10 Quick Tips For Reducing Cart Abandoment

The facts of online shopping cart abandonment are staggering. Data from Business Insider reports that $4 trillion worth of products will be abandoned in US online shopping carts each year. Furthermore, approximately 70% of all shopping carts are abandoned. If we look at the available data, such as research published by Statista, then we can quickly identify the main causes of abandonment and establish suitable solutions:

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Presented with unexpected costs
The primary reason for abandonment is that customers weren’t aware soon enough of the actual final costs of their order. For service-based transactions such as holidays, flights, SaaS offerings this would typically include transaction costs such as those associated with Ryan Air. For online stores selling physical goods then the most frequent cause of abandonment are shipping costs.

The rate at which you set shipping charges can be of greater importance than the price of the products you sell. The rationale is that customers do not want to think that a retailer is profiting from the provision of a service that the retailer doesn’t provide. From personal experience, shipping costs that exceed £3.99 have a substantial impact on overall conversion rates. However, if you are a retailer using Royal Mail and are VAT registered you will need to charge VAT on the shipping costs. Typically, however, you cannot recover this cost from your shipping purchases as they generally ‘E’ rated.

Free shipping offers historically have performed very well for the retailers we’ve partnered with. The issue, of course, is working this cost into your overall pricing strategy. If your products have significant markup, then you will need to consider at what basket-value you offer free shipping. If margins are small, then consider these pricing strategies to give you a great number of options or consider offering free shipping on certain products.

You could also consider offering free shipping on returns. This would reduce the risk of the order and mitigate any negative perceptions of your shipping costs.

Another step you could take looks at the competitive landscape. If the majority of your competitors are offering free shipping, and they publicise this in the search results via a <title> tag then not only would you be losing potential visitors, but those that to select your website are going to prejudice against any site that doesn’t offer free shipping.

Within your checkout process you could even offer a higher priced, Express service, to make your standard service look more cost-effective.

Another option would be to make it clear within your website’s template how much shipping is and what your free shipping cart value is.

I was just browsing
Very few people, I would suspect, are just surfing with absolutely no desire to buy. If your offer is sufficiently compelling, this should be enough to turn tyre-kickers into customers. If people do add products to their cart and then submit their contact details before confirming their order you send email reminder as AGA Foodhall do:

Aga Food Hall

If this is the user’s first time using the AGA they could even add a voucher code offer valid for anywhere between an hour and a day to complete the transaction.

Found a better price elsewhere
One of the most dangerous situations you can find yourself in is price-discounting for sales volumes. If Amazon, eBay and other marketing channels where price-comparison is a primary feature then this will be the game you will have to play. However, if you’re operating outside of this environment, then other options are open to you.

Spend time building a brand. Of course, this is easier said than done. But you can spend time ‘content marketing’ with the aim of showing your expertise in the products you offer= and could also stretch to more informative product descriptions. If you can build trust through textual means, a slight price increase can be endured by a customer if they feel they are rewarding the retailer for their efforts. This may not work in all industries, but I suggest most.

Decided against buying
Formissimo has an interesting piece of evidence that suggests the abandonment rate increases steadily from Fridays to Sunday for retail stores. We also witness this phenomenon with one of your sister websites where Friday’s conversion rates are a fraction of the rest of the working week.

The same can be said at different stages of the monthly salary payment cycle. Before payday conversion rates fall, and abandonment rates increase as visitors become more price-sensitive. Delays in payment may be an option, but again, adding free shipping at the end of the month for new visitors may work.

You could also change the messaging on your website during these periods to show more aggressive reasons why delaying purchase may not be a good idea.

Website, navigation too complicated & Process, was taking too long
I’ve seen many websites that didn’t have a shopping cart button. Or websites that have had ecommerce functionality bolted on to another CMS so that as you transition through the website the cart option disappears then reappears.

Others ecommerce systems overload consumers with information and options during the checkout process.  Kissmetrics have created a fantastic guide to streamlining the checkout and were a ‘must read’.

Make it easy for people to check out with you.

Website crashed / website timed out
Of course, if your website is unstable then you are likely to lose customers during the checkout process. Consider using an ‘uptime monitor’ from the likes of Pingdom to inform you when your website is down.

Also watch your hisoric server response times in Google’s search console or using your methods.

Excessive payment security checks / concerns about payment security
One of the first features conversion rate optimisation consultants will look for a the ‘secure server’ badges. CrazyEgg has reported on the impact that ‘Trust Seals’ and the like have on conversion rates. Go through your checkout process and look to see how you convey how secure your checkout process is and then remedy any shortfalls.

Similarly, done make your forms so long with the aim of receiving additional security information to validate orders. Find a compromise level when you don’t suffer undue risk, but also don’t unnecessarily lose valid sales.

Delivery options weren’t suitable
Many customers buy items and expect the delivery to take place during work hours. One way to reduce the perception of being inconvenienced by picking up orders from a courier depot, the Royal Mail sorting office or a neighbour is considering your packaging. Many monthly subscription services actively design their products to fit through letterboxes. You could explain that items would be prioritised to this format. You can also choose a courier such as DPD which gives customers SMS notification of the morning of delivery so that your customer can arrange for it to be delivered to a neighbour or delivered on another day. If you explain this during the purchase process, then you could reduce abandonment rates.

Another method is to offer a wide range of delivery options such as Collect+ and other forms of courier lockers so that your customers can retrieve orders at their convenience.

Price presented in a different currency
Showing the wrong currency could be due to international visitors not being able to establish the value of the items in their currency. You could consider many ecommerce store modules to allow customers to toggle pricing or launch separate geo-targeted websites if the market is large enough.

My payment was declined
Ensure that you have correctly configured the payments processor and have the correct security settings. Some systems such as Shopify allow you to take orders and then get a risk profile for you to decide if you would like to take payment.


Most payment gateways, such as SagePay, will also give you the ability to test their systems with ‘test’ transactions. Keep details of these to hand and regularly check.