping cart wedged forlornly against a display, a few forgotten items in the basket, its owner long gone. In e-commerce, this phenomenon is the norm rather than the exception.

If online stores were real instead of virtual, abandoned shopping carts, some of them loaded high with merchandise, would fill most of the aisles. Sites that track shopping cart abandonment statistics, like Baymard and Listrak, show that almost three-quarters of e-commerce shopping carts are abandoned before or during checkout.

Shopping cart abandonment

What Is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

An abandoned shopping cart in eCommerce happens when a customer browsing your website adds items to their shopping cart but doesn’t make a purchase. Abandoned shopping carts are a natural part of the e-commerce ecosystem. Customers would feel rude walking away from a cashier at checkout and leaving merchandise strewn about the store, but online shoppers use their virtual shopping carts to comparison shop and aggregate products they might want to purchase someday—just not right now. It’s unrealistic to aim for an abandonment rate of zero.

E-commerce sellers shouldn’t give up on the problem, however. Converting even one-third of your shopping cart abandonments into sales could make a huge difference to your bottom line. If your abandonment rate is around the average at 75%, cutting that by a third would double your completed sale percentage from 25% to 50%. That’s double the sales and double the revenue for your business.

ECommerce Shopping Cart Abandonment Statistics

More than one third of shoppers abandon online shopping carts because they aren’t ready to make a purchase. You might consider that an abandonment baseline. You probably won’t get most of those people to buy. Here are more eCommerce shopping cart abandonment statistics that help illuminate the scope of the problem and point toward the solution.

  • Estimates of the industrywide eCommerce shopping cart abandonment rate range from 67% to over 80%. Rates are higher on mobile than computer shopping.
  • More than a quarter of shopping carts are abandoned because of long shipping times or strict return policies.
  • Retargeting emails can turn up to 30% of your abandoned carts into purchases.
  • Each year, customers leave $4.6 trillion worth of merchandise in abandoned eCommerce shopping carts.
  • Fewer than 3% of all visits to eCommerce sites end with a customer placing an order.
Listrak Shopping Cart Abandonment Index

Top reasons for shopping cart abandonment

The first step in reducing the number of abandoned shopping carts at your e-commerce site is to understand why your customers are dropping off. Reasons people cite for failing to complete online purchases include just browsing, not being ready to buy, website crashing, transaction pages were too long or complicated, and security concerns. These are all valid issues that you may be able to address, but none of these on its own will double your online sales.

Reasons for eCommerce Shopping Cart Abandonment

There is one factor that more than half of customers cite as the reason they abandoned their shopping carts: unexpected costs at checkout. And the main reason for unexpected costs is shipping charges. We have tips on how to reduce shipping costs and even offer free shipping below.

Here are some of the other major reasons for shopping cart abandonment.

  • Lack of trust in payment processing. Icons that show that your payment processing is secure will give consumers trust that their payment information is protected.
  • Failure to provide preferred payment options. One great way to remove friction from your checkout process is to make payment easy. In addition to credit cards, let people check out with PayPal or Apple Pay. If your site is international, make sure you offer the preferred payment options for the countries you serve.
  • Complex or unclear checkout process. Your checkout process should be easy to navigate and transparent at each step.
  • Long shipping times or not enough shipping options. We all want instant gratification. If your delivery window is too long, potential customers may lose interest. In addition, some shoppers need products by a certain date. Offer expedited shipping options to accommodate rush orders.
  • Lost shopping cart. Your customer might not have abandoned her shopping cart; maybe the cart abandoned her. Make it easy for your customers to save and return to their shopping carts.
  • Log in required for checkout. Saving a customer’s address and payment information is a convenience for repeat customers. Logins can also make the returns process easier. However, first-time shoppers may be turned off it they are forced to create yet another login. Give them a guest checkout option.
  • Return policies. Customers want to know what your return and refund policies are before they buy. Make your return policies as generous as possible. Display them prominently before and during checkout. And keep them simple.

Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment

There are a number of ways to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate. People who are interested enough to place your products in a shopping cart are good prospects. They are more likely than your average site visitor to make a purchase. As noted above, if you can convert even a small portion of your abandoned shopping carts into purchases, you can give your sales a big boost.

You can’t get rid of shopping cart abandonment altogether. However, there are concrete ways to reduce it on your site. Here are a few of the best ways to entice customers to complete purchases on your site.

Follow up with an email

As noted above, retargeting emails can get more than a quarter of shoppers to return to their carts. Abandoned cart emails can be a great place to let your brand voice shine. Whether that’s humorous, confident, high quality, or best value, it will remind the customer what they like about your brand.

There are numerous apps that allow you to automate retargeting emails. Some companies have had success with a more personal email. An offer of customer service support to answer questions can help customers understand why your price point is worth it or how your products will work for them.

Keep selling all the way to checkout

Someone in line at a brick-and-mortar store probably doesn’t need a sales pitch. But online shoppers can remain undecided until the moment they click the button to complete the purchase. Include calls to action, coupon codes, free shipping offers, and other incentives in your shopping cart.

Create a shopping cart that is visually appealing and easy to navigate. Let your customers easily toggle between your product pages and their cart so they can adjust or double check their order. Your cart should be just as appealing to your customers as your product pages.

Reduce delivery time

Long shipping times are a drag on sales. In our just-in-time world, online shoppers want to order a gift on December 22nd and get it before Christmas, wrapped and ready to put under the tree.

Reduce your shipping times by working with a fulfillment company whose warehouses can reach your customers quickly. A national fulfillment strategy will save you both money and time on shipping.

If there is a significant lag time, perhaps because each of your products is custom-made, tell your customers about this. Turn what could be a negative (takes two weeks to get to you) into a selling point (made custom, just for you).

fulfillment

A good eCommerce fulfillment center can reduce the time between when an order comes in and when it arrives on your customer’s doorstep. Red Stag Fulfillment offers an ironclad guarantee that we will turn around your orders fast. You can choose three service levels: 3 p.m. cutoff, 5 p.m. cutoff, or the next business day. Same-day shipping is a great way to reduce delivery time and increase completed orders.

Free shipping

Your customers want the same thing every online shopper wants: free shipping. You may feel that free shipping will take too large a bite out of your margins, but there are some ways to offer free shipping without breaking the bank.

Ask your 3PL provider about discounted shipping rates. As a quantity customer, your fulfillment center may be eligible for discounts and pass these on to you. Your 3PL provider may also be able to recommend a different carrier that offers better rates to the destinations where you ship the most orders.

Fulfillment center workers

You can reduce the bite of free shipping and create an incentive for sales by offering it on orders over a certain amount. Test free shipping offers at different order levels to find the sweet spot that leads to the greatest conversion with the lowest cost.

Of course, free shipping isn’t free. Once you figure out your free shipping tipping point, add the extra cost to your prices. Your customers will pay a little more but will have the advantage of knowing the true costs of your products before they add them to their shopping carts. You will gain their confidence because they won’t have any nasty surprises during checkout.

Make sure your customers understand the terms of your free shipping offer by including a prominent free shipping banner on your site.

Another view: it is okay to charge for shipping

Some e-commerce businesses just aren’t structured to offer free shipping. Maybe your products are heavy or bulky. Perhaps you ship a lot of products overseas. Transparency and good communication can keep shipping costs from sending your customers fleeing from their shopping carts.

No one expects you to ship a mini-fridge or a standing desk for free. Your customers in Burkina Faso and Turkmenistan know that they will have to pay for shipping from the U.S. Include a shipping cost calculator feature on your product pages, so shoppers can assess the full cost before they commit to a shopping cart.

Include an explainer about the care and speed with which your fulfillment warehouse sends out your products, so your customers understand the value they get when they pay for shipping. Customers are less upset by the cost of shipping than by what they perceive as hidden costs sprung on them at checkout. If you’re upfront about your shipping charges, customers will reward you for it.

Reach Out to Your Customers

The thread that runs through all of these suggestions is this: communicate with your customers early and often. Include a calculator to show estimated shipping costs and delivery times on product pages. Avoiding unpleasant surprises at the checkout can improve your conversion rate.

When you provide more order information on your product pages, you avoid the problem of people who load up a shopping cart and head for the checkout just so they can understand your shipping costs. A carefully crafted message explaining your shipping and delivery costs and timing could even turn a browser into a buyer.

Online shopping is all about trust. A customer who clicks the Buy button knowing exactly what she will pay at checkout is a customer who understands and accepts your terms. Show her she can trust you all the way through to shipping and delivery, and you’ve earned her loyalty.

eCommerce shopping cart customer checkout