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Sixteen Reasons Why People Abandon Shopping Carts

Shopping cart abandonment is the bane of the eCommerce industry. You take time to carefully select the products you sell, design a great website to merchandise those products and then you strategically market those products to your customers and potential customers.  Finally, customers come and place the products they want in their shopping cart. And like a mystery, they abandon their cart and disappear.

While shopping cart abandonment can be frustrating, and somewhat of a mystery, it can also be a huge opportunity. According to BI Intelligence estimates, approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will end up in an abandoned shopping cart this year alone. This is actually a big opportunity for retailers just like yourself because it means those shoppers are still contemplating a purchase. You just need to know the reason they are abandoning so you can make some changes and then convert those abandoned carts into sales.

Here’s a list of the sixteen of the most common reasons customers decide to abandon shopping carts (and what you can do about it):

1. High shipping prices made total purchase more than anticipated

A little bit of transparency goes a long way for eCommerce stores, especially during the checkout process. To avoid customers adding items to their carts and then dropping off after seeing high-than-expected shipping prices, include a shipping calculator on the product page or at least early on in the checkout process. Better yet, offer free shipping to make things as easy on your customers as possible.

2. Comparison shopping or simply browsing

Many people, especially during the holidays, add items to their carts in order to get an accurate order total or to save them for later. This is where having your abandoned cart emails set up to send soon after the cart is abandoned is important in order to remind shoppers of the items in their cart before they purchase from a competitor. You may also consider adding a price guarantee to your store’s policies (and displaying it on your product pages) to retain customers who are comparing your prices with competitors’ prices.

3. Confusing and/or frustrating checkout process

A complicated checkout process is enough to make shoppers feel frustrated and quickly bounce from your site. Sometimes, they can become distracted if there are too many steps or it the process is unclear, and they drop off well before the final step. Go through your checkout process as a customer would and ask yourself if there are points where a new customer may get frustrated or confused and abandon their cart. You can also look at Google Analytics to see where customers are most frequently dropping off. This will help you prioritize any changes you need to make.

4. Checkout process is too long

If your checkout process is several pages long, you may be turning customers off and causing them to tap out early. Consider adding a progress indicator at the top of the page that lets them know which step in the process they are on and how many they have left. You may also want to consider moving every step to one page so there are no surprises.

5. Total cost of item(s) are too high

Be completely upfront about all costs and fees associated with your products. You don’t have to necessarily list all taxes and expedited shipping costs on your product pages, but do include them as early on in the checkout process as possible to avoid “sticker shock” and abandoned carts, of course.

6. Order value was not large enough to qualify for free shipping

If you have a free shipping minimum, clearly state that minimum on your site, and leverage a “related products” section on your product pages so that customers who are close to that minimum can quickly add one or two more products to qualify for free shipping (which is often perceived as being a simpler, more straightforward purchase without hidden shipping costs).

7. Checkout requires too much personal information

Only ask customers for the most important information required to complete their purchase in order to gain their trust early on and move them through to order completion. If you’d like to ask helpful, but unrequired information, use the Order Complete page to ask them for follow up information (or even ask them to register for faster checkout in the future).

8. Site requires registration before purchase

Not everyone wants to create an account on your site before purchasing, and that’s okay. Allow them to complete their purchase without signing up on your site, but provide them with opportunities to sign up after checkout is complete. Even if they don’t sign up after their first purchase, a great overall experience with your store can encourage them to become a return customer and eventually sign up so you can market to them.

9. Site is untrustworthy or unreliable

First time shoppers may be wary of submitting their credit card information to a store they’ve never purchased from before. Ease their mind by including security badges and trust seals on your checkout pages to show that they’re covered if something goes wrong with their order.


10. Lack of payment options or preferred payment options not offered

Because over 46 percent of abandoned carts occur on the payment page, evaluate your payment options and consider widening the choices for customers. If your shopping cart software doesn’t include a lot of options out-of-the-box, see if there are plugins or tools available to expand your store’s payment methods.

11. Waiting for a coupon code or promotion

We’ve all done it; before purchasing a product from a store, we search online to see if there’s a coupon code available. It’s easy to get distracted after searching and forgetting to go back and complete your purchase, or you may even decide that it’s not worth it without a coupon. Consider offering a coupon code in a popup or sidebar for a small discount. If you’re worried that someone might then share that coupon code on a deal site and cause too many people to redeem the discount, add Unique Coupon Codes to your abandoned cart emails to lure them back in with a one-time-use-only coupon code.

12. Site is too slow

Online shoppers want instant gratification, and that’s hard to find when a store’s site is moving at the speed of molasses or is constantly timing out. Very few will be motivated to return to complete their purchase, even if you offer them a promotion in the abandoned cart email. You can test to see if your site is slow with Google’s website speed tool.

13. Store has limited shipping options

Not offering expedited shipping options may cause shoppers to look to your competitors who have the same or similar products and can ship their order at the right time. This is especially important during the holidays when some people wait until the last minute before finding that perfect gift.

14. Store doesn’t take international shoppers into account

Shipping your products internationally may be challenging logistically at first, but finding a way to do so can ensure that more people are able to purchase your products.

15. Your site isn’t mobile friendly

With mobile commerce accounting for 30 percent of all eCommerce sales, you can’t afford to neglect your shoppers who are visiting your site on their mobile devices. Test your checkout process on a variety of mobile devices to verify that shoppers are able to easily input their information and move through checkout on smaller screens.

16. Shopper got distracted and left your store

Distractions happen, and they sometimes pull shoppers away from their computers while they’re in the middle of purchasing products. They may receive a new email, social media notification, a phone call, or anything else that divides their attention. Optimize the timing and messaging of your abandoned cart emails to bring them back to your site when they’re ready!