shopping cart abandonned

Top 7 Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment (and how to avoid them)

Picture the scene: you’re sat on the sofa, browsing your favourite online store as you binge another episode of the latest must-see show. As you watch, you casually add a few items into your shopping cart but when the time comes to checkout, do you? 

This decision point – which we like to call the ‘Browser to Buyer Precipice’ – is extremely important to retailers. It’s all well and good having lots of people visiting your site, but unless they’re converting, all you actually have…is traffic. And it’s conversions, not traffic, that affect your bottom line. 

To help you navigate the dreaded Browser to Buyer Precipice read on to discover why shoppers abandon shopping carts (also known as ‘baskets’) and what you can do to stop it happening.  



Shopping cart abandonment statistics

When we said shopping cart abandonment is a problem for retailers, we weren’t kidding. Let’s crunch the numbers. The Baymard Institute looked into no less than 41 studies and found just under 70% – that’s a massive seven in 10 shoppers – abandoned their cart before completing their transaction. 

When you shine the spotlight on mobile users, the statistics make for even grimmer reading with almost 86% giving up before checking out. (1) A survey by Barclaycard found that shoppers in the UK abandon baskets worth £30 each month. This equates to over $18 billion in lost sales every year. (2) 

In case you were wondering, the most frequently abandoned item list includes women’s knitwear, leather goods, and women’s lingerie. (3) If we delve deeper into the shopping cart abandonment statistics by sector, the automotive industry is the unfortunate cart abandonment king with 96.88% of people stalling on the final lap when looking to buy a new car. (4) We’re also more likely to walk away from a sale online (41%) than in a physical shop (24%) – most probably due to the absence of human interaction and physical connection to the products online. (3)

Why people abandon their shopping cart

Just browsing

One study found that 34% of visitors abandoned their online shopping cart because they were simply browsing and had no intentions of buying anything. (5) It’s the online equivalent of window shopping…so Microsoft Windows shopping? 

Lack of trust

Would you hand over your hard-earned money to someone you didn’t trust? If not, you’re with the 17% of shoppers who choose to abandon checkout rather than entering their personal or payment details on a site they’re unsure of. (6)

High (or unexpected) shipping costs

Sure, the special offers might entice shoppers in but high shipping costs can most certainly drive them away. 25% of baskets get abandoned due to unexpected shipping costs, and 60% give up if the extra costs are too high. (7)

Too complicated

No one enjoys queuing to pay. When you’re ready to purchase you simply want to pay up and get out. That’s why a complicated online checkout process prompts 87% of shoppers to give up. And, even worse than that, 55% say they’d never return to that website again. (8)

Lack of payment options

Shoppers have preferred ways of paying. If an eCommerce site doesn’t include their favourite amongst the payment options the risk is that they’ll shop elsewhere. 8% of shoppers abandon baskets for this very reason. (6)

Technical issues

We’ve all been there. You’ve selected your items, entered your shipping address, popped in your payment details, and then…nothing happens. When technical problems such as website timeouts or site crashes take hold, your visitors are stuck in limbo unsure if the sale has gone through or if payment has even been taken. Rather than repeat the whole process – and possibly get charged twice – the chances are they’ll simply choose to give up and leave the site.

Lack of customer support

A large proportion of the 34% of visitors that are ‘just browsing’ want to do more research before making a purchase. So if the eCommerce site doesn’t readily provide additional information about the product or service, then the chances are the shoppers will leave the site to find those details elsewhere.

How to Improve Your Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate 

Don’t worry. Having revealed the top seven reasons why online shoppers ditch their shopping carts, we’re not going to leave you hanging. Read on to discover the cart abandonment solutions you can introduce to your eCommerce site to help improve your shopping cart abandonment rate and turn more browsers into buyers.

Be upfront about the total cost

No one likes nasty surprises. So when it comes to payment, shipping, VAT, and any additional costs be upfront early and often throughout the customer journey. This allows the customer to make an informed decision rather than be put on the spot with a final figure at checkout.

Improve the user journey

Anything you can do to reduce friction for shoppers will benefit your brand. After all, happy shoppers spend money. (9) The following suggestions are designed to ease the buying process, lower your checkout abandonment rate, and ensure your customers leave your online store with a smile on their face.

  • Checkout forms: the average form has no less than 15 form fields to complete. (10) Who has time for that? Eliminate all non-essential sections and aim for a maximum of six to eight form fields
  • Make it clear: making things easier for the shopper is the key here so include clear instructions or call to actions. For example, when asking for date of birth provide an example of the required layout
  • Progress bars: if the checkout process is arduous you risk customers losing faith and heading elsewhere. Adding a progress bar puts the customer at ease as they know exactly where they are
  • Pre-fill forms: if the checkout page asks for information the customer has already provided elsewhere (such as their email address or name) pre-fill the forms to save the customer time and effort
  • Give options: if you’re not able to cut down on form fields, make it clear which are optional as some people’s privacy concerns are strong enough to make them abandon the process

It’s good to bear in mind that even the best-optimised checkout process still has an abandonment rate of 20%. (11) So be sure to cut yourself some slack.

Improver buyer trust

In our internet-savvy age, there are little things buyers intuitively look for when assessing a site’s trustworthiness. Luckily for you, these trust signals are relatively quick and easy additions to your eCommerce site. The first is social proof such as user reviews and ratings which 92% of online shoppers look for before making a purchase. (12) 

The second is to prominently display security certification badges on your site. Think of it as the eCommerce equivalent of asking to see someone’s ID before letting them into your home. Adding recognised logos such as ‘PayPal Verified’ and ‘Norton Secured’ increase the likelihood shoppers will trust your site and enter your online store.      

Add a guest checkout option

28% of shoppers choose to give up on making an online purchase if the only checkout option is to create an account. (6) This could be down to lack of time, worries about privacy, or simply that they don’t want to add another mailing list to their bulging inbox. That’s why a ‘Checkout as a guest’ option is worth its weight in conversions.

Send abandoned cart emails

Sometimes the reason for an abandoned cart is out of the shopper’s hands. Maybe they were secretly surfing the web at work (we all do it) but had to shut the browser when your line manager walked over. In cases such as this, a well-timed email can work wonders in prompting the shopper to pick up where they left off. In fact, a timely series of abandoned cart emails has been reported to recover 29% of lost sales. (13)

Offer multiple payment options

The 8% of shoppers who abandon baskets due to lack of payment options might seem like a relatively small figure but it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. 83% of the world’s top 60 grossing eCommerce sites currently offer at least one third party payment option (10) proving that payment variety is the spice of profitability.

Support your customers

As we said earlier, the one thing stopping many browsers from converting to buyers is lack of information. So be sure to provide as many customer support routes as possible to guide them through the process, from a well-stocked FAQ page and helpdesk, to live chat and customer messaging options.

For all your eCommerce needs

For more eCommerce tips and tricks from the Code23 vault, be sure to check out our guides to creating a successful sales funnel and how to ensure your online marketplace is a success. And if you need advice about your abandoned cart strategy or any aspect of your eCommerce or WooCommerce website design and development journey, feel free to get in touch.

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(11) Saleh, Khalid; Shukairy, Ayat (2010)



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