How Cart Abandonment Is Killing Your Sales And What To Do About It

Stop cart abandonment


That’s the average shopping cart abandonment rate compiled from 27 different sources. That’s a lot of money going down the drain. Think about it, 2 out of every 3 shoppers on your site pick items to buy and then drop it when the time comes to pay. You’re making only one sale out of every three, so if you’re sales are $10,000 a month, you should really be making $30,000 a month!

Fighting shopping carts and recovering those sales clearly promises a huge increase in revenue. Yet, many e-commerce sites are ignoring it and focussing instead on bringing in new customers. Doesn’t it make more sense to first get your abandonment rate in hand before trying to make new customers? If you ignore it you’re only spending three times more on marketing to get a single sale.

To reduce your cart abandonment rate, you first need to understand why shoppers are leaving carts without paying. Statistia has polled online shoppers around the world to find the 14 biggest reasons for shopping cart abandonment.

Cart abandonment statistics
Presented With Unexpected Costs

This is the biggest reason for cart abandonment. As many as 56% decide not to continue with their purchase because they are suddenly hit with additional costs in the form of fees, taxes or shipping rates.

Let’s say you sell leather bags. Now a customer with a budget of $200 comes to your site and finds a nice bag that’s selling for $180. Great! A nice leather bag for less than $200. What a steal, the customer thinks. He immediately adds it to the cart and decides to checkout, mentally preparing himself to part with $180. Now, just as he is about to pay, he sees a 10% sales tax taking the total to $198.

You might argue that it’s fine because the total is still $2 below his initial budget, but remember that the customer had only expected to pay $180. In essence, he had anchored himself to that price and now anything above it is too expensive.¬†While you continue to argue that it’s not fair he’s closing your site and heading to your competition.

So how do you deal with this? Well it’s not so much the extra fees that matter but the unexpectedness of them. You don’t want customers getting comfortable with a certain price before adding on additional costs. Instead, be open about what extra costs there might be. If there’s a sales tax, add that to your display price. If there’s a shipping fee, mention that in the product description. If the shipping varies, add in a shipping calculator to your product page.

Make sure your customers know exactly how much they need to pay before they get to checkout and you’ll drastically reduce shopping cart abandonment.

I Was Just Browsing / Decided Against Buying

The online version of window shopping. At first glance, it might seem like there’s not much you can do about this. In fact, most store owners just think these shoppers are a waste of time and so they ignore it. At a combined 64% of all cart abandonment, you’re ignoring a lot of sales.

People who just browse don’t really need to add things to their cart, which means the ones who do are actually interested in buying the product but they are just not sure if they want to at that moment. It’s possible they may just be adding a bunch of things to their cart to see the total, before finally deciding if they want to buy.

The fact that they are interested in buying means you have a bit of a foothold. It’s now time to capitalise on this, but you must capitalise fast. The customer may not have bought just yet because they still wanted to hold on to their money, and indeed 99% of all shoppers don’t buy on the first visit, but 72% of all shoppers will buy within 12-24 hours of visting your site. As long as they don’t forget, of course.

Which means you need to remind them. There are two ways to do that – ad retargeting and cart recovery e-mails. Ad retargeting is basically displaying ads to people who have visited your site. If you’ve ever had the feeling that you’re suddenly seeing way too many ads from a particular site you just visited, it’s because of ad retargeting. Cart recovery e-mails are simply automatic mails sent to shoppers who left their email addresses behind before abandoning the cart.

We’ll talk about both methods in later posts.

Found A Better Price / Too expensive

Most shoppers tend to buy on price, especially when there are many sources for a certain product and brand doesn’t matter a great deal. Usually, the cheapest product is best as long as it’s reliable and has all the features required by the customer. This is a tough reason to beat, but with a combined total of 68% abandoning carts because of this, any solution is totally worth it.

The first is, obviously, offering some sort of discount or deal. If you’ve seen those annoying popups when you are about to close a tab saying, “But WAIT, there’s more!” you know what I’m talking about. The fact is those things work, and if you have the margins to offer a discount for the first purchase you could try it out. You could also offer discounts in your abandoned cart e-mails, if you don’t think the popup would work.

You can take this further and promote a loyalty program, giving shoppers additional benefits for buying from you. An example is Amazon Prime. For the sake of argument, let’s say a product you want on Amazon is too expensive and you find a cheaper one somewhere else. However, if Amazon was offering you free shipping on any subsequent purchases, plus special deals and discounts, you’d still go with them.

Finally, a referral program might incentivize people to buy from you. You could offer a special referral link to purchasers who then get some money if their friends make purchases on your site. You make more money, and so does the customer. It’s a win-win situation.

Website Issues

Reason 6 (complicated navigation), reason 7 (website crashed), reason 8 (too long) and reason 12 (Timed out) all deal with the website and hosting. 6 and 7 are about the way the site is designed. Too many steps before being able to purchase or a confusing navigation is bound to deter people and so they choose to leave. On the other hand, a crashed or timed out site forces purchasers out, denying them a purchase.

In total, 85% of cart abandonments are caused because of one of these four issues. Fortunately, a few technical tweaks can change that. The easiest way is to switch to an e-commerce software platform like Shopify. The hosting is completely taken care of so there won’t be any crashes or time outs. The themes are also well-designed which means navigation is quick and simple.

If you want to self-host and save some money, go with Digital Ocean if you have a big site or Hostgator for smaller sites. For your shopping cart solution use a combination of WordPress and Woocommerce. You can find many beautifully designed themes, some of which are free, and will make shopping on your site a breeze.

Payment Issues

The remaining reasons pertain to payment security issues. Too many security checks or concerns about payment security can scare people away. With so many cases of online fraud you need to get customers to trust you.

For security checks a good payment processor helps. Shopify has their own payment system, which is quick and secure. You can also use a processor like or Paypal.

To reduce security concerns, try using a trust badge like McAfee or BBB. These are little seals that go on your site and indicate that your site is safe and secure for purchases.

By putting these solutions into place, you can reduce cart abandonment rates on your site. You won’t get it all the way down to zero but you can still see big differences in your sales. In the next post in this series we’ll look at one of the most successful methods of dealing with cart abandonment – the cart recovery e-mail. Subscribe below for updates.

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