What Causes Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Posted on Nov 20 2013 - 11:08am by Jason Kane

Shopping Cart

Recently compiled statistics by the Baymard Institute suggest that customers abandon shopping carts online a whopping 67.45 percent of the time (on average, according to over 20 different studies). Fighting against shopping cart abandonment takes some creative solutions, and may even require a business to change marketing and advertising strategies.

Shoppers Visit Many Times

One of the interesting habits of online shopping is that an extraordinary number of shoppers will visit a website multiple times before they actually make a purchase. A recent study suggests that people who make a purchase the first time they visit a site are very rare. However, the rate of purchase does increase for people who visit a site a second time.

The rarity of first-time-visitor purchases means that a business must focus upon improving the user experience for multiple visits and not just the initial arrival at the site.

Reasons for Abandonment

According to research, there are several reasons why people might abandon a shopping cart, and so this means that there isn’t a single solution for fixing such abandonment. Reasons why people might abandon a shopping cart range from surprise at how much the item(s) might cost to the customer locating a better deal on another website.

Sometimes a person might abandon a cart because the process of checking out is too complex while other shoppers might not be pleased with costs that are added too late in the checkout process. Very often, cost enters into the decision to abandon a shopping cart; however, some shoppers have other complaints like website crashing, payment security problems, and a lack of delivery options.

Choosing Free Shipping

A number of complaints regarding shopping cart abandonment revolve around shipping charges and methods. The shipping price usually doesn’t show up on the screen until a customer is well into the checkout process, and those charges may convince someone to buy locally in a brick and mortar store or look elsewhere for better shipping rates.

One method that some retailers use to overcome shopping cart abandonment is to offer free shipping. The cost would be baked into the price shown to the customer and would offer fewer surprises to the buyer during the checkout process. Retailers and online merchants must consider that free shipping isn’t without it’s costs. High initial prices might scare away some customers before they’ve even decided to add an item to their shopping cart.

Offer Incentives for Purchasing

One method a business might use to reduce abandonment is a reward or loyalty program that kicks in with each completed purchase. A loyalty program may be created in a few different ways to improve the likelihood of purchase. One method requires a paid membership from the customer (like the “Amazon Prime” program) and the other is often designed as a frequent-buyer program.

When designing the checkout experience, a business must remain aware that shopping cart abandonment is often a natural part of the buying process. The internet has offered businesses true convenience regarding purchases, but it’s also made researching the best deal a mandatory part of online shopping. A business needs to expect some shopping cart abandonment; however, fighting against a high abandonment rate is possible.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Gianluca

About the Author

Jason Kane is a blogger for Webgistix.com, a leader in eCommerce order fulfillment. When he's not analyzing the latest trends, Jason enjoys supporting the eCommerce world with some online shopping and plenty of online gaming.