Shopping Cart Abandonment: What it is and 3 ways to avoid it

Industry research tells us that on average, 65.23% of all shoppers abandon their shopping cart and/or your website, before they complete the checkout process. When shoppers do this, we refer to it as “shopping cart abandonment”. In the UK alone, shopping cart abandonment cost retailers over £1 billion in sales in 2011. So how do over 65% of shoppers go from adding items to their cart, to leaving your website completely, without making a purchase? There are a number of factors that can cause a shopper to abandon their purchase. I’ve listed the top 3 below, along with some tips on how to prevent your online store from becoming just another statistic!

1. There are too many steps to the checkout

Have you ever had to undergo a really complicated bureaucratic process like changing your surname after getting married or setting up a will or Power of Attorney? These tasks all involve a lot of steps that draw the process out and makes you want to ditch the whole process entirely.

Shoppers feel the same way when they have to jump through hoops to buy something from you. Therefore, it’s important that you keep your checkout process as simple as possible. For every step of the checkout process, you can lose a certain percentage of your buyers. For this reason, keeping the number of steps required to purchase an item to a minimum is crucial.

For example, on the wildly successful shoes and accessory website, ShoeBuy.com, there are just two steps between me adding my item to the shopping cart and me entering my credit card details to finalize the purchase. I can also either log in to my existing account, create a user account or checkout as a guest and not register at all. This is optimal because it means the shopper hands over their credit card as soon as possible, confirming the transaction.

Related post: 5 Steps to an Effective Checkout Process

2. Forcing shoppers to register an account before they can purchase

I have touched on this briefly, but it deserves its own bullet point because it’s one of the single most rapid causes of shopping cart abandonment. Creating an account prior to purchase is a huge obstacle for shoppers and it’s something that you should try to avoid.

While some shoppers will want to ‘join’ your website and create an account, others simply want to buy their item and leave. If that’s the case, they should not have to create an account with a username and password.

Allowing an “express” or “guest” checkout where shoppers simply enter their credit card details and shipping address is best.

3. High shipping costs

A well known tactic on eBay and other online marketplaces is to reduce auction reserve or Buy It Now prices and increase the shipping costs to compensate. eBay buyers cottoned-on to this tactic and now, high shipping costs are seen by some as tricky and misleading. Therefore, you should keep your shipping costs honest. Where possible, you should display shipping costs before the buyer gets to the shopping cart. Header and footer links are where shoppers go to find shipping information, so ensure you have links to a shipping information page there.

If you really want to please your shoppers, copy e-commerce success stories like ASOS.com and Endless.com who are taking the online retail world by storm with annual sales surpassing the £100 million pound mark. Both of these sites offer free shipping on all items and their customers love it! While eBay is all about free shipping, there are several points you have to consider as a seller. Check out this recent TWF community discussion about free shipping.

If free shipping doesn’t work for you, that’s OK. Instead, you may wish to consider fixed price shipping on all items in your store. For example, you might offer £3 shipping on all items. Buyers will appreciate you keeping things simple and if you advertise this fixed price on your home page, or at the top of your listings, it will prevent them from having to search around for shipping information.

Does your website commit any of these faux pas? Share your comments below.

Alice Delore is an education specialist for SaleHoo.com, an online community of over 95,000 online sellers and retailers. Their product range consists...
  • A
  • April 15th, 2012
You've hit the nail on the head, so to speak!
I have many times left a shop online for all the reasons above. You have to supply your email when you have added items to your basket and then register! That's when I am off and leave my goods. Then to many things to go through to get to buy one item really gets to me. Again I am off! But the biggest reason I have left the online shop is, POSTAGE!!! It drives me crazy. I went onto Visaprint for one item as they were selling it very cheap. I did register for that reason only to find the postage was double then the item was selling for! I again left and didn't buy.

You have made very good points here.
  • A
  • April 17th, 2012
Hi Ann, thanks for your feedback. Interesting to hear your experience with Vistaprint - I have heard of others who have had the same experience.

You might get a giggle out of the video on this page, I know I did: http://seewhy.com/blog/2011/11/10/online-checkout-user-experience-in-real-life/

One of my favorite pastimes is bargain shopping, so I'm usually on the lookout while I'm out and about. I often make use of https://alitools.io/en. When you utilize our service, you'll always know which retailers are currently offering the best deals.

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