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Cart Abandonment Strategies on eCommerce Websites

Cart abandonment might be the most frustrating aspect of managing eCommerce sites. We’ve all been there–we fill our carts and head to check out only to abandon it. The question for marketers to answer is, why did we abandon our cart full of products or services? When we do this, the marketing dollars that brought us to the site & encouraged us to put items in our cart to go to waste. This blog will take a look at the reasons why shoppers abandon their carts and offer cart abandonment strategies to reverse this issue.

According to Statista, 88.05% of online shopping orders were abandoned in March of 2020 [1].   Can you imagine if in-person shopping had the same abandonment rates?! We’d see empty shopping carts full of products all over brick-and-mortar stores. Online shopping has a much higher probability of cart abandonment during checkout, and this is because of poor user experience.

If a user is actively browsing an eCommerce site and adds items to their cart, they are having a good experience. However, if they abandon their cart at checkout, the checkout process is conjuring a poor experience. But what constitutes a bad experience and what changed in those few clicks?

It is impossible to read every online shopper’s mind, but this graph by the Baymard Institute illustrates the reasons why users are abandoning their carts during checkout [2].
Graph of reasons why users abandon their carts at checkout
These experiences above, except #10, are negative experiences within the eCommerce checkout process or overall buying journey and can be corrected with web optimization, checkout optimization, and by implementing cart abandonment strategies.
One issue marketers have is treating the checkout process separately from the buying journey.  These are not two separate processes, if they are treated like that, then the buying experience will never feel like a truly optimized experience. How do you optimize the checkout process and have it seamlessly fit into your buying experience? The following are cart abandonment strategies for you to implement on your eCommerce site.

Simplify your checkout process:  

1.) Provide a back button in your checkout process

eCommerce websites that do not have a back button during their checkout process are not user-friendly. If a user wants to check their checkout information, such as their shipping address, during the last point in the checkout process, they will not enjoy exiting and needing to enter all of their details again. Keep it simple for them by adding a back button so that they can check their information at any point during the checkout.

2.) Allow the user to edit their order within the checkout process

This relates to the above cart abandonment strategy. Some buyers arrive on your eCommerce site and know exactly what they want. Others may take some time and examine all possible options before making a decision.  Optimize their user experience by allowing the order to be editable at checkout. When a user is checking out and they are unable to edit their order or product, they may abandon their cart rather than going through the steps to checkout again.

3.) Show users which step they are in throughout the buyer’s journey, and keep those steps short

Buyers do not want to guess where they are within their checkout process. They also do not want to experience a long checkout process. Show the buyer where they are within the process with a dynamic timeline.  The Baymard Institute suggests that the ideal checkout experience has only 12-14 elements for the user to fill in, however, while conducting their research, they found that the average e-commerce checkout flow in the US had 23.48 elements [3].

4.) Minimalistic checkout design

Make your checkout as simple as possible. Checking out is the only thing you want your users to focus on, not the sidebar menu, not the video ad, not your scrolling carousel on your homepage in the background. Keep it simple.

5.) Allow guest users to checkout

If your marketing team feels that they need to have users create an account, allow for users to do so. However, do not require a user to make an account at checkout, always allow them to continue as a guest.
The second reason most people abandon their cart is that the website either forced them to make an account or abandon it.  When you have a mandatory account set up policy at checkout, you are putting your buyers in an impossible situation, which caused 28% of users to abandon their carts.  Jared Spool wrote about his experience removing the “Register” button from checkout and replacing it with “continue”.  He states that the adjustment resulted in purchasing going up by 45%, with an extra $15 million in the first month and $300,000,000 in the first year [4].

Build Trustworthiness

1.) Include return information directly in the checkout

Unlike instore-purchases, online purchases cannot be returned at the customer service counter a week later. In fact, return policies differ from site to site and sometimes from product to product.  This is why return information needs to be clearly present within the checkout process or product information. Details like this could not be more relevant in the global Coronavirus crisis. Several online retailers and eCommerce sites have different return policies due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Be sure to be transparent with these crucial buying details.

2.) Make sure your eCommerce site is secure

Humans across the globe are likely to spend over 1 trillion dollars in digital payments by 2025 [5].  This increase in digital payments raises cybersecurity concerns on eCommerce sites. Make sure your security is up to date or risk a breach where your reputation could be damaged. 

3.) Reviews

Having satisfied customers leaving reviews on your eCommerce site shows the buyer that you are a trustworthy source of goods and or services.  Customers are 63% more likely to buy from a site that has reviews [6].

4.) Honest prices from the start of the shopping experience 

50% of online shoppers abandon their carts because the total they had in their heads didn’t match the total at checkout.  They see the words “taxes” with a seemingly made-up number, then a separate number for “fees” and then a completely different number for shipping.  This is a negative experience for shoppers, so much so that half of them will abandon their cart.
Be honest and upfront about pricing with your customers from the beginning of the buyer journey to the end, and factor all costs into the total item price.  Joe Putnam from Rejoiner wrote an article detailing the relationship between shipping and eCommerce sales stating, “shipping costs play a significant role in online retail purchases” [7].  David Bell, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business states “for whatever reason, a free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing to many than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10” [8].

eCommerce Site Optimization

browsing an optimized retail store on mobile device

1.) Make sure your website speed is healthy

In today’s digital world, users expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less.  In fact, a 2-second delay in load time can result in page abandonment rates of 87% [9]. Ensure a positive user experience by optimizing your eCommerce site’s speed.

2.) Use image optimization tools if your site is image-heavy

Blurry images or unloaded images can hurt website trustworthiness, especially if any product images are blurry.  Luckily, there are several plugins you can use to optimize these images, such as EWWW Image Optimizer by Exactly WWW, Smush, and Optimole.  

3.) Does your eCommerce site perform well on mobile devices

“Roughly half of the internet eCommerce traffic comes from a mobile device [10]”.  Many of the above causes for cart abandonment are due to issues with eCommerce sites not being mobile-friendly. For mobile devices, the abandonment rate is 78% [11]. Correct these mobile issues to increase the buying experience.

Are your Cart Abandonment Strategies Working?

So let’s say you take ~a few~ of our suggestions, other than increased completed checkouts, how can you tell that these strategies are working? One way of tracking your user’s buying process is through Google Analytics.  You can do this by setting up a “Checkout Complete” goal.  
When describing the goal type, select the first type “Destination” and put the URL of your completed checkout page in.  Next, create a funnel by adding every link to every step in your checkout process [12].  The easiest way to do this would be to do a test check-out side by side with the funnel builder. This way you can trace your steps and have clear access to the URLs when you need them. After this step, wait at least 25 hours before looking for your abandonment reports.  
Sign in to Google Analytics and from the left sidebar click conversions and eCommerce,  then click funnel visualization.  This report will show you where the abandonment is happening within the funnel. Compare these funnel reports weekly to see if your cart abandonment strategies are working.  
Tackling high cart abandonment rates can seem like a daunting process, but optimizing your e-commerce site for optimal buyer experience is key to reducing these rates.  For e-commerce operations, a positive web experience is the best thing you can provide for your users.

Thinking about eCommerce optimization or an eCommerce redesign? Let us know, we’d love to get started



[1] – Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate Worldwide 2020, By Industry
[2] – 44 Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics
[3] – Ecommerce Shopping Cart Abandonment Statistics
[4] – The $300 Million Button
[5] – Online Shopping, eCommerce and Internet Statistics you Should Know
[6] – Online Reviews are Essential for Your Online Store
[7] – What Impact Does Free Shipping Have on Online Retail Stores
[8] – Little Know Secrets of Highly Converting Checkout Funnels
[9] – How Fast Should a Website Load & How to Speed It Up
[10] – Mobile eCommerce Stats in 2021 and the Future Online Shopping Trends of Commerce
[11] – How to Track Shopping Cart Abandonment with Google Analytics
[12] – How to Track Shopping Cart Abandonment in Google Analytics in 4 Steps


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