15 Ways to reduce cart abandonment

Abandoned shopping trolley standing in the desert, signifying an abandoned cart – the topic of this blog.

Abandoned shopping carts are quite literally lost sales. To keep your sales figures healthy, it’s important to do everything you can to reduce cart abandonment to an absolute minimum.

What is cart abandonment?

To calculate your cart abandonment rate:

Total number of completed transactions

Total number of transactions initiated by adding an item to the cart

x 100

For example:

50 completed purchases

200 transactions initiated

x 100 = 75%

Why should you reduce your cart abandonment rate?

Every website will experience some cart abandonment. In fact, depending on the study you consult, the average e-commerce checkout abandonment rate varies between 69.8% and 75.6%.

It’s important for retailers to stay aware of their own metrics though, as too high an abandonment rate can be a sign of a bigger problem. This could be an issue with user experience or a less-than-optimal sales funnel. On the other hand, reducing your
cart abandonment rate can dramatically boost your sales.

Why people abandon carts

Because of the way potential customers browse for products – comparing prices, using the cart as a wishlist, getting distracted, etc – you will always have some abandoned carts. The more complicated the purchase process is, and the more the product costs,
the higher the rate is likely to be. Optimising your checkout process therefore becomes even more important if you are selling high-value products or services that require a fair amount of input from the customer.

Whatever you’re selling though, your cart abandonment rate can probably be reduced.

Let’s look at the main reasons carts are abandoned:

A graph showing the reasons for abandonment during checkout on an e-commerce website


Initiatives to reduce cart abandonment

Based on the reasons shown above, there is a lot you can do to improve your checkout completion rate:

  1. Demonstrate excellence:
    When visitors see the quality of your product images and the attention to detail you give your product descriptions (both of which, by the way, also increase conversions), they assume they will receive
    excellent quality service too. Conversely, if your site displays products without images or descriptions, it reduces the confidence and trust a visitor feels in your ability to deliver on your promises.
  2. Give clear direction:
    Help customers easily move through the process with carefully placed, prominent and well labelled call-to-action buttons.
  3. Communicate shipping cost early or offer it for free:
    Don’t surprise your customers by adding on high shipping costs late in the process – they will simply abandon their cart. Find out more about choosing the best shipping mix for your e-commerce business here.
  4. Offer guest checkout:
    Creating an account and remembering yet another password makes the whole process more labour intensive and time-consuming. Encourage your visitors to complete their purchase by letting them easily move
    in and out of your online store.
  5. Shorten the checkout process:
    The faster your customers can get through checkout, the more likely they are to complete their purchase, so:
    • Keep the information they have to fill in to an absolute minimum.
    • Display up-sells, cross-sells and any discounts for specific criteria before they reach check-out, so they don’t leave the process to explore those further.
    • Keep them focussed on checkout by minimising other distractions such as website navigation at that point.
    • Use a step-by-step visual of some kind to show them how close they are to completion.
  6. Display an ongoing cart summary at all times:
    Keep them updated on their order total so they can easily manage any budget they may have.
  7. Show credibility:
    Customers know there is a risk involved in giving you their personal and payment details. So reassure them as much as possible by displaying security badges, along with clear and helpful checkout and payment
    information, all the way through.
  8. Have a customer-centred returns and refund policy:
    When this is prominently displayed, and written in clear and simple language that anyone can understand, customers feel safe in knowing it’s easy to return their purchase should
    they not be satisfied.
  9. Provide targeted payment options:
    Knowing how your target market prefers to pay, and offering them those options, will increase the chances of a successful checkout. Read more about offering the right e-commerce payment methods here.
  10. Incentivise with freebies:
    Encourage customers who perhaps didn’t initially intend to buy (or to buy so much) by offering time-limited discounts or free gifts over a certain total purchase value.
  11. Stay on top of technical issues:
    There’s always the possibility that technology can go wrong, so keep an eye on your analytics and regularly test your checkout process to make sure it’s working smoothly and correctly.
  12. Include user reviews:
    Increase conversions and build credibility by allowing customers to review your products. Consider integrating software like Yotpo to make this very easy for them.
  13. Create a sense of urgency:
    Show limited stock availability and time-sensitive special prices to encourage customers to buy immediately.
  14. Make delivery dates clear:
    Let the customer know when their parcel is likely to arrive, both as they place an item in their shopping cart and during checkout. Tracking options provide even more reassurance, and you may want to consider integrating to SmartFreight to offer this added extra.
  15. Be just a click or call away:
    Show you are available by clearly displaying contact numbers or providing a live chat option,
    so customers know they can quickly get help if they need it.

A tip to find out what works

A/B testing software like Optimizely helps you figure out the best version of your site. Make a change using the simple visual editor, then test its effectiveness as visitors are randomly routed either to Option A or to Option B. Optimizely then calculates the results, and tells you which works better based on stats like cart abandonment rate, amongst other things.

The bottom line…

Cart abandonment rate is a useful indicator of the quality and flow of your site, especially the check-out process. The lower the abandonment rate, the better your site is working for you. To reduce cart abandonment, you need to provide a smooth and transparent customer experience that reduces fear and increases trust in you. Drive it down as far as possible, and your sales figures will automatically rise in response.

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