The Ultimate Guide To Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment

With eCommerce platforms like Shopify, it is becoming easier for retailers to take their business online. But the ease of setting up an online store has increased the number of challenges a retailer needs to overcome – right from brand awareness to customer acquisition, engagement, and retention. One challenge that seems to be getting tougher every year – cart abandonment.

What is shopping cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is when an online shopper visits your store, browses the products you’re selling, adds some to their cart but then drops out of the process before completing the purchase.

So basically, the shopper starts the check out process but never ends up completing a transaction on your store. They don’t delete or wishlist the products they have added in their cart, they just leave them there.

As one of the primary goals of all retailers, the shopping cart abandonment rate is calculated by dividing the number of carts abandoned by the total number of carts created, multiplied by 100.

For instance, if your store is experiencing a very high cart abandonment rate, it means you’re losing a majority of your sales. It indicates that your sales funnel is broken and you need to optimize your approach to acquiring customers – right from driving them to your site to getting them to add products to their cart.

How common is shopping cart abandonment?

According to another study by the Baymard Institute, shopping cart abandonment is pretty common across all retail industries. In fact, it typically varies from anywhere between 60% to 80%.

Cart-Abandonment-Rate-by-Industry (1)


And cart abandoners don’t come from only a specific type of device. No matter what device they’re making use of, cart abandonment is common and it is the highest on mobile phones. The reason being that most eCommerce retailers have still not optimized their stores for mobile.

shopping cart abandonment by device


Common shopping cart abandonment reasons

The shopping cart abandonment reasons vary based on the different types of online shoppers. To be able to reduce cart abandonment, an online retailer needs to understand consumer psychology and why they tend to leave behind the products they really like.

According to the Baymard Institute, there are some common reasons why online retailers experience shopping cart abandonment.

cart abandonment reasons

1. High added costs (shipping, tax, fees)

Extra costs added to the cart total result in 55% of abandonment. These could be the shipping costs, special delivery costs, a tax of any other kind of fee that you add to the total amount, that the shopper wasn’t aware of before.

Imagine being happy about bagging all your favorite products under $100 and then being told that an additional $50 is added for shipping the order. It doesn’t just exceed your budget, but now you also have to make a decision between which products you want to keep and which you can do away with. Might as well, come back to it later. Right?

2. Distractions

More than half the online shoppers use browser extensions and web apps to conduct a quick price comparison between products, or to find better deals on the one they’re wanting to purchase. These extensions end up injecting malware into your site on the consumer browser, leading to even competitor ads showing up on your site.

One deal that offers just 5% more discount and your shopper is taken away from the cart before completing the purchase.

3. Having to create an account

While it sounds like a good idea for a shopper to create an account and save their details for future purchases to you, 34% of them actually find it inconvenient. The millennial shopper wants to do things quickly and creating an account isn’t one of them – especially if they’re making a purchase for the first time on your store and aren’t even sure if they would come back for more.

4. Long checkout process

As we said, online shoppers want to be able to make a purchase quickly. A long and confusing checkout process only annoys them and nudges to leave even the best of deals behind. Imagine having to go through ten steps to make a purchase. It will not just ruin your on-site experience, but also make you want to check other stores out where it could be easier to make the purchase.

5. Cart total visibility

A lot of your shoppers are not going to make a purchase on their first visit. Some of them come to explore what deals you can offer, make a comparison with other stores they might have open in another tab or generally just do some window shopping. But in all the cases, not knowing how many products they have added to the cart or what their cart total is, leads to 21% of shopping cart abandonment.

Take, for instance, you browse through all categories on the store. You continue to add products you like to the cart and eventually move towards making a purchase and then the total cost hits you. If it exceeds your budget or what you were there for, you’re bound to take a step back.

6. Transaction security concerns

With the increasing number of data breaches online, payment security is one of the top concerns of online shoppers. They want to be absolutely sure of their transaction details not being stolen before completing a purchase. Very small elements like outdated layouts, missing or broken images, no SSL certificate and others can cause this distrust, and lead to shopping cart abandonment.

7. Website errors

17% of shopping cart abandonment occurs due to technical glitches on the retailer’s site that confuse the shopper. Website errors, crashes and load times too contribute to shoppers walking away due to a bad on-site experience or not completing the purchase.

Even worse, they create an impression of a brand that isn’t offering a secure portal for them to make purchases on.

8. Slow delivery

It’s not just about completing a purchase quickly; the shoppers want to receive their orders soon too and that’s why a slow delivery is sure to result in shopping cart abandonment. 16% of your shoppers expect you to offer faster or at least multiple shipping and delivery options that they can choose from.

9. Unsatisfactory returns policy

Everyone’s skeptical of purchasing products online. That’s because unlike the brick and mortar stores, you don’t get to try and test the products before you make a purchase. If the shopper doesn’t understand your returns policy or finds it too overwhelming, they are less likely to make a purchase – especially the first time shoppers.

10. Not enough payment methods

Every shopper is different and they may prefer different modes to make a purchase. If you restrict your retail site to offering only one way to make a payment, chances are that you’ll lose all those potential customers who couldn’t use that specific mode but were looking for others.

For example, if your store says it accepts only credit cards, it will lose out on those who keep only debit cards or prefer paying using online wallets. Or what if that one card the shopper intends on using gets declined?

11. Lack of customer support

In a brick and mortar store, you’re able to actively interact with your shoppers and help them make an informed purchase. But when it comes to your online store, there is no way to physically reach out to a skeptical or confused shopper.

For instance, a shopper could be confused between two sizes of the same shoe. If he is not able to figure out the right size for him, he is more likely to leave in just a few minutes.

Shopping cart abandonment types

While everyone refers to cart abandonment as when a shopper leaves from their cart page or a checkout page, there are different shopping cart abandonment types based on where the shopper dropped off.

cart abandonment types

1. Browse abandonment

Browse abandonment is the simplest form of cart abandonment or simply said, losing a sale. In this scenario, a shopper comes to your site, browses through products in different categories to probe their prices. They then leave the site without adding any of the products to their cart or in their wishlist.

These are shoppers that indicate how many of the shoppers you’re driving in are actually interested in making a purchase or are interested in the products you are selling. They can be nudged to make a purchase with the right marketing and optimization strategies.

2. Cart abandonment

This is the shopping cart abandonment that we all know of. It is when a shopper comes to your store, browses products, adds them to his cart and then leaves without making a purchase.

These are shoppers that came with an intent to make a purchase, found the products that they wanted to buy, but left due to reasons such as not being able to find a coupon, too lengthy a checkout process, not finding a suitable payment or shipping method, etc.

3. Checkout abandonment

Some shoppers initiate the checkout process, filling up the necessary billing and shipping information. But they don’t complete the transaction and leave the process midway, abandoning the items in their cart.

That’s checkout abandonment. This often happens when the checkout process is too confusing, complicated or long, according to the shopper.

Cart abandonment solutions

While you can’t stop a shopper from wanting to explore more products or try to find better deals on the ones he wants to purchase, you sure can reduce your cart abandonment rates with these conversion tactics.

Off-site conversion tactics to reduce cart abandonment

1. Cart recovery web push notifications

Push notifications are emerging as an effective channel of communicating and re-engaging online shoppers – irrespective of the device they are using.

They make it easier for shoppers to opt-in to receive notifications from your store in real-time, without sharing their email address with you. Because of their straight up structure and instant delivery, these push messages are hard to miss – unlike social media and email reminders.

web push notifications cart abandonment

Using web push notifications to recover abandoned carts has proven to bring back sales for online retailers. Another reason why they work effectively is that they don’t require an exiting shopper to have filled the checkout forms – unlike emails and SMS.

abandoned cart recovery 2

The best part about web push notifications is that they are effective at engaging both desktop and mobile shoppers. Try them out with PushOwl today!

But for web push notifications to be effective at recovering carts, you need to craft them well and ensure they reach the shopper before they lose interest in the products. Here are some smart reads to get you started:

2. Cart abandonment recovery emails

Similarly, if the shopper is subscribed or shared his email address with you, don’t forget to follow up with a cart recovery message on that channel too. To sweeten the deal, use the same approach as you do in web push notifications – quickly remind them of what they have left behind, instill a sense of urgency, offer a special discount and include a clear call to action that takes them back to their cart.

The first cart recovery email should be triggered in no more than 24 hours after the cart abandonment. You should also follow this email up with at least two more messages spaced out by two to three days, targeted at re-engaging them with personalized messages.

cart abandonment email


3. Social media retargeting

Most of your shoppers are active on at least two social media platforms for personal and professional purposes. Leverage this to retarget them with smart ads that remind them of their abandoned cart items.

Just like the first two channels, use an ad copy that focuses on converting that specific shopper with a special discount coupon that is time sensitive. Let them know clearly what they could be missing out on to create FOMO!



On-site conversion tactics to reduce cart abandonment

1. Remove browser distractions

First and foremost, it is important to clean up your site on the consumer browser. To be able to do so, you need to extend your site security to the consumer end and shield your site from any malware that gets injected by web apps and extensions such as price comparison using tools like BrandLock.

Doing so also helps ensure brand safety of your retail store. You don’t want unwanted content like video ads from irrelevant pages, adult content, competitor discounts, and other things pop up on your site.

shield cart abandonment


2. Offer chat support

Unlike brick and mortar stores, shoppers can’t call out the salesperson to help them make an informed purchase. A lot many times they abandon the product they like simply because they are not sure if it suits their needs or which size they should be taking.

Implementing on-site tracking, you should identify shoppers spending too much time on a product page. Trigger a conversation with these shoppers using chat support with tools like Tidio, Chatra, and others, before they walk away too confused to make a purchase.


3. Re-engage shoppers with popups

Using a cart abandonment popup is an effective tactic to re-engage a shopper that is about to abandon his cart. You can predict an abandonment by setting up time triggered or exit-intent popups on your product pages, and on your checkout pages using Optimonk, Privy and similar apps.

Leverage these pop-ups to offer a custom discount to these shoppers; an offer they cannot refuse.


4. Optimize your checkout process

About $260 billion are recoverable through checkout optimizations. So take a look at your checkout process and see how you can make it faster or what has been causing cart abandonment. A few good practices to follow here include:

  • Create a sense of urgency in your checkout page copy – like let them know you’re holding onto the products for the next 15 minutes only
  • Include multiple shipping and delivery options
  • Offer multiple payment methods
  • Highlight security and trust seals
  • Offer guest checkout to those in a hurry
  • Simplify the checkout to include only what is important and reduce the form fields
  • Include the option to ‘save for later’
  • Make cart editing easy
  • Remove page distractions and treat them as landing pages with a single conversion goal
  • Use a mobile-friendly design
  • Continually monitor and optimize the checkout process

5. Use product recommendations

There are times when a shopper leaves simply because they could not find the products they were looking for. In some cases, they also get disappointed when the products in their cart run out of stock, resulting in cart abandonment.

In such cases, using product recommendations saves you from losing a sale. Recommend products based on the shopper’s interests, preferences, previous purchases, and browsing behavior. Treat this similar to how a salesperson suggests more products to you in the store.


But on-site conversions can only do so much. If a shopper is still not convinced and wants to leave your site, they will. But fret not, you can still recover your abandoned cart with these smart tactics.

6. Record shopper behavior

Another hack that top-grossing eCommerce stores use is tracking their visitor behavior. It helps them understand their browsing pattern better and identify elements that they tend to engage with the most.

For instance, are they engaging with the banner call to action more or are they scrolling down to view your discounted products section?

You can do this by using smart tools like Hotjar and Lucky Orange. They combine the analytics of how visitors behave on your store by creating heat maps (and much more), enabling you to identify where most of your shoppers are dropping off and optimizing their site experience to reduce cart abandonment.

Save the cart!

Now that you know what you can do on-site and off-site to recover your abandoned carts, it is time to put all the above conversion tactics to work.

But first, look into your retail store’s analytics to understand how many of your site visitors bounce off from the store and from which pages. It is also a good idea to check where these shoppers initially came from, what pages they browsed and what they interacted with the most.