In this post, we look at some of the best practices retailers can follow to reduce cart abandonment.
Cart, or basket, abandonment is a constant source of frustration for online retailers.
While it’s inevitable that not all customers will go on to complete a purchase, there’s a lot that ecommerce sites can do to reduce cart abandonment.
Table of Contents
About Cart Abandonment
First, let’s define what we mean by cart abandonment. It’s a measure of the percentage of visitors to an ecommerce site that add items to their cart or basket but leave without buying.
We also talk about booking abandonment for people who leave travel sites without buying, and form abandonment for financial sites.
The frustration for retailers is that, by adding items to their cart, customers have expressed a clear interest in their products, but something has stopped them along the way.
The latest stats show that an average of 79.53% of shoppers abandon a site after adding items to their carts.
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How to Reduce Cart Abandonment
There’s a lot retailers can do to reduce abandonment rates, from providing all the information shoppers need, to making purchase easy, whatever the device.
1. Show Clear Calls to Action
Once shoppers add items to their carts, make the next steps clear to them.
Firstly, make it clear that they’ve successfully added the items to their cart. Some sites can be too subtle with this, but I think it pays to be clear.
For example, Reebok displays this message which clearly confirms the products added, and offers next steps for the shopper. The option to head straight to checkout is a useful shortcut too.
This is then followed up with a clear call to action (CTA) on the shopping cart page, which offer two checkout options, and are the most prominent links on the page.
With a nice CTA, shoppers shouldn’t abandon because they’re unsure of what to do next. Like this one:
2. Provide a Choice of Delivery Options
Shipping times and prices can play a big part when customers are deciding whether to buy.
One reason for abandonment is that many sites tend to wait until shoppers head to checkout before they show actual shipping costs.
This means that some customers may add items to find the actual costs, or intend to buy, before being deterred by higher delivery charges.
Choice also matters. Some shoppers want free or low cost delivery, others are more concerned about speed and convenience.
Therefore, sites need to try and provide a mix of delivery options to cater for different customer preferences.
3. Offer Guest Checkout
Making shoppers register and create an account before they enter checkout can be a barrier to purchase.
It’s something that seems like extra effort for shoppers, and for this reason, it can be a point at which customers decide it’s too much hassle to go ahead and complete the purchase.
When it’s not absolutely necessary (some sites, such as grocery, have a stronger case for registration), it makes sense to avoid this barrier and offer guest checkout options instead.
Customers can still create an account during or after checkout, but it removes one potential cause for abandonment.
4. Be Clear About Total Costs
Finding ‘hidden’ costs within checkout is a common reason for abandonment. A Baymard survey found that 21% bailed out because they could see or calculate the total order cost upfront.
For many sites, it’s easy enough to show delivery and other charges on product pages, as customers are deciding to buy.
For sites in the US, delivery charges may vary according to location, and this makes it more difficult to be clear to shoppers.
There are options though, such as displaying a shipping calculator on product pages which allows shoppers to enter a zip code to see costs.
5. Show a Persistent Reminder of Cart Contents
As they go through checkout, customers may have doubts about costs, or perhaps whether they’ve chosen the correct size or product.
Showing a cart summary throughout helps shoppers to see that their order is correct before they finish the checkout, and means they won’t need to leave the checkout to check anything.
Here, Reebok shows total contents and costs. It also helps to show an image for a quick visual reminder.
6. Use Analytics to Monitor Abandonment
Using Google Analytics and other tools, retailers can track abandonment rates and identify patterns or changes in customer behavior.
Data can be analyzed to see where customers are dropping out, or differences in behavior between devices or browsers.
This can help retailers to identify issues which may affect cart abandonment rates, and find fixes which improve checkout conversion.
7. Smooth Checkout Forms
Once in checkout with an intent to purchase, customers can be deterred by checkout forms which can take too long to complete, or may be confusing for users.
Well designed forms help reduce user effort, and make the purchase process look like it’s easier to complete (which is also very important).
Nike’s entire checkout process can be viewed above the fold on desktop, and without much scrolling on mobile.
It looks simple to complete, so users are less likely to be deterred at this stage.
8. Offer Help Where It’s Needed
Some customers will need extra help during checkout, and by offering clear links to customer service, as well as call back options, they can find help where they need it.
It can also be as simple as providing some microcopy and tool tips in the right place.
Some form fields can be trickier than others, so identifying those that are likely to trip users up, and providing explanatory text at the right point can help the customer to continue through the form.
9. Use Conversion Messaging
For shoppers that are wavering, and showing signs of leaving, targeted on-site conversion messages can reduce abandonment.
Shoppers can be shown urgency messaging which tells them how popular the product is, or the discounts they’ll miss out on if they abandon.
10. Offer to Save Cart Contents
Some cart abandonments may just be temporary. People may want to take time to consider a purchase, they may be interrupted, or perhaps want to consult family or friends.
In cases like this, saving cart details for later makes it easy for them to return to complete a purchase, removing the hassle of selecting items and options over again.
11. Offer Security Reassurances
Some shoppers may worry about the security of their payments during checkout so it can help to offer a little reassurance.
In general, brand trust combined with a well-designed and usable website will do much to reassure customers, but there are other options.
In general, a site that looks good and is easy to use will help to build customer trust, but there are other ways to offer reassurance.
Some sites also display security trust marks from brands like Norton and Verisign. This can help to improve customer confidence, especially for visitors who may be unfamiliar with your brand.
12. Provide Multiple Payment Options
Payment options can make or break a purchase, and providing choice enables retailers to appeal to varied customer preferences.
Debit and credit card payments are still popular, but various alternatives have emerged recently. In addition, payment habits vary a lot between different markets.
Providing choice where possible helps, as Reebok does with a choice or card, PayPal or Klarna.
Klarna, and other buy now, pay later options can be effective at overcoming customer objections and reducing abandonments at this stage.
Some payment methods can speed up checkout and make checkout much easier for shoppers.
For example, PayPal and other methods which used saved customer details (Amazon Pay, Visa Checkout etc) only require shoppers to enter an email address and password, enabling them to ski address and payment entry.
For mobile shoppers, methods like Google and Apple Pay can reduce mobile checkout to a few seconds, thanks to Touch or Face ID.
Sometimes, even with a well-designed, super-smooth checkout, and all the information and help they need, shoppers will still abandon.
When this happens, many customers can still be tempted back to checkout using cart / basket abandonment emails or SMS abandonment messages.
How To Reduce Cart Abandonment With SaleCycle Cart Abandonment Expert, Kirsty Metcalf:
“It’s natural for customers to hesitate when browsing online as they may be comparing prices and delivery with other retailers, or simply not ready to purchase right now.
In order to stay ahead of the competition, recovering online sales is extremely important as the visitor has already expressed interest in your brand by entering the website. Calling out USPs, such as free delivery or returns, throughout the journey can be a great way to encourage customers to stay on your site. Pop ups can subtly build confidence in your brand and reinforce why a visitor should choose to purchase from you.
Visitors will often use the shopping cart as a way of saving the items they’re interested in, on average 84% of website visitors add something to their shopping cart but don’t complete their order. For that reason it’s extremely important to send a timely reminder containing a summary of their cart, with an easy route back to the checkout to prevent them from abandoning again.”
Reviewed by Brad Ward
Written by Graham Charlton
— Updated on 30/01/2023