Why is shopping cart abandonment rate a problem and how can it be reduced? Part 1

Shopping cart abandonment illustrated by an empty shopping cart on a smartphone

If you are involved in any sort of commerce, or you are a retailer, you have almost certainly seen this scenario before.

A customer visits your online or physical store, browses the goods on offer, even selects several items.

But right at the last possible moment, they leave. If they are on your website, that “buy now” button remains unclicked. If they are in your physical store, a shopping trolley or basket has been left on the floor.

But in eCommerce, compared to physical stores, shopping cart abandonment is a much bigger issue. Imagine if 75% of customers just left their baskets in the middle of the aisle and left the store? It would be chaos! But that’s exactly the scenario that online stores face.

In this post we’ll explain what shopping cart abandonment is, some reasons why it might occur and actions you can take to lower your shopping cart abandonment rate.

And make sure you come back for part 2 next week, for some in-depth chat about the “messy middle”…

An abandoned shopping cart
Photo by David Clarke on Unsplash

What does “shopping cart abandonment” rate mean?

Shopping cart abandonment rate is an eCommerce metric that measures the number of users who get all the way to the “check out” phase of a purchase journey, but abandon the purchase and leave the site.

It’s a big issue, with some saying that the industry average cart abandonment rate globally is 75%. That’s 3 out of 4 customers ditching their purchases right at the last minute. That’s a lot of marketing spend lost, a lot of potential revenue that just disappears.

If this same rate happened in physical stores we would be much more aware of the issue. We could see it, literally.

However, there are many reasons why a customer decides to not complete a purchase. And commerce businesses can take action to remedy them.

Electronic POS till to illustrate shopping cart abandonment

Reasons why shopping cart abandonment happens

There are lots of reasons why customers abandon their purchases. Here are some of the main factors that can come into play.

Unexpected Fees and Extra Charges

According to Bariliance, 25% of customers specifically cited shipping costs that were added at checkout as a reason for driving them to abandon their shopping cart. Baymard’s cart abandonment study cited “extra costs too high” as a reason for 49% of customers to abandon their carts. 

It’s clear that customers absolutely hate being informed of extra fees at the last possible moment. But retailers cannot always absorb shipping costs, or other extra fees, and remain profitable.

Retailers need to be as transparent about extra fees as possible at all stages in the purchase journey. This is essential.

But, if possible, retailers could absorb the extra fees once a certain threshold has been met. For example a retailer could put in a personalized message regarding fees once the shopping cart holds a certain amount. This can be an effective way to increase overall average order values (AOV) for your store.

Actions You Can Take:

  • Be clear on fees AT ALL TIMES
  • Don’t promise one price and add the fees at checkout with no warning
  • Increase AOV by dropping extra fees for customers who order more

Stop sign illustrating barriers put in front of users
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Account Creation Required

You may have worked hard on your site, creating a simple and beautiful purchase journey that is easy and intuitive. 

But if you force people to create an account to complete a purchase, it is all for nothing. 

According to Bariliance, 22% of customers who abandon their orders do not complete their purchase when they are required to create a new user account. 28% of ALL shoppers say that it is a reason why they’ve abandoned carts.

Customers want speed and convenience, throwing up a needless barrier to customers who just want to make a purchase is a good way of ensuring you don’t see those customers again.

If technically possible you should always offer first-time customers “guest” checkout functionality. If they like your store, they will come back.

Actions You Can Take:

  • Always offer first-time users a “guest” checkout
  • Don’t get in your customer’s way

Lock on a smartphone illustrating online payment security
Photo by Franck on Unsplash

Payment Security

If you are not a well-known brand, payment security can be a big barrier for your customers. This is even more true during the pandemic. In SEA alone more and more new customers are making purchases online, so they may not be as comfortable giving out payment details as more digital savvy customers.

But people are also right to be concerned about security. Online scams have increased during the pandemic. So you cannot blame your customers for being careful.

Again, being clear with your customers is a must. They might not know who you are so be sure to offer them a lot of support and proof to earn their trust.

But offering different payment options can also help. Give people control of how they pay you. You can offer the usual card payment options, but also investigate alternative options like PayPal or Omise where customers don’t have to directly put in their card details.

Offering a chat facility at checkout to talk customers through the process can also be a big help in overcoming this barrier.

Actions You Can Take:

  • Give your customers control of how they can pay you; give them options
  • Support customers and earn their trust
  • Offer a chat facility to ease customers payment concerns

Contact us via hello@maqe.com.

Talk to MAQE

Is shopping cart abandonment a big problem for your business? Talk to us via [email protected]. We’re commerce experts who can help you create digital experiences that make purchases seamless.

And come back next week for part 2 where we look at the toughest part of the customer journey, where most shopping cart abandonment occurs; the “messy middle”.