Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment is a problem that every eCommerce retailer will face. It’s one of the biggest problems that an online store can have and in a lot of cases, the majority of ‘Add to Carts’ on a website will lead to an abandonment.

Optimizing your site and streamlining your processes are vital for combatting this problem and there are many deciding factors that can contribute to it. While a lot of people are in the ‘just looking’ stage and this does contribute a lot to abandoned shopping carts, the rest of the reasons lie with you and your website, so they can be corrected accordingly.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping Cart Abandonment Reasons

Shopping cart abandonment is massive.

In fact, the abandonment rate is about 70% for all shopping carts online annually.

The thing is, a lot of the issues that cause shopping cart abandonment can actually be fixed on the website itself. Here are a few common reasons that cause abandoned carts:

  • User stops on the checkout page because only at that moment are shipping costs shown
  • User stops at the checkout page because the user realizes that they will receive the product too late
  • User looks for their ideal payment method, but you don’t offer it
  • Order form is too long and asking for too much information

In short, the possibilities are many, but almost all of them have something to do with your website. With the exception of people who are just browsing, virtually every other reason can be attributed to some aspect of your site whether it be the structure, functions, pricing, or systems in place.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest reasons that cause abandoned shopping carts:

Payment Methods

The absence of the type of payment desired by the user is a strong deterrent for online purchases. Some countries are still struggling to have full confidence in transactions on the internet as well and still prefer cash payments.

In most cases, the customer approaches the purchase with a basis of distrust because of the lack of physical presence and interaction. There’s a big difference when you are able to see and touch something in comparison to only seeing a picture on a website.

While eCommerce sales are skyrocketing and trust is increasing, not having the consumers preferred payment method is a major cause for why customers abandon shopping carts.

At the very least, you should accept PayPal on your website. If you have a PayPal Business Account, you can accept both PayPal Payments and credit/debit card payments.

You could also integrate or Stripe on your website to handle card payments and you can easily implement other forms of payments such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and cryptocurrency if you’re using Shopify or WordPress.

Shipping Costs

Many customers add products to the cart only to see how much they will pay once the shipping costs have been counted. At that point, if the final price is not to their liking, the cart will be abandoned.

In this regard, it is good to keep in mind that high shipping costs can be perceived by the customer as a “fraud”, especially if accompanied by very low selling prices, commonly seen with the dreaded Free + Shipping method that consumers loathe.

Amazon and many other great eCommerce platforms understand well the reaction of users to excessive shipping costs and try to minimize them, while perhaps slightly raising the cost of products sold to offset it.

Even if the final price paid by the user could be very similar, it will be the perception of fairness of the price to be significantly different. In fact, free shipping matters so much to consumers that it has a deep psychological effect on them. This is because of two factors:

The consumer is already paying for your product, why would they want to pay extra to receive it?

The word ‘Free

Look at these prices below and see which one looks more appealing to you:

$24 + $5 Shipping

$29 + Free Shipping

Same prices, yet very different perceptions.

Bad Checkout Procedure

A payment path that is too long is dispersive and potentially frustrating for the customer. In this regard, it is strongly advised not to request too much information during the checkout process. Only ask for the information that is necessary for you to complete the order and abide by the applicable local laws. Shopping cart optimization is the key here.

Make sure that all the fields are clearly labeled and instructions are provided if necessary. You do not want your visitors to have to guess what to do on your checkout page. This is literally the last step they have to complete before payment, so don’t complicate it.

It’s perfectly fine to add more options to your checkout page such as additional extras, faster shipping, gift wrapping, and other services at an additional cost, but try not to clutter the page and have too many things going on.

Loading Times

A website can be more or less slow in relation to many factors that act both at the hardware level (CPU, RAM) and at the software level (cache management, source code cleaning, asynchronous loading of Javascript and CSS).

In short, problems with loading times can either be at the websites end or at the user’s end.

Hardly anyone who has encountered these problems will come back to visit and purchase from this website. For this reason, the speed of the site is becoming an increasingly important factor, both for the user experience and to improve their organic ranking on Google.

Make sure that your website is properly optimized for speed. You can easily do this yourself if you’re using WordPress and Shopify has some apps as well but you may need to hire a developer for other types of less user-friendly platforms in regards to coding and editing files.

Shipping Times

Unlike purchases in traditional stores, online transactions are almost never accompanied by the instant delivery of the product.

Every seller should consider that there are at least two different user segments and should do everything possible to satisfy them both.

The first type consists of those who want the product at all costs as soon as possible, regardless of shipping fees. These users will abandon the cart when they realize that a 24-hour or 48-hour delivery service is not provided by the seller.

The second type is represented by users who do not need the goods immediately and are also willing to wait longer while saving on shipping costs. They will abandon the checkout if they’re faced with high shipping costs, even if justified by express delivery.

If you can manage this with what you sell and the couriers available to you, offer multiple delivery options for your customers.

You can offer standard shipping and an express option at extra cost so the buyer can choose what they want. This way, you cater to both crowds and could also increase your sales as a result.

Compulsory Registration

Compulsory registration is another of those aspects that can do more harm than good to an eCommerce website. The customer, in the extreme case, can perceive the obligation to register on a site as a possible future threat of unwelcome advertising in their inbox.

While in the classic case simply does not appreciate having to fill out long forms when they really just want to buy from you.

There are plenty of ways to get more email subscribers, and compulsory registration is one of the most annoying methods. Your website’s visitors should always have the options to register and pay or checkout as a guest.

If you want, you can advertise that registered members can get access to discount codes and exclusive promotions, so the incentive and choice is there for those who want to partake.

Setting A Reminder

One of the most frequent reasons for abandoning carts is structural and is linked to users who place the products in the shopping cart even if they do not have an immediate intent to purchase.

Many people just add the product to the cart as a reminder, because at that time they can not buy it (ex: they are on a smartphone or do not have credit card information) and therefore can not complete the checkout immediately.

Given the structural nature of this, the problem cannot be definitively solved. However, there are measures that allow you to greatly increase the possibility that users remember, at a later time, to buy from the same site without going through other competitors.

Among the many existing possibilities, it should be considered the use of an automatic reminder mail for users who start the checkout and, after entering their email address, abandon it before making the payment.

Another way to work around this could be to implement a Wishlist feature on your website. People can add products they like to their shopping cart which serves as a list of things they want in future.

This list can be emailed to the person periodically to remind them and they can make the purchase when they are ready. Once again, Shopify and WordPress make implementing this type of feature very easy.


With some experienced users, the payment procedure is preceded by a more or less complex phase of comparing the different eCommerce retailers that sell the same product.

We often prefer to compare the prices of the products after having placed them in the shopping cart and not on the product page, in order to have a clear picture also of any additional costs or add-ons.

In the event that the cart is abandoned for this kind of motivation, being able to get the user back to your site is very challenging if they haven’t entered in their email address or you have a retargeting campaign set up.

Always try to capture the visitors email addresses as they add a product to the cart, because without it, you can’t send them abandoned cart reminder emails. Shopify and WordPress can have features you can implement which asks the user to input their email address the moment they first add a product to their cart.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Solutions

It is necessary to be precise and clear with the information on your website as well as the conditions of sale. For example, making the text and notices on your site very concise, particularly when outlining the conditions of the sale, refunds, returns, delivery, etc.

Buyer confusion is a major cause for shopping cart abandonment and the process should be as quick and easy as possible with little for the buyer to think about.

First, we will focus on the single most important thing you can do after someone has abandoned their shopping cart:

Send Out Abandoned Cart Emails

These are emails that are automatically sent to the user who added something to their shopping cart on your website but abandoned it for whatever reason.

The only way to send these emails is if the user has entered in their email address at some point after adding an item to their cart. Here are some things you can try doing in your abandoned cart emails to try and get the person back:

  • Invite them to complete the order without paying the shipping costs
  • Offer a coupon code if they make their purchase soon
  • Offer another product as a gift or heavily reduced – Great for the physical stock that isn’t selling much

If abandonment is a serious problem on your website then these types of offers can recover a significant percentage of abandoned carts. If they don’t, then there’s a good chance that a different element of your website or processes is the main issue and needs tweaking such as the price or shipping times.

Live Chat System

In recent years it has been proven several times how the addition of this innovative method of contact has increased sales. You may notice that some of the biggest players in your niche offer an opportunity to chat in real time with a representative on the website.

It matters little if many users will not need to use it to request information, because its function is to reassure visitors and help drive the sale, greatly facilitating the completion of the checkout procedure.

It must be considered then that the ability to talk to customer service, by phone or via Skype and the provision of an online chat system are all examples of tools that can reduce cart abandonment, as they can answer the potential buyer’s objections when they are ready to purchase.

If you’re unable to have someone on the live chat system for 24-hours a day and your business has international customers that would warrant the need for this, then you could look into chatbots for eCommerce as a solution.

Shipping Costs

This is a pain point for many eCommerce consumers.

You find a website, like their products, browse around for a while, add some items to your cart, and you’re now ready to buy.

You can see on the shopping cart page how much the total amount is and you’re happy with it.

Next, you go to the checkout page and are shown additional shipping fees which mark up the price you just thought you were going to pay.

How to solve this problem?

First of all, it is good to clarify immediately, with transparency, what the shipping costs for the user will amount to before they get to the payment page. This can either be done on the product pages or on the shopping cart page.

Many times have people put a couple of products in the cart enthusiastically because compared to another store they’ve saved some money, only to arrive at the end of the purchase process and realize that the shipment eliminated any possible savings.

It is not pleasant to be on the point of buying, having already entered all the data relating to the purchase, and then having to re-evaluate everything all over again because the shipping costs had not been shown before.

What you could also do, is place a minimum value threshold on the cart in order to get free shipping.

For Example:

How many times have you found yourself reading phrases like: “Free shipping on orders over 30 dollars!”.

The psychology that consumers have can be quite peculiar too.

You could offer a product for $25 and when someone gets the checkout page, they have to pay an extra $5 in shipping when they order, so the total amount is $30.

Seeing that extra $5 for shipping could be a deal breaker and make the user leave your website.

But, if that same exact product was $30, but shipping was free, the user could be far more inclined to make the purchase.

The total amount the user has to pay in the end is the exact same; $30.

The impact that both situations have on the consumer is very different.

Regardless that the price is the same, they are paying “more” money in the first example and getting something for “free” in the other example.

You could try this strategy in order to mitigate the cost of shipping, as it could cost you more money to ship something on a lower priced product than a higher one. Depending on what you sell, of course.

Another strategy is to build the cost of your shipping into the retail price of the product.

This means that instead of selling an item for $7 + $2 in shipping, for example, you just charge $9 for the item and offer free shipping.

Your products may be slightly more expensive on face value than your competitors, but you could be the only one offering free shipping at these prices, so you are actually the better option for the consumer.

The Buying Process

If you notice that many of your potential customers put the products in the cart and then quickly leave your website on the cart or checkout page, perhaps the problem is to be found in this point.

Are you sure this process is easy for every user, even the most inexperienced on the Internet? This is a point where you have to concentrate a lot of your attention: it’s the stage where the potential customer gives you their money and you make a sale.

Losing conversions at this stage is much more painful than at any other stage in the process. But at the same time, paradoxically, it is easier to find a solution.

The first thing to do is to allow purchases without creating an account.

Try now to think of the path of the user, who comes to the final stage of the purchase and is ready to hand over their money.

Now, they’re forced to go through some sign-up process to create an account on your website!

They have to enter all these details, think of a username, password, perhaps a secret question and answer, receive an email, confirm their email, return to your website when really, they just want to give you their money and have their product sent!

Offer your website’s users two options:

  • Create an Account
  • Checkout as Guest

Make it a distinguishable choice. You can state that by creating an account that the customer will receive exclusive promotions in the future that are “members only”.

Someone may just want to buy something from you just this one time. They want this to be a simple business transaction with minimal hassle. They want what you have (product), and they have what you want (money). Both parties are happy to exchange the product for the money, so why not simplify it?


Not everyone uses the exact same payment method.

Some people prefer credit/debit cards while others may prefer PayPal or eCheque.

This will depend on what you sell, but you can cover your bases here and offer as many payment methods as possible.

Obviously, some people won’t feel comfortable if your store only offers cryptocurrency as a payment method. But, accepting crypto in addition to cards and PayPal could put them at ease.

You could go a step further too, and offer a whole suite of payment methods.
Shopify and WordPress make it easy for you to integrate many options such as credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, cryptocurrency, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, JCB, Diners, American Express, etc.

In addition, you must make sure that people on your website feel safe purchasing from you.

Let them know that their personal data is secure, either because you don’t keep certain pieces of information, have an SSL certificate, payments are taken on your processors website, etc.

An SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer) allows you to provide a secure connection and to encrypt credit card and personal information. It’s actually a legal requirement to have one if people pay on your website.


You probably already know, exclusive discounts and promotions to capture the attention of people who arrive on eCommerce websites.

A lot of internet users are becoming savvier and actually expect eCommerce websites to offer them some sort of discount before they complete the purchase.

Offers can also create word of mouth between consumers who you otherwise may not have reached. That’s why it’s important for you to place the offers that users can access in your online store.

You may have noticed that a lot of eCommerce websites will put a big banner at the top of their homepage advertising what promotions they currently have.

Entering a site and immediately noticing the presence of promotions attracts curiosity more than anything else and it is important to give the right visibility to every aspect can bring a considerable increase in the conversion rate.

Which offers have the most impact on the user?

Coupon codes are the most common and are extremely effective. You can display a site-wide coupon code that everyone can see, or you can have a newsletter subscription pop up where users have to enter their email in exchange for a coupon code. The latter is better, as you can build your email list for future email marketing promotions.

Also, try to play on scarcity as well.

How many times have you seen “while stocks last” and you thought you had to move in order to access the discount before everyone else did? How many times have you seen discounts or promotions online with a countdown timer?

These types of promotions can push sales now because the visitor has to do something now or otherwise miss out. This can also reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase your conversion rate as people are acting fast and not second-guessing themselves.