How to Stop Shopping Cart Abandonment

March 23, 2022

The Bolt Team

Even if you offer a robust, differentiated ecommerce experience, there is still one adversary that costs all shop owners $18 billion per year in lost revenue—shopping cart abandonment. It’s a burning issue ecommerce shop owners can’t overlook.

And while online window shoppers with low buying intent are tough to convert, you can recoup some of your revenue by optimizing your checkout. So let’s dive into some actionable tactics that will turn your browsers into customers.

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What is shopping cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment occurs when customers leave their checkout after adding an item to their shopping cart. A high shopping cart abandonment rate often means issues with your checkout process or experience are present. Tracking this metric helps you increase customer conversions and recapture lost revenue.

Shoppers expect a seamless shopping experience, or they’ll go somewhere else. Eighty-three percent of online shoppers say convenience while shopping is more important than five years ago. Ways to make the checkout experience more user-friendly include:

  • Providing one-click checkout
  • Being transparent about all costs
  • Adding thumbnails of the products shoppers add to their carts
  • Placing progress indicators on the checkout page
  • Making navigation between cart and store effortless
  • Offering live chat support
  • Optimizing page load speeds

Shopping cart abandonment vs. checkout abandonment

The difference between shopping cart abandonment and checkout abandonment is the point in the checkout process when customers leave. Shopping cart abandonment involves customers leaving after adding at least one item to their cart. Checkout abandonment involves customers leaving after starting the checkout process.

In most cases, the checkout begins 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. Then, subtract this value from 1 and multiply by 100. 

Your online shopping cart abandonment rate indicates how your shopping cart is functioning. If your cart abandonment rate is high, there are likely issues with the design of your checkout or user experience.

Understanding the checkout process

The checkout process is the sequence of steps a customer goes through to purchase items in their 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:

  1. Browsing products
  2. Add items to the shopping cart
  3. Fill out billing information
  4. Enter shipping address
  5. Preview order
  6. Pay for the items
  7. Receive confirmation

Your checkout process changes based on the product or service you sell. For example, digital goods downloaded by the customer won’t require shipping details from the customer. 

Top 10 reasons for shopping cart abandonment

The best way to address cart abandonment in your ecommerce store is to understand why customers are leaving in the first place. So let’s cover the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment and solutions to address them.

  1. Unexpected additional costs
  2. Requiring account creation or registration
  3. Complicated, time-consuming checkout
  4. Not knowing the total costs upfront
  5. Lack of trust with platform security
  6. Inadequate delivery time and options
  7. Technical performance issues
  8. Insufficient return policy
  9. Lack of payment options
  10. Credit card declined

1. Unexpected additional costs

The leading cause of cart abandonment is additional costs displayed after a customer adds an item to the shopping cart. Without knowing these costs, customers are shocked and reconsider completing the purchase.

How to address it: Give customers full pricing and details upfront, so they are not surprised by taxes, shipping fees, and other added costs. Doing this reduces the element of surprise and increases transparency, which leads to more complete orders.

2. Requiring account creation or registration

Forcing customers to sign up or register for an account creates an obstacle to purchasing. It’s a substantial reason shoppers don’t complete their orders. Placing that significant barrier between your engaged, interested shopper and the buy button is a giant conversion killer.

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 deter visitors from completing their orders.

3. Complicated, time-consuming checkout

Customers shopping online are looking for an effortless, fast, and convenient experience. Unfortunately, the longer and more complicated the process is, the more likely customers are to abandon their purchase. And are off to seek out a better user experience.

How to address it: Continuously simplify the process to shorten the time it takes to complete an order. Reduce order form fields and optimize for best practices. Remove any unnecessary steps. Make the process as easy and fast as possible for shoppers.

Nowadays, fast, one-click checkout is no longer a nice-to-have feature—it’s a must if you want to compete. Bolt makes checkout as easy as a single click, vastly reducing the checkout friction that causes customers to abandon their carts. 

4. Not knowing total costs upfront

Shoppers want to know the final cost of the items they are purchasing. Without all the information, they can’t decide before getting to the shopping cart or checkout steps. In addition, without the total price calculated upfront at the cart stage, they will reconsider the product’s value at the checkout.

How to address it: Give customers complete pricing details upfront, so they are not surprised by after-tax pricing. In addition, 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

All ecommerce stores need to provide high-quality security for customers using their sites. Without informing customers of the protection your ecommerce store offers, they won’t feel confident shopping on your site.

How to address it

Provide customers with safe payment processing and storage of shipping and billing details. To give customers confidence in your security, display trust seals and badges clearly and prominently throughout the shopping cart and checkout process.

Security is at the heart of Bolt’s platform. Bolt is designed as the operating system for commerce, and we’ve built security into that system from the ground up. As a result, retailers have trusted us to process payment information for tens of millions of shoppers buying billions of dollars in goods and services. They see that our systems uphold a high standard of data privacy, compliance, and security.

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.

How to address it

Do your best to make sure delivery times are accurate because customers that receive items late will be disappointed. 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 impact the customer experience. With lots of competition, shoppers will leave an underperforming platform for a smoother, more reliable experience.

How to address it: Monitor the performance of your ecommerce store frequently—especially the shopping cart and checkout components. Identify performance issues, and correct them quickly and efficiently. Offer customers a high-quality service that is reliable and fast. Motivate them to choose you every time.

8. Insufficient return policy

Online shopping presents challenges you don’t encounter in stores. For example, shoppers can’t try items on for size and see how they work. A return policy is essential for ecommerce stores for this reason. Customers are likely to return items at a higher rate than brick-and-mortar stores.

How to address it: Offer customers a good return policy. Link your shoppers directly to the return policy on your site before they get to the checkout. This way, they understand their options before the point of purchase.

9. Lack of payment methods

Customers buying online want to pay with the payment method that works for them. Shoppers are more likely to complete a purchase if the way they prefer is an option.

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

While payment preferences differ everywhere, alternative payment methods (APMs) are gaining popularity. Bolt makes it easy to accept the most popular APMs, including digital wallets like PayPal and Apple Pay, and buy now, pay later (BNPL) options like Afterpay. In addition, Bolt is continually adding support for top APMs—including extending coverage to local and regional payment methods in the near horizon.

10. Credit cards declined

Errors in payment processing, such as declined credit cards, increase your shopping cart abandonment rate. This can be caused by the customer in the form of input errors, paying with expired cards, or entering fraudulent information.

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. For example, 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. Compared to your analytics, they are a valuable tool for understanding customer behavior. First, let’s look at some benchmarks to 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 41 studies, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%. However, there is a wide variance. Most sites’ abandonment rate varies and is between 60–80 percent.

It’s important to note that your ecommerce cart abandonment rate will never reach zero. You can’t prevent all shopping cart abandonment. Use the following grading system to help you make a general assessment of where your cart abandonment rate falls.

Your industry, your products, and your customer base impact your cart abandonment rate. First, consider the various factors that affect your cart abandonment to understand your challenges. Then, track analytics to 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 varying interaction points. 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:

  • Desktop: 69.75%
  • Mobile: 85.65%
  • Tablets: 80.74%

From the data, you can gather that 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 significantly by industry and product type. Therefore, it’s important to understand your niche and its impact on your cart abandonment rate. Benchmark rates for sectors and types of products help you gauge where you stand.

Regardless of whether you’re beating the average abandonment rate based on the industry you are in or the product you sell, you should continuously optimize your 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 is the number of items in the shopping cart at the time of abandonment.
  • Abandoned cart value is the monetary value of the entire shopping cart that has been abandoned.
  • Time to complete an order is the total time it takes a customer to finish their checkout from the moment they begin browsing items.
  • Transaction path length is the number of steps or pages a customer goes through on their journey, from browsing to a completed sale.
  • Shopping cart load times and responsiveness is the length of time it takes for an item to be added to a shopping cart after it is selected. In other words, how responsive is your shopping cart page?
  • Checkout page load times is the length of time it takes for your checkout page to load and how responsive it is to shoppers.
  • Traffic source reveals what site your customer came to your site from.

Knowing the value of individual carts allows you to target high-item or high-value carts, increasing your chances of recovering the sale. In addition, 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 with the goal-oriented funnel on Google Analytics. This lets you build a sales funnel that monitors conversions and cart abandonment on your platform at each checkout step. You will also be able to segment customers and see which customers most frequently abandon their carts. In addition, you will see 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 before this. To make this example easy to follow, we will shorten the funnel. Here 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

Select Profile and click the “Goals” tab from your Google Analytics admin. 

First, name your goal. Use descriptive language that helps you identify the purpose from the name. For this example, call the goal “Purchase Completed.”

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

To set up the end goal for your funnel, 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, click the “Use funnel” checkbox under the Goal Funnel heading. Doing so gives you options to add stages to the goal funnel, allowing the set up of the necessary steps along the conversion funnel. Next, 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 and can now track conversions and cart abandonment. With goal-oriented funnels and the ability to customize the goals, starting point, and checkpoints, you can completely customize your funnel to track cart abandonment accurately.

Using Google Analytics Funnel Visualization

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

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

Recapture lost sales with cart abandonment recovery emails and remarketing

If a customer abandons their shopping cart, it doesn’t have to be the end of the communication. You can recover the sale and reduce the impact of abandonment on your cart page.

Develop an abandoned cart email recovery strategy and design your emails. Use email as the primary method of communication, and add other ways, such as chat and other messaging, as they make sense.

Beyond this, engage in remarketing efforts, which involves cross-selling products to customers—specifically, target products related to the shoppers’ interests. Accessories and related items are best to start with and expand to similar categories if you can’t find something that fits the exact item.

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

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

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

To get more details about 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

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. When running A/B tests, 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.

While it’s unsettling to know that seven out of ten shoppers abandon their carts, shop owners can feel optimistic about their checkout optimization strategy if they partner with Bolt. Checkout is as easy as a single click with Bolt, vastly reducing the checkout friction that causes customers to abandon their carts.

In addition to optimizing your conversion rates, Bolt’s checkout has a built-in fraud management system that detects, prevents, and protects against fraud—keeping your shoppers safe when buying on your online shop. Get a 100% coverage guarantee on fraudulent chargebacks with Bolt.

Bolt One-Click Checkout

Start treating millions of shoppers like returning customers and make their checkout easier than ever.

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