High Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate: Causes and Potential Solutions

Author's avatar Analytics Feb 10, 2022 11 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    Did you know the global average shopping cart abandonment in 2021 was 70.42%?

    If you have an ecommerce business, there is a good chance you are losing sales (and likely a large number of sales) due to cart and checkout abandonment. 

    The good news is that you can do some simple things to get back some of this abandoned revenue. 

    In this post, we’re taking a closer look at some of the top shopping cart abandonment reasons and how you can address them. 


    What is Shopping Cart Abandonment? 

    Shopping cart abandonment is when a visitor is on your website, adds something to their cart, and then leaves. 

    To calculate your shopping cart abandonment rate, you need to divide the total number of users who add an item to their cart by the total number of successful purchases. 

    Shopping Cart Abandonment vs Checkout Abandonment: What’s the Difference?

    While shopping cart abandonment happens once someone leaves something in their cart, checkout abandonment is when a visitor starts the checkout process and then leaves the site.

    Both shopping cart abandonment and checkout abandonment indicate higher buying intent than someone who just lands on your website.  But, checkout abandonment is even higher buyer intent since the visitor started the process of buying the thing or things. 

    Related: 9 Abandoned Cart Email Tips to Win Back Your Customers

    Understanding the Checkout Process

    While it might only take 30 seconds or so to checkout, there are actually a lot of things that need to happen in order to buy something on an eCommerce site. 

    Here is an example to illustrate this. 

    Let’s say you have a Shopify store selling luxury sneakers. In order to buy a pair of sneakers, the following needs to happen.

    • A visitor lands on your website. 
    • They add a pair of sneakers to their cart. 
    • Go to the checkout page. 
    • Add their shipping details/preferences. 
    • Add their billing/checkout details. 
    • Process the credit card. 
    • Send the visitor to the order confirmation page. 
    • Send an order confirmation email. 

    During each of these steps, there are many reasons why a visitor can abandon their cart. Some of the most common ones are high shipping costs, unnecessary friction during the checkout process (like having to create a new user account), or a confusing checkout UX. 

    Common reasons buyers abandon their shopping carts

    And one of the ways to identify these issues early on is to monitor them closely. That’s where Databox eCommerce dashboards come in.

    Top Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment 

    After surveying almost 50 eCommerce businesses, we have identified the following reasons why buyers abandon their shopping carts.

    1. New account creation
    2. Unexpected costs
    3. Failing to display important shipping details
    4. Obscuring total costs
    5. Confusing site UX
    6. Lack of convenient checkout options

    We will also discuss how you can address these issues through the use of shopping cart abandonment campaigns, retargeting, better welcome campaigns, and more.  

    how do you solve abandoned shopping cart problems

    Let’s dive in.

    1. New account creation 

    By far, one of the biggest reasons why visitors abandon the checkout process is having to create a new account or log into their existing account. 

    “The primary reason I believe is having to create a new user account, and the best way to eliminate this is to allow guest check out,” says Jignesh Gohel of Olbuz Private Limited. “It will provide a faster checkout experience and speed up the purchase process.”

    Lisa Chu of Black n Bianco says, “In my experience, the number one reason buyers abandon their carts is that they have to register an account to purchase our products. We get dozens of abandoned carts per day and we started analyzing the data. We found that customers were more likely to purchase our products if they are able to have a one-page checkout without having to register an account. So we started accepting PayPal as that is a very simple and safe checkout process and we allowed the ability for our customers to checkout as a guest.”

    Benjamin Stenson of Norsemen Home Remodeling adds, “I conducted a survey to narrow down the primary reason digital buyers abandon their carts. The most voted answer was because they were being forced to create an account on my eCommerce site. My eCommerce site did not have a guest login option. I found it better to maintain customer relationships with a normal account.

    However, I realized how not providing this option backfired. Many people came and shopped online but never went through with it. I realized I needed to add guest login back for a better user experience. Once it was reintroduced, the cart abandonment rate decreased, and sales increased. My strategy changed, as I decided to give customers an option to create an account later. They were more open to signing up after finalizing their order.”

    Adding the ability to accept guest checkout will help fix this common problem. However, there are some types of products/businesses where it makes sense to force people to create new accounts. 

    For example, Leanna Serras of FragranceX says, “We ask new customers to create an account because we want to welcome them to our online community. However, sometimes this extra step can put them off their purchase. According to our research, some feel that it’s extra work, some don’t want to share their personal information, and some don’t want to be flooded with marketing emails. To get around this problem we’re offering customers the chance to sign in with Facebook or Google as an alternative. This has reduced our shopping cart abandonment rate by 17%.”

    2. Unexpected costs 

    The other top reason why people abandon their carts are high, unexpected costs. This is most often tied to high shipping costs. 

    “A very common reason for cart abandonment is unexpected costs being introduced at the checkout stage (e.g. tax and delivery costs),” says Matt Hughes of This Digital. “To avoid this, we recommend including these costs on the product pages. For example, displaying prices with tax included and adding a section for estimated delivery cost.”

    Danish Maniyar of DigiMaze Marketing says, “As per the analysis done, one of the major reasons was the shipping costs. Around 56-59% of buyers abandon their carts because of the extra cost, taxes, and other fees. The second was the complicated checkout process. To address this problem, we tried to convince our client and asked him to offer free shipping.”

    Angus Chang of Lupilon adds, “As an eCommerce shop owner, I believe that the biggest reason for buyers to leave shopping carts is the high shipping costs and hidden charges. Online shoppers prefer to buy from eCommerce platforms that offer free shipping. Customers also often abandon their shopping carts because of hidden charges such as taxes or required complementary items. Often, these costs immediately annoy and irritate consumers, causing them to remorse their purchases. We recently introduced free shipping to our e-commerce site, which has reduced the number of shoppers leaving their shopping carts.”

    3. Failing to display important shipping details 

    Shipping costs aren’t the only thing you need to display at checkout. You should also display shipping estimates and delivery details. This will not only cut down on cart abandonment but will also improve customer experience since you’ll have fewer customers reaching out to customer service with shipping-related questions. 

    “I’ve worked with clients who do the popular trend of advertising on Instagram, shipping stuff from far away, not offering a delivery date, and as a result see high cart abandonments,” says Trenton Erker of Seattle PPC Agency. “You can see the people search and search for the date, go back, go forward, and email the company looking for the estimated arrival date. The fix was suggesting they spend the money and time to figure out how to at least give a time range like 2-3 weeks.”

    4. Obscuring total costs 

    If you have higher costs, you might be tempted to hide them.  This usually backfires and leads to even more checkout abandonment. 

    “The primary reason for digital buyers to abandon their carts is the inability to create a total cost of the product upfront,” says Ghosia Hytry of SpaceLift.“As our product cost depends on multiple variables, so it cannot be fixed. It depends on the type of service the user requires. Often, the user does not know what plan he needs, so they leave to do their research. They also ask us via live chat, but then often, they do not have their own requirements. And they left again to do research. We are creating educational content to teach our audience how to find out the best plan for their applications, and how the software pricing works.”

    5. Confusing site UX 

    Another reason why you have high cart abandonment is a confusing site and especially checkout experience. 

    For example, Sasha Matviienko of Viien says, “Through experimentation, our Analytics team found that the main reason for cart abandonment was a poor User Experience. Once we decreased the number of steps consumers need to take in order to make a purchase, we saw a Conversion Rate increase, while the Abandonment Rate went down 20%”

    Related: How Experts Measure Website Redesign Success

    6. Lack of convenient checkout options 

    The payment gateways you integrate with (or lack thereof) and the checkout options you have also play a major factor in how likely someone is to buy from your site. 

    “One reason buyers abandon their online carts is the lack of convenient payment options,” says Jasmine Hippe of Single Grain. “Traditional card payment requires the customer to fill in many fields and when an error occurs, such as the payment portal rejecting the shopper’s billing address, the shopper may leave the site and shop where they know they can easily checkout. Include convenient checkout options that shoppers may already be using, like Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Shop Pay, or Square Pay. This can cut down on the total time it takes for shoppers to checkout.”


    Track and Measure Shopping Cart Abandonment Metrics with Databox 

    You can’t improve your shopping cart and checkout abandonment rates if you aren’t regularly measuring and monitoring them. 

    This is why using ecommerce reporting software, can be beneficial. With Databox, you can visualize your most important KPIs in one place and build custom ecommerce dashboards and reports in just a few clicks.

    Connecting your Shopify, Google Analytics, Stripe, and related accounts in Databox takes seconds. See it for yourself by signing up for free today.

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    Article by
    Jessica Malnik

    Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.

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