Why is Shopping Cart Abandonment a Problem for Retailers? [infographic]

Imagine walking into a department store and finding the aisles clogged with abandoned shopping carts. The carts are filled with items people picked off the shelves but decided not to buy. That would obviously be a nightmare from the stock person’s perspective. And it would certainly cause the retailer to worry about its long-term prospects, because no one makes money from window shopping. Although it’s not as big of a logistical problem in the world of ecommerce, shopping cart abandonment is a problem for an ecommerce business.

The average rate of ecommerce shopping cart abandonment is nearly 70 percent. That means seven out of every 10 online shoppers build orders they never complete.

What Is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is when an ecommerce shopper adds one or more products to their shopping cart, but does not complete their purchase before leaving the website. 

This is a constant for every ecommerce website in existence. Not every shopper will complete every purchase. Period.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to improve things. As an ecommerce business, your goal should be to get the shopping cart abandonment rate as low as possible.

So Why Exactly is Shopping Cart Abandonment a Problem for Retailers?

At first glance, it’s a problem because it is an indication of lost revenue, or un-realized potential. And in some cases that’s true. But in reality, it’s the RATE / PERCENTAGE of shopping cart abandonment that can indicate if there’s a problem.

As I mentioned above, Every ecommerce website will have cart abandonment. It’s literally impossible to completely eliminate it.

It’s also true that not all shopping cart abandonment is bad.

Sometimes customers add items to a cart simply as a way to save the things they’re interested in. Even if they know they have no intention of making a purchase.  Sometimes people window shop, even though they may not be able to make a purchase at this time, for any number of reasons. 

These scenarios don’t indicate any problem with your site or products. They just represent natural human behavior.

So Why Are Businesses Concerned About Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Because there are those scenarios that DO indicate a problem, as outlined below. And because such a high percentage of ecommerce shopping experiences are abandoned.

Not only is every abandoned cart a lost revenue opportunity, it’s also wasted time and/or money. The money you spend on ads. The effort you put into organic traffic generation. If 70% of that is lost, that’s not great.

Sure, you could just spend more money and create more content… in theory. But it’s often more practical, and better business, to optimize for the traffic you’re already getting.

Let’s make every dollar and minute count, shall we! 

Even a Minor Issue Can Cause a Shopping Cart Abandonment

There are many reasons why online shoppers abandon their carts. The biggest one is that they weren’t committed to buying in the first place. These shoppers may be putting together a wish list for a later date, comparison shopping between different sites, or just daydreaming.

Even without those shoppers who are just browsing, however, many abandoned carts could have been saved and converted into sales.

All it takes is some issue that causes doubt, concern or trouble during the customer’s shopping journey, resulting in an abandoned cart.

A Couple of the Top Reasons to be concerned about Shopping Cart Abandonment

  • You’re losing potential sales
    This is the big, obvious reason to be concerned. A lost sale means lost revenue now, and potential lost future revenue from someone who could have become a long term customer.
  • Indication of a larger problem
    An abandoned cart could indicate deeper problems with your product selection, your pricing, your shipping costs and timing, your trustworthiness and many other things

Most Likely Causes of Shopping Cart Abandonment

  1. Unexpected High Costs

    Typically shipping, taxes and other fees. When a customer adds an item to their cart, unexpected fees are imposed that cause them to reconsider their purchase. Some shoppers may add products to their shopping cart just to see the final price. They are less likely to proceed once they discover the additional expenses.

    Resolution: Provide customers with a complete breakdown of all expenses up front, including shipping charges, applicable taxes, and any extra charges they can anticipate. By requesting the customer’s zip code, these specifics can be displayed on the product description page. Customers are more likely to complete the transaction if they are not as surprised after adding an item.

  2. Difficult Checkout Process

    One of the main causes of payment failure among customers is a drawn-out, complicated checkout process. The user’s ability to complete payment is slowed down and made more challenging by each additional step and form field. Any further steps detract from your user experience since people like straightforward, convenient processes.

    Resolution: Simplify and speed the checkout process by reducing steps, minimizing data entry, and optimizing it. Set up auto-save functionality for when consumers leave their shopping cart with items in it, and whenever possible, auto-fill forms.

  3. Required Account Creation

    It is never a good idea to require account registration or creation in order to add products to a shopping cart. Adding a step disrupts the buying process and will drive some buyers away.

    Resolution: Offer guest checkout as a solution; avoid requiring account creation. If you want to gather emails and other contact information for account nurturing, ask the customer if they would like to receive email updates regarding their purchase and other special offers when they reach the confirmation page after making their purchase.

  4. Pushy Upsell Attempts During the Checkout Process

    One of the most irritating experiences you can give your clients can be upselling while they are in the middle of a transaction. It’s not always bad. But it’s typically bad when your upsell offers aren’t congruent with what the customer is already interested in purchasing. When consumers are making the purchase, obtrusive advertising often causes them to become distracted from their activity. The use of pop-ups may also cause customers to leave the site and visit others in order to have an uninterrupted and speedy experience.

    Resolution: If you are going to offer upsells during checkout, make sure they are closely related to the products already in cart.

  5. Unclear Total Costs

    Not surprisingly, online customers heavily consider price. Often times customers are not given all pricing information, such as taxes and delivery costs, when they shop. To calculate the final cost of their order, many customers add things to their shopping carts.

    Resolution: Provide complete pricing information to customers before they add products to their shopping carts. If customers know the final cost before moving on to this phase, they are more inclined to do so.

  6. Delivery Delays and Few Shipping Options

    Shopping online typically includes delivery. Customers demand on-time, relatively quick delivery and shipping alternatives that meet their requirements.

    Resolution: Provide customers with a range of delivery choices and the chance to modify shipment information. Allow customers to customize delivery schedules and select their preferred delivery service. And offer options that are as fast as possible.

  7. Concerns About Security

    Customers anticipate that payments will be processed securely and that credit card information and other financial and personal information will be stored safely.

    Resolution: Adhere to PCI compliance standards to securely store credit card information and verify transactions. Or even better, don’t store cc information at all. Utilize an effective fraud detection and prevention solution for your online store. Customers can be assured that their information is secure by seeing trust seals and signals throughout the process. But don’t overdo the trust badges!

  8. Lower prices on other website

    Consumers in the modern era of online shopping are very research-driven. They look around on several websites and evaluate pricing before making purchases online. Due to their persistent search for a lower price up until the very last second of their transaction, better pricing on other sites will therefore tend to draw consumers away from your store.

    Resolution: I don’t recommend trying to win the pricing war. It’s a race to the bottom. Instead, focus on how you can add value. Offer things like white glove service and free shipping along with competitive pricing.

  9. Website Performance Problems

    As expected, users will seek a better user experience when they encounter major performance issues like crashes and failures. Minor performance issues won’t necessarily turn away clients, but they will still have an impact on their experience and should be avoided. Major issues would include things like excessive page load times and complete downtime. 

    Resolution: Measure the load times, downtime, and responsiveness of your checkout and shopping cart performance with regular audits. Recognize issues and weak places, and enhance your shopping cart’s functionality as necessary for customers.

  10. Insufficient Payment Methods

    Online shoppers desire the ease of utilizing their preferred payment option. Your clients are more likely to abandon cart if they have fewer options. Customers may decide to depart if they add things to their cart only to discover they cannot purchase using their preferred payment method.

    Resolution: Provide as many payment options as you can to customers as a solution. Major payment methods should be prioritized first, then expanded as you go because adding options costs money. Offer MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal, and when practical, consider adding other specialized payment choices.

  11. Bad Return Policy

    After adding things to their cart, customers frequently review details on the warranty and return policies of your store. Customers will depart and look for alternative options if there is a lax return policy. They might return, but they might discover a better return policy somewhere else.

    Resolution: Offer clients a fair return policy and a straightforward customer service system to make this possible. To ensure that buyers feel secure completing the purchase, clearly link to the return policy early in the process.

  12. Product Research

    Online shoppers who are merely browsing and doing product research sometimes add goods to their shopping carts before subsequently abandoning them. Most frequently, this occurs because clients do not have enough knowledge of the sale before starting the checkout procedure.

    Resolution: It’s crucial to note that while browsing-related cart abandonment cannot be completely eliminated, it can be lessened by providing customers with product and service information prior to their adding products to their carts. Since there is no longer a requirement to start the checkout process to obtain these details, abandonment is decreased.

  13. Inadequate Mobile Experience

    With mobile accounting for more than 50% of all e-commerce purchases, businesses who don’t have sufficient mobile designs aren’t able to satisfy the majority of their customers.

    Resolution: Give your e-commerce store’s mobile design top priority. Make a responsive design that works on desktop and mobile devices. Standardize your checkout and shopping cart designs across all device types to give users a consistent buying experience.

  14. Coupon Code Availability

    This one can go both ways. Sometimes, the fact that you offer a coupon code field encourages customers to leave your site and go hunting for a coupon code. Many will not return. Other times, customers may expect a coupon code but not see any option for it. This can also cause abandonment.

    Resolution: In my experience, having a coupon code option actually causes more abandonments… unless it’s done more strategically. Like offering discounts that only work via links. These are links that you may present in a popup or in an email.

  15. Showing Prices in a Non-local Currency

    Pricing is frequently provided based on your e-commerce store’s primary line of business. However, many e-commerce businesses may operate abroad and cater to a much larger clientele. Customers are more likely to shop at another establishment when prices aren’t shown in their own currency.

    Use a plugin that supports multi-currency based on the customer’s location as a solution. The customer’s IP address can be used to pinpoint where they are. Give them the choice to choose an other currency as well.

The Unavoidable Truth

Sometimes customers just leave, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s possible that they lost interest in the product, forgot the browser tab was open, or practiced some personal financial restraint.

We can’t always comprehend and predict why customers suddenly change their minds. eCommerce is moving far more quickly now than it was even 10 years ago, which undoubtedly has an impact. Another factor is that there is now an overwhelming amount of choice available to consumers.

A strong strategy to address this issue is to regularly survey your clients. Find out which items they like, what they appreciate about them, and what they think should be improved. Customers who value your products and services are likely to give thoughtful responses because they understand that their feedback can be used to improve the products and services you offer.


A brick-and-mortar retailer wouldn’t want to leave broken windows or filthy floors unaddressed. Likewise, ecommerce businesses don’t want their websites to give shoppers any reason to go somewhere else.

The good news is that it’s easy to avoid many of the most common reasons why online shoppers abandon their shopping carts. Whether customers leave a website over poor design, confusing navigation, or low responsiveness, ecommerce businesses can find a solution. With a few optimizations, ecommerce businesses can reduce the rate of visitors abandoning their carts and convert more of them into customers.

The shopping cart abandonment infographic below (provided by Performance Card Service) lays out some of the most common reasons visitors leave ecommerce websites and some tips that ecommerce retailers can use to help convince them to stay.


This infographic was created by Performance Card Service (http://performancecardservice.com/)

What is shopping cart abandonment rate?

The percentage of online users who add things to their shopping carts on a website but then leave the page without making a purchase.

How is shopping cart abandonment rate calculated?

The number of successfully completed purchases is divided by the total number of shopping carts that customers have created to arrive at the shopping cart abandonment rate. To obtain a percentage, subtract this amount from 1 and multiply the result by 100.

What’s a good shopping cart abandonment rate?

A decent percentage for shopping cart abandonment is between 60 and 70 percent. Anything under 70% is better than average. Anything under 60% is considered quite good.

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