The first installment in this Ultimate Cart Abandonment Guide will cover the fundamentals of cart abandonment, including these topics below:
We’ll be laying the groundwork for more advanced topics, so if you already know the basics, check out the chapters in this guide now.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Below are the main KPIs to track to understand shopping cart abandonment rates:
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.
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.
From your Google Analytics admin, select your profile and click the “Goals” tab.
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.”
Next, you will choose the Goal Type from the list. For a goal oriented funnel, select “URL Destination.”
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.”
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.
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.”
The Funnel Visualization displays the conversion rates for each goal in the funnel, and also displays the abandonment rate between each step.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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