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The Ultimate Cart Abandonment Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Recapture Lost Revenue

What is shopping cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is when customers leave their checkout after adding an item to their shopping cart. A high cart abandonment rate is a common indicator of problems with your checkout process or experience. Tracking this metric will help you increase customer conversions and recapture lost revenue.

Shopping cart abandonment vs checkout abandonment

The difference between shopping cart abandonment and checkout abandonment is at what point in the checkout process customers leave. Shopping cart abandonment involves  customers leaving after having added at least one item to their cart; checkout abandonment involves customers leaving after starting the checkout process.

Checkout abandonment process showing where cart and checkout abandonment occur

In most cases, the checkout is initiated when a customer advances from the shopping cart page to enter billing and shipping information and complete their order.

Shopping cart abandonment rate

To calculate your shopping cart abandonment rate, divide the number of customers that add an item to a shopping cart by the total number of completed transactions. Subtract this value from 1 and multiply by 100. The shopping cart abandonment rate formula can be shown as follows:

Cart abandonment rate calculation formula

Your online shopping cart abandonment rate is an indication of how your shopping cart is functioning. A high cart abandonment rate is an indication that there are problems with your shopping cart’s design or user experience.

Understanding the checkout process

The checkout process is the sequence of steps a customer traverses to purchase the items in their online shopping cart. An optimal checkout flow gives customers a frictionless, smooth, and super-fast user experience.

The default checkout process consists of the following essential steps:

Entire shopping cart and checkout process with all steps broken down

Your checkout process will change based on the type of product or service you sell. For example, digital goods will be downloaded by the customer, and you won’t need to collect shipping details from the customer. 

Top 10 reasons for cart abandonment

The best way to address cart abandonment on your ecommerce store is to understand why customers are leaving in the first place. Below are the top reasons for cart abandonment – along with solutions – based on a collection of over 41 studies on cart abandonment between 2006 and 2018.

Graph displaying reasons for shopping cart abandonment and their average rates

1. Unexpected additional costs

The leading cause of cart abandonment is additional costs displayed only after a customer adds an item to the shopping cart. Without any knowledge of these costs, customers are shocked by hidden costs and will reconsider completing the purchase as they doubt the value of the purchase.

How to address it: Give customers full pricing and details upfront so that customers are not surprised by taxes, shipping fees, and any other added costs. This will reduce the element of surprise, and more customers will complete their orders.

2. Requiring account creation or registration

Jaypore checkout requiring customer sign up

Forcing customers to sign up with your service and register an account creates an obstacle to purchase and slows them down from completing their order.

How to address it: Always enable guest checkout for customers so visitors and one-time customers can make a purchase. While you want to foster loyalty, you don’t want to turn away visitors from completing their order.

3. Complicated, time-consuming checkout

Customers shopping online are looking for an extremely easy, fast, and convenient experience. The longer the process takes and the more complicated it is, the more likely customers are to abandon their purchase along the way, seeking out a better user experience.

How to address it: Continuously simplify the process, reducing order form fields, optimizing for best practices, and shortening time to complete the order. Remove any unneeded steps and make the process as easy and fast as possible for shoppers.

4. Not knowing total costs upfront

Customers want to know the final cost of the items they are looking to buy. Without all the information, they can’t make a decision before they get to the shopping cart or checkout steps. Without the total price calculated upfront at the cart stage, they will need to reconsider the value of the product when they advance to checkout.

How to address it: Give customers complete pricing details upfront so they are not surprised by after-tax pricing. This will limit the number of customers that leave checkout after starting, as customers will know the final price while adding items to their cart.

5. Lack of trust with platform security

Bolt shopping cart page with security badges being displayed

Any ecommerce store needs to provide high-quality security for customers using the service. Without informing customers of the security your ecommerce store offers, customers will not feel confident in the safety you provide.

How to address it: Provide customers safe payment processing and storage of shipping and billing details. To give customers confidence in the security you offer, display trust seals and badges clearly and prominently throughout the shopping cart and checkout process.

6. Inadequate delivery time and options

Shipping options and delivery times are a key component of online shopping. Customers expect their items to be delivered in a reasonable timeframe, or it’s not convenient to order online. They also expect multiple shipping options so they can ensure delivery is convenient for the customer.

How to address it: Make sure delivery times offered are accurate, as customers that received items late will be disappointed in your service. Try to improve the speed of your delivery, ensuring customers see the convenience in ordering from you. Offer as many shipping options as possible so customers get the experience they want.

7. Technical performance issues

Performance issues – such as errors, crashes, and bugs – all impact the customer experience. With multiple ecommerce stores available to customers, they will leave an underperforming platform for a smoother, more reliable experience.

How to address it: Monitor the performance of your ecommerce store, especially the shopping cart and checkout components. Identify performance issues, correcting them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Ensure you offer customers a high-quality service that is reliable and fast, motivating them to choose you every time.

8. Insufficient return policy

Bolt shopping cart page with link to return policy highlighted

As customers can’t try items on for size, see how they work, and more, a return policy is more important for ecommerce stores. Customers are likely to return items at a higher rate than brick-and-mortar stores.

How to address it: Offer customers a sufficient return policy for the items customers are interested in. Link customers to the return policy before they get to checkout so they know the return policy before getting to the point of purchase.

9. Lack of payment methods

Customers buying online want to pay with the most convenient payment method for them. While customers will sometimes complete a purchase with whichever methods are available, they are most likely to complete a purchase if the method they prefer is an option.

How to address it: Provide customers with as many payment methods as you can to give them their preferred option. Prioritize the most popular payment methods available to appease the majority. Expand payment options to give customers unique options as scaling becomes viable.

10. Credit cards declined

Errors in payment processing – such as declined credit cards – increase your abandonment rate. This can be caused by the customer, in the form of input errors, using expired cards, or fraudulent entries.

How to address it: While these are not always your fault, they always impact your cart abandonment rate. Test the performance of your payment processing and limit errors. Make data entry form fields extremely clear and control data entry to reduce the possibility of errors.

Cart abandonment statistics to use as benchmarks

Cart abandonment statistics give you information about trends, patterns, and benchmarks that help you gauge how you’re performing. When compared to your own analytics, they are a useful tool for understanding customer behavior and improving your ecommerce store. Let’s look at some benchmarks so you know where you stand.

What is an average, good, and bad shopping cart abandonment rate?

Checkout abandonment rates vary from industry to industry, product to product, and business to business. Based on a collection of 41 studies, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%. However, there is a wide variance; most sites’ abandonment rates vary within the 60% – 80% range.

It’s important to note that your ecommerce cart abandonment rate will never reach zero, as you can’t prevent 100% of abandonment. To help you make a general assessment of where your cart abandonment rate falls, use the following grading system:

Checkout abandonment rate grading system to determine where you stand

Your industry, the products you sell, your typical customer base, their behavior, and more all impact your cart abandonment rate. Consider the various factors that impact your cart abandonment to understand the challenges you have. Track analytics so you know your average abandonment rate, and develop strategies for improving it over time.

Cart abandonment statistics by device type

Customers will access your ecommerce site using different devices, such as desktop, tablet, and mobile. When designing page navigation, remember that customers will be using different sized screens with different points of interaction. Understand how users will interact with your buying experience, and how the screen size affects the cart abandonment rate.

Below are average cart abandonment rates by device:

Cart abandonment rates by devices, including desktop, tablet, and mobile

Overall, the smaller the screen, the higher the cart abandonment rate. Get an idea of how each device performs, so you can focus attention on the device type that is suffering the most.

What are average cart abandonment rates by industry and product type?

Shopping cart abandonment differs greatly by industry and product type. It’s important to understand your niche and its impact on your cart abandonment rate. Benchmark rates for industries and types of products can help you gauge whether you are doing well or not.

Graph displaying average cart abandonment rates by industry and product

Regardless of whether you’re beating the average abandonment rate based on the industry you are in or the product you sell, you should always seek to improve your shopping cart and checkout to reduce your cart abandonment rate. 

The most important cart abandonment metrics for your analytics

Below are the main KPIs to track to understand shopping cart abandonment rates:

  • Number of abandoned cart items: the number of items in the shopping cart at the time of abandonment.
  • Abandoned cart value: the monetary value of the entire shopping cart (all items) that have been abandoned.
  • Time to complete order: the total time it takes a customer to finish their checkout from the moment they begin browsing items.
  • Transaction path length: the number of steps or pages a customer has to progress through along the customer journey from browsing to a completed sale.
  • Shopping cart load times and responsiveness: the length of time it takes for an item to be added to a shopping cart after being selected; how responsive the shopping cart page is.
  • Checkout page load times: the length of time it takes for your checkout page to load and how responsive it is when customers interact with it.
  • Traffic source: the traffic source that your customer came to your site from.

Knowing the value of individual carts will allow you to specifically target high-item or high-value carts specifically, increasing your chances of recovering the sale. Studying these values as averages will give you an idea of how significant the impact cart abandonment has on your platform.

How to track and measure shopping cart abandonment metrics using Google Analytics

One of the best ways to track cart abandonment metrics is using a goal-oriented funnel on Google Analytics. This lets you build a sales funnel that monitors conversions and cart abandonment on your platform at each step of the checkout. You will also be able to segment customers to see which customers most frequently abandon, what traffic sources lead to the most abandonment, and which device types have the most abandoned carts.

One of the best ways to create this conversion funnel is to use an order confirmation page as the end goal, marking a conversion. In many cases, customers will enter at various points prior to this. To make this example easy to follow, we will shorten the funnel so it begins with the shopping page, when an item is added to someone’s shopping cart.

PRO TIP: To create a funnel in Google Analytics, you will need administrator permissions.

How to set up a goal-oriented funnel in Google Analytics

From your Google Analytics admin, select your profile and click the “Goals” tab. Google Analytics dashboard with Admin clicked and Goals tab highlighted

First, you will want to name your goal. We recommend using a descriptive name that helps you identify the goal from the name. For this example, we will name the goal “Purchase Completed.”

Google Analytics dashboard with Admin clicked and Goals tab highlighted Google Analytics dashboard being named

Next, you will choose the Goal Type from the list. For a goal oriented funnel, select “URL Destination.”

Google Analytics dashboard with goal type selected

To set up the end goal for your funnel, you will need to enter the end page URL under “Goal URL.” Next, select the Match Type for your goal; in this case, select “Exact Match” from the drop-down menu.

To set up earlier steps in the funnel, you will need to click the “Use funnel” checkbox under the Goal Funnel heading. This will give you options to add steps to the goal funnel, letting you set up the different necessary steps along the conversion funnel. Input the URL for the steps you wish to track and name them accordingly.

Once you’ve made all of your selections, click “Save.”

Google Analytics Goal Funnel section with info input and Save button highlighted

You’re all done! You’ve set up a goal-oriented funnel, letting you track conversions and cart abandonment along the way. With goal-oriented funnels and the ability to customize the goals, starting point, and checkpoints along the way, you can completely customize your funnel to track cart abandonment accurately.

Using Google Analytics Funnel Visualization

After setting up your goal-oriented funnel, you will be able to use Funnel Visualization to get a report on the funnel you created. To access this, click “Conversions” on the left sidebar, and then click “Funnel Visualization.”

Google Analytics dashboard with Conversions menu open and Funnel Visualization highlighted”

The Funnel Visualization displays the conversion rates for each goal in the funnel, and also displays the abandonment rate between each step.

Recapturing lost sales with cart abandonment recovery emails and remarketing

Once customers leave their shopping cart, that isn’t the end. You can still recover the sale and reduce the impact of abandonment on your cart page. You can then develop an abandoned cart email recovery strategy and design your emails. Use emailing as the main method of communication, and add other methods, such as chat and other messaging, as they make sense.

Beyond this, you can also engage in remarketing efforts, which involves cross-selling products to customers. The most effective way to do this is specifically target products that are related to what the customer was initially interested in. Accessories and items closely related are best to start with, and then expand out to similar categories if you can’t find something that fits for the exact item.

Below are the main metrics to track for your retargeting and remarketing efforts:

  • Email capture rate: the percentage of visitors that give you a valid email address so you can follow up with them.
  • Cart abandonment email open rate: the percentage of customers that open the abandoned cart recovery email they are sent.
  • Cart abandonment email click-through rate: the percentage of customers that open the abandoned cart email they are sent, and then click-through to return to their shopping cart.
  • Cart abandonment email conversion rate: the percentage of customers that open the abandoned cart email they are sent, click-through and return to their shopping cart, and then complete their purchase.

These metrics will help you track your sales and recovery funnels. Use these to understand where customers leave, how much money is being lost, and how many customers come back to buy.

To get more details about exactly where customers drop off, use a comprehensive analytics tool that lets you track page events, data entry and interaction with form fields, and other customer behavior.

The test, analyze, and repeat framework

As with all the strategies presented in this Ultimate Cart Abandonment Guide, you need to continuously track the metrics that guide customer actions on your site.

Run A/B tests regularly to see which designs, layouts, and forms of content work best. This will help you continuously improve. Make sure that when running A/B tests, you alter only one variable at a time, so you can identify what impacts the performance of the new campaign.

Below is an example of how you can create an A/B test sequence from your default abandoned cart flow:

Two AB tests set up and tracking

To learn more about addressing cart abandonment on your ecommerce store, the next installment of our Ultimate Cart Abandonment Guide covers how to calculate and use the cart abandonment rate to determine the extent of abandonment on your platform. Get a checkout experience designed with cart abandonment best practices in mind, to give your shoppers an optimized shopping cart and checkout experience. 

 

On top of optimal conversion rates, Bolt’s checkout experience has a built-in fraud management system that detects, prevents, and protects against fraud, keeping customers safe when buying on your online store. We are so confident in our ability to protect against fraud, that we offer a 100% coverage guarantee on fraudulent chargebacks.

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