5 Top Tips For Minimising Abandoned Shopping Carts

Abandoned shopping carts cost online retailers $4 trillion a year, according to Business Insider research in 2014. This mind-blowing figure came after a web research firm, the Baymard Institute trawled through 33 different eCommerce studies, to find that the cart abandonment rate is 68.63%.

That figure is recent, updated in January 2016. Originally, when that number first hit the Internet in 2012, it was 65.23%, when it was described as ‘an overwhelming majority’ of carts were left abandoned. In 2013, that figure increased again, to 67.45%. This number has increased every year, despite an improving economy.

In economic terms: $4 trillion is a lot of money.

Why Carts Are Abandoned

Let’s picture the real impact of that figure. In retail terms: 100 people walk into your store, or digital equivalent and put items in their baskets. And then, 68 – almost 69 – of them give up and leave.

According to studies, unexpected costs particularly shipping, causing the price to be more than a customer expected is the number one reason carts are abandoned. Customers also put items in baskets whilst browsing, allowing them to compare with other retailers the total, which means those with the cheapest overall costs will win the sale.

Security – either too much or too little – and usability issues (website speed, design and layout) are also highly-ranked concerns amongst consumers. Here’s how this impacts different sectors:

minimising shopping cart abandonment


How To Reduce Cart Abandonment: 5 Top Tips

#1: Reduce the mental pain of parting with money

For some people, parting with hard-earned money can almost be physically painful, even if you have money to spare. The loss aversion principle is working against retailers since people weigh the cost of buying something new against giving up what they already have (money).

Judging by abandonment rates, carts are still not doing enough to mitigate this perceived loss, thereby encouraging shoppers to part with their cash. One way, according to studies, is to make a price appear small and display it in a neutral colour.

Anything that makes a price seem more prominent is enough to make those who aren’t price sensitive consider the price for longer.

#2: Offer Free Shipping

Customers would rather have free shipping, or at least see the cost of shipping and goods before they complete the purchase. Adding shipping at the end, right before they are about to buy, is one of the main reasons for abandoned carts.

According to a study by David Bell, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business:

“A free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing to many than a discount that cuts the purchase by $10.”

It’s that simple: be clear about shipping costs or offer it for free.

#3: Make registering simple

In the early days, online retailer ASOS had the following page where new customers could register.

asos 1

After months of testing, the design looked like this:

asos 2


New account creation increased 50%. This process should be as simple as possible. Retailers that use authentication pages for social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, save customers even more time and further increase conversions.

Another thing to remember is to ensure you ask customers to register after the sale, not before.

#4: Keep checkout forms lean

Every single field in your checkout form reduces conversion rates.

In 2011, Expedia took out one field (see below), increasing profits $12 million.

ab testing expedia

When it comes to conversions, every word a customer has to enter, counts. Keep them short and sweet, especially with mobile checkouts. Time is everything when using a smaller screen. Customers are even more willing to give up sooner.

#5: Reassure all the way

Returning to the first point, that parting with money can be painful, it is important to reassure customers throughout the checkout process.

Highlight when they save money. Confirm each stage of the checkout is done, once an input field has been filled in, and at the point where payment is being taken, show all the relevant security features. Customers can easily abandon if they don’t feel secure at this point.

Part of this means reminding them what they are buying, including visually and any savings they are making. Conversions happen in customers’ minds. A high-converting checkout ought to reassure them throughout this process, which is how retailers reduce cart abandonment.

You may also like to read our post on trust badges and security certification: The Value of Trust Badges: Driving Customer Confidence and Conversion with Ecommerce Security Logos