9 Ways To Decrease Shopping Cart Abandonment On Your eCommerce Website

by 37 08/14/2012

Any business selling online should learn how to optimize their shopping carts so that as many customers as possible will go through with their purchases.

According to a computation on Baymard.com the average abandonment rate for online shopping carts is roughly 65.23% – an overwhelming majority.

So what can business owners do to ensure that their customers end up checking out? These nine tips are a good way to start:

1 – Provide free or flat shipping – and make it visible

According to a Forrester study, 44% of online customers abandon their shopping carts because of high shipping costs. In the same vein, 22% abandon the carts because the seller did not mention shipping costs at all. A similar study from E-tailing Group also revealed that unconditional free shipping is the most important factor that leads customers to complete a purchase. In fact, 73% of respondents listed unconditional free shipping as “critical.”

Apart from completing their initial purchase, customers are likely to buy more products because of free shipping. A study conducted by Compete stated that 93% of online buyers are encouraged to buy more products if free shipping is included. Customers who received free shipping also ended up being more satisfied than those who had to pay additional fees.

Zappo’s shopping cart is a good example of this, emphasizing free shipping at the top of the website, as well as within the item display on your shopping cart.

Zappos Free Shipping

2 – Eliminate hidden charges

While having free shipping is important to customers, it is said that they also hate additional surprise charges as they are checking out. WebCredible UK’s 2010 survey indicates that 49% of online shoppers abandon their purchases because of hidden fees that are only revealed upon checkout. But if online shoppers dislike these surprise charges, how will business owners introduce additional variable charges such as sales tax, and specialized shipping?

One way to do this is by adding a calculator or estimator within the shopping cart as early in the process as possible. In the below example, Best Buy’s shopping cart has a built-in sales tax calculator to avoid any additional surprise charges for customers.

Best Buy and Cart Abandonment

3 – Make cart items visible at all times

It can be tricky (and therefore frustrating) for customers to keep backtracking and navigating a site just to find their existing shopping cart and check the items ready for purchase.

Though it’s simpler from a technical standpoint to create customer shopping carts on a separate page from your e-commerce store, customers need ready access to the cart regardless of the page they are on.

In one report, Movies Unlimited allowed its online shoppers to see their existing cart via a dropdown menu, rather than navigating to a separate page. This led to an estimated decrease in cart abandonment of 4% to 8%.

The below screenshot highlights this kind of feature in action. In Green Mountain Coffee’s example, the shopping cart shows up on the top right side of the screen whenever you add a new item to the cart. You can also easily make the cart viewable, if you want to check it as you’re shopping.

Green Mountain Coffee

4 – Reduce the number of pages involved in the checkout process

The Webcredible report also mentioned that around 10% of respondents abandon their shopping cart because of a lengthy checkout process.

These are most likely multi-page checkouts that keep presenting customers with additional forms, questions, or products.

But what if these additional options are necessary? This is where a feature like “Express Checkout” comes in. In the below example, NameCheap provides customers with an “Express Checkout” option where, while viewing their cart, they can immediately check out and complete the purchase.

Name Cheap

5 – Have a wide variety of payment options

The below example shows Walmart’s extensive list of payment options for their online store.

These include a variety of credit cards, third-party online payment services such as PayPal, and even Walmart rewards cards. Apart from these digital payment options, they also receive payments for online purchases via check. According to Walmart representative Cynthia Lin, check payments help them reach more customers. “Initial data show we’re reaching customers who have not bought from us before,” she said.

6 – Remind customers of their abandoned carts

Just because a customer abandoned their shopping cart, it doesn’t mean that the transaction is over.

In the same report about Movies Unlimited, they stated a 1.5% rise in transactions just by sending out email campaigns to remind customers of their abandoned carts. As a result, customers either purchase the “abandoned” items, save them for later, or clear the cart.

This move makes sense because the Forrester study also found that 41% of online shoppers who abandon their carts do so because they are unprepared to make the purchase. Therefore, online store owners should give customers the option to complete their purchase when they are ready.

Apart from email reminders, another way to remind customers to return to abandoned carts is the “Save for Later” or “Wishlist” feature, which is prevalent in most online shopping carts from established retailers. Amazon is a leader in this department with its several “Wishlist” features. You can create multiple wishlists, add a “Wishlist Add-on” for your browser so you can bookmark items from other websites, you can also jot items down and shop for them later.

Also, if they see that you’ve browsed specific items or categories, they’ll send you fully customized emails reminding you to buy these items.

Amazon

7 – Ask the user to register an account after the sale, not before

Webcredible’s study shows that 29% of online shoppers do not like proprietary registration forms during check out. In fact, one respondent stated that because of their existing number of passwords, they feel inconvenienced when yet another service requires them to create an account.

But how can you track customer activity without inconveniencing your customers? Walmart is a great example of this. As you’re checking out, they give you 3 options for your account. You can login with your existing Walmart account, register now, or wait until later to create your own Walmart account. This puts less pressure on the customer, knowing that he or she can complete the transaction without registering.

While an email address is still required, creating an online Walmart account is not.

Secure Checkout

8 – Have high-quality, interactive product images

E-tailing’s 2011 Connected Consumer survey showed that the website features online shoppers found essential were high quality images, ability to see the item in their preferred colors or styles, alternate views of the item, and zoom functionality.

The below example from Timbuk2 is a great example of this, since the pictures dominate the screen, can be viewed from different angles, and clearly display what the item will look like when you’ve customized it.

9 – Highlight your sales, discounts, and other specially priced items

The same E-tailing survey showed that 62% of online shoppers think it’s important for an e-commerce website to have sections for specially priced items. These include items on sale, coupon codes, and items being cleared from inventory.

In the example here, sale items are prominent on Steve Madden’s website, including specially assigned sections for sale and clearance items.

As you can see, these tips aren’t just for improving conversion rates, they help make for a better customer experience as well.

By applying even just a few of these tips to your shopping cart, you might see your sales increase, while providing a better, easier online shopping experience for your customers as well.

About 

Russ Henneberry is the Editorial Director at Digital Marketer. He's worked on digital marketing projects for companies like CrazyEgg, Salesforce.com and Network Solutions. You can connect with Russ on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or on his blog.

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37 COMMENTS

Peter

Great list. The psychology of cart abandonment is fascinating. Once visitors abandon, the momentum is generally against the sale, so its much more productive to close the deal while its still alive than to attempt to revive it later. We’ve been successfully reducing abandoned carts with clients by putting up messages real-time on the site after some trigger has been hit, usually elapsed time on the checkout page or inactivity in the store. To your point on the shipping costs, often retailers are reminding customers of their existing free shipping offer, so they’re not sacrificing anything further. Others are reaching a little deeper to prevent abandonment by sweetening the deal at checkout if the visitor exhibits signs of leaving. Anyway, lots of things to do, many of them quite simple.

August 14, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Thanks Peter! Have you had luck with remarketing to abandoned shopping carts or are you finding this to be a wild goose chase?

    August 14, 2012 Reply

Nichole Kelly

Russ – Great post! I recently learned of another one that would be good to add as well. We’ve been working with Velaro, a live chat provider and I’m astounded at the statistics on how much having live chat decreases shopping cart abandonment. Apparently, a large reason for abandonment is that the customer has a small question they want answered before they check out. It’s been a great project that is helping us wrap our heads around the e-commerce space more.

August 15, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Great point Nichole. I have heard similar success stories about the power of live chat. Thanks for adding this tip — and we are huge fans of Social Media Explorer!

    August 15, 2012 Reply

Kenneth @ World Class Copywriting

A truly fascinating study.

I reckon just implementing 1 of these could give many people a boost in conversion rate, but, if you implemented them all then it could be massive.

I certainly strongly agree with reducing the number of pages involved in the checkout process. Some shopping carts make it far too complicated and vendors are losing out as a result.

Thanks for the tips.

August 15, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Yep, each of these separately can have an impact but the more you combine these best practices th better your results will be. Thanks for stopping by!

    August 16, 2012 Reply

The eWAY Team

There are some terrific tips here – we’ve shared the link with our payment gateway clients. Keep up the good work, Russ!

Kind regards,
The eWAY Team

August 19, 2012 Reply

John Debrincat

Really nice tips for improving cart abandonment rates. Most are easy to do as well and just need a bit of work by the store owner. Some can be a little more difficult for SMBs that are using hosted online shops where changing process may not be possible. But all good ideas.

Thanks John

August 20, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Agreed John. It’s not easy to make these changes when you are an SMB without technical experience or running a cart with limited capabilities.

    August 21, 2012 Reply

Mike

getelastic.com has recently published a research on the similar topic. Many points are shared in fact.

August 30, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Thanks for the heads up on this research Mike, do you have a link?

    August 30, 2012 Reply

Anouska

Cheers for this post, I’m currently printing all your tips. I was wondering if you could let me know, what in your opinion would be the best example of a current ecommerce website that has the perfect shopping cart design coupled with usability? Would it be Amazon or zappos? or something different?

Thanks

September 19, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    @Anouska — Look for big sites that are always running tests. Zappos and Amazon certainly fall into that category.

    September 19, 2012 Reply

Mark

Thank you for the valuable insight. My site needs dramatic improvements. Part of the problem is I’m using E-junkie and the cart capabilities are limited (like no user login). I do like its simplicity though (easy to add a product to the site). I am currently trying to find a better one. Preferrably with low rates, ease of use, dependable, tons of options and flexibility. Do you have any suggestions for such a cart that focuses on locking in customer sales?

The free shipping part is difficult for products with shipping costs that are 25% the cost of the item. Certainly there are tricks to play with pushing shipping costs in with the item price but there are limits based on price point and percieved value. We are currently trying to negotiate discounted rates with UPS and FedEx. This is a big step in getting to low flat rate or free shipping. It is a chicken and egg problem because they only offer discounts if you ship a bunch (>$10k/month in shipping is the lower end). I guess most companies just take a big hit until they have the larger numbers and then negotiate the cheaper rates (zappos).

December 3, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Hi Mark,
    I’m no e-Commerce cart expert but I have use E-Junkie and always thought it better suited for delivering digital goods than real physical goods.

    Russ

    December 3, 2012 Reply

Aaron

Hiya, just like to give a really huge thanks for such clear and concise info. I have created my own shopping cart software, which obviously comes with great responsibility, and a need to be open to advice and new ideas. The chekout process is a side I’ve always struggled with, and I’ll definitely be bookmarking this page. Aaron

January 9, 2013 Reply

Glen

As an online shopper, I have had one incident where I previously abandoned a shopping cart then the site reminded me of it. Since I’m no longer interested with the product, I canceled it and move on to shopping (and checking out) the product I am already interested in buying. When I completed the payment, I was surprised to have bought the item I already canceled. That was sort of frustrating. Just sharing.

January 14, 2013 Reply

Avlesh

This is an interesting list Russ.

We are an in-site DIY customer engagement toolkit called WebEngage. We are reducing cart abandoment through a very innovative approach – by helping websites push discounts to users who are most likely to drop. Here’s how we are making a difference to thousands of online businesses worldwide – http://blog.webengage.com/2012/12/08/custom-targeting-launched-the-ultimate-solution-to-cart-abandonment-issues/

- Avlesh

January 17, 2013 Reply

May

Very interesting tips.
Thank you for sharing it. :)

February 21, 2013 Reply

Richard

Hi Russ,

Just in regards to point 4 – reduce the number of pages at the checkout, if you do have multiple pages is your preference then for an accordian style checkout?

Thanks,
Richard

February 25, 2013 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Good question Richard — what has been your experience?

    February 26, 2013 Reply

      Richard

      To date we haven’t really done much experimentation – but our ecommerce solution does offer an accordian style checkout and I amd thinking that we should eb testing this.

      February 26, 2013 Reply

Ben

Some great points here regarding the psychology involved when trying to convert sales as an online retailer, Russ! However, with regard to tip #6 “Remind customers of their abandoned carts” – you mention emails as a method of re-engaging with prospects who abandon online carts, but in my experience there are way in which you can achieve a much higher conversion rate than 1.5%. The key is speed. Allow me to explain…

The trouble with contacting potential customers via email after the have abandoned an online cart is that the email tends to not get read until a later time when they have finished shopping (and possibly purchased from one of your competitors if they experienced problems on your own site), so the email is of little help or appeal. The trick is to engage with people in real-time while they are still in “buying mode”.

Now there are many ways to go about this, but perhaps the best is to talk to your customers over the phone so that one of your sales agents can help the prospect overcome any problems and attempt to rescue the sale. There are now companies who provide affordable solutions that allow you to do this. Take a look at Optilead for example.

August 8, 2013 Reply

Fine Art Prints

I recently read that 67.75% of all online shopping carts are abandoned, which seems rather high to me. But whatever the figure is, when you think about all of the work you’ve spent optimizing landing pages, pricing strategies, and perfecting your information, if only 1 out of every 10 people are going to stop at the finish line, its still a bit depressing. Therefore, any information to decrease abandoned carts is very useful. Thanks.

November 12, 2013 Reply

CN

Great tips, thanks, as I’m new to ecommerce. I have LOADS of abandoned carts since we launched the site end of November. You mention contacting the customer but how if they don’t enter their email address ? Which they don’t if following the advice of not forcing them to register before the sale.

December 18, 2013 Reply

Alice

Thanks for the informative and pleasant article.
your are sugesstion are good but I’m highly agree with hidden cost systm. Because I also had an experice with this, once i was buying gift for my friend at that time i faced this problem. Before checkout it was just 100$ but at the checkout it was 117$.

December 30, 2013 Reply

Jagan

This is a nice list Russ. The screenshots make it more easy to read through and get the point.

In addition to the code changes to the site, wouldn’t it be nice to slightly nudge the visitor with a web notification just when the visitor tries to leave the site or abandon the cart?

We just did that at VisitorEngage. With leave intent (exit) targeting, you can push custom personalized notifications to people trying to navigate away from your store.
http://visitorengage.com/blog/leave-intent-based-targeting-exit-popups/

March 17, 2014 Reply


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