14 Reasons for Cart Abandonment and Strategies to Improve Conversions

To get customers to convert on your online store, you need an appealing and intuitive site design, and you need to market effectively. While that’ll get customers closer to buying, on average, 70% of customers will leave after adding an item to their cart. This cart abandonment leads to fewer sales for your online store.

To make the most of your time and effort, you want to make sure customers convert with a fast checkout experience. A great way to do this is to analyze areas where customers are abandoning carts, to reduce the amount of customers leaving and increase conversions at the same time.

What cart abandonment is and why you should address it

Cart abandonment is when customers leave your site after adding an item to their shopping cart. To calculate the cart abandonment rate, divide the total number of completed purchases by the number of created carts, and subtract from 1. For example, if you have 300 carts created, and 100 completed purchases, then your cart abandonment rate is:

Infographic of shopping cart abandonment rate formula with example

The goal in calculating this is to figure out how to reduce your cart abandonment rate and improve revenue.

Shopping cart abandonment differs from checkout abandonment in when the customer leaves the process. Learn to identify where the drop-offs occur (“Am I dealing with cart abandonment, checkout abandonment, or both?”) and develop strategies to reduce both issues.

The top 14 reasons for cart abandonment

To improve your checkout experience, you need to understand why customers are leaving after adding items to their cart. These are the top 14 reasons for abandoning the shopping cart:

1. High additional costs (taxes, shipping, and other fees)

Shipping costs added to shopping cart page

Unexpected costs added when a customer adds an item to the cart makes the customer rethink their purchase. Some customers will even add items to their cart just to view a final total. Once they see the fees that are added, they are less likely to proceed.

Solution: Give customers all costs upfront, including any shipping costs, what taxes apply, and any other fees they should expect. These details can be shown on the product detail page by asking the customer for their zip code. If customers are less surprised after adding an item, they are more likely to follow through to purchase.

2. Forced account creation

Forcing users to create an account or register in order to add items to a virtual shopping cart is always a bad idea. It breaks the purchase cycle by adding a step and will turn some customers away.

Solution: Offer guest checkout; never force account creation. If you want to collect emails and other contact info for remarketing purposes, try collecting this information after the purchase is complete, at the confirmation page step (ask the customer if they want to “Get email updates about my purchase, and other special offers?” or something similar).

3. Complicated, time-consuming checkout

A long, complex checkout process is one of the leading reasons customers abandon payment. Every added step and form field slows the user from finishing payment and makes it more difficult. As customers are looking for a simple, convenient process, any additional steps hurt your user experience.

Solution: Reduce steps, minimize data entry, and optimize the checkout to make it more streamlined and straightforward. Set up an auto-save capability for when users abandon their shopping cart with items in it and auto-fill forms when possible.

4. Inability to calculate total costs upfront

Pricing is a major factor for online shoppers. When customers are shopping, they are not given full pricing details, including taxes and shipping costs. Many customers add items to shopping carts to determine what the total cost for their order will be.

Solution: Give customers full pricing details before items are added to a shopping cart. Customers are more likely to proceed if they advance to this step knowing the total price beforehand.

5. Security concerns

Security seals displayed on shopping cart page

Customers expect that credit card details and other financial and personal information will be stored safely and that payments will be processed securely.

Solution: Follow PCI compliance guidelines to store credit card details properly and validate transactions. Use a high-quality fraud management system that detects and prevents fraud on your ecommerce store. Display trust seals and signals throughout the process so customers know their information is safe.

6. Slow delivery and limited shipping options

Delivery is a main component of the ecommerce experience. Customers expect to have shipping options that suit their needs and on-time delivery.

Solution: Give customers a variety of shipping options, and the ability to customize shipping details. Let customers personalize delivery times and choose between delivery providers to get the experience they prefer.

7. Major website performance issues

As expected, serious problems with performance such as crashes and errors will lead customers to seek a better user experience. Minor performance problems are less likely to scare customers off, but will still impact their experience and should be prevented.

Solution: Test and analyze the performance of your shopping cart and checkout, measuring load times, downtime, and responsiveness. Identify errors, weak points, and improve the performance of your shopping cart for customers as needed.

8. Inadequate return policy

Customers often get information on the return policy and warranty of items after adding items to their cart. An insufficient return policy will cause customers to leave and seek a better place to buy the product. While they may return, they might find a better return policy elsewhere.

Solution: Offer customers a good return policy, and a simple customer service system to help facilitate this. Link clearly to the return policy early in the process so customers are comfortable making the purchase.

9. Lack of payment methods

Shopping cart page with payment options listed

Customers buying online want the convenience of using their preferred payment method. The less options available to your customers, the more likely they are to abandon. If customers add items to cart only to learn they can’t buy using the payment option they want, they may leave.

Solution: Give customers as many payment options as you can. Because adding options costs money, prioritize major payment methods first, expanding as you go. Offer MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal, expanding to more specialized payment options when viable.

10. Excessive upselling

Upselling and cross-selling can help drive sales and increase your average order value (AOV). However, overwhelming customers with cross-promotions can distract them from the original purchase and annoy them.

Solution: Be cautious when cross-selling to customers. Test abandonment and upselling analytics to understand your success and challenges, improving your ability to cross-sell without losing customers.

11. Prices displayed in foreign currency

Shopping cart page with option to change currency

Pricing is commonly displayed based on the main area of business for your ecommerce store. However, many ecommerce stores serve a much wider market, potentially operating internationally. When customers can’t find pricing in their native currency, they will likely seek out another store.

Solution: Use a plugin that enables multi-currency based on the location of the customer. The location of the customer can be determined by their IP address. In addition, give customers the option to select a different currency.

12. Better pricing from other ecommerce sites

Customers have options when buying online. To get the best deals, customers will browse and compare pricing. If they find a better deal elsewhere, they will abandon their shopping cart and go for the better deal with your competitor.

Solution: Offer competitive pricing to customers so they choose to buy from you. Offering better service, shipping, and more can also help you stand out. Be aware of how your competition price their services and use a price point that challenges your competitors.

13. Browsing and researching product

Customers simply browsing and conducting product research online often add items to their shopping cart, only to abandon later. In most cases, this is because customers do not have enough information about the sale prior to initiating the checkout process.

Solution: It is important to note that you will never entirely eliminate abandonment due to browsing, but you can reduce its impact on cart abandonment by giving customers product and service information before customers add items to their cart. This eliminates the need to initiate checkout to gain these details, which reduces abandonment.

14. No coupon code available

Shopping cart page with area to input discount code

Ecommerce customers are flooded with discount codes and promotional offers. Customers are so accustomed to this that many seek out coupon codes or wait to make a purchase until they have found one.

Solution: Offer customers discount codes. Design your checkout so that discount codes are not an obvious component of the checkout, but are still accessible to customers that have one. The idea is to make sure you do not deter customers without a code from completing purchase, while making it easy to find for customers with a promo code.

Bonus: Site not mobile-friendly

With more than 50% of ecommerce sales made on mobile, ecommerce retailers with inadequate mobile designs are failing to satisfy most of their customers.

Solution: Prioritize the mobile design for your ecommerce store first. Create a responsive design that is compatible with both mobile and desktop. Standardize your shopping cart and checkout design across device types so users have a familiar experience buying across devices.

Shopping cart abandonment has a big impact on your checkout, reducing conversions on your ecommerce store. Save yourself time and effort by integrating a checkout experience that comes optimized to deliver customers a checkout twice as fast as competitors.

Bolt focuses on checkout security, ensuring users are protected against fraud with a high-quality fraud management system. This is a core component of the checkout service, with an optimized user interface and experience that makes it simple and convenient to process online payments with confidence.

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ThinkShop by Bolt does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. Contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.