shopping cart abandonment

It has to be one of the most frustrating trends in e-commerce. Your prospective customer has selected items, gone to the shopping cart, and for some reason BOOM. They’re gone, and your shopping cart is left abandoned; the promising sale is lost. The statistics paint a pretty harrowing picture. If Edward Munsch’s guy on a bridge were in e-commerce, we’d know exactly what he was screaming about! calculates an average abandonment rate of 68.07%. Yup, that’s over two-thirds of every potential customer, a cost to the industry estimated in 2014 to be over three trillion dollars. Three trillion! That’s bigger than the GDP of France or UK. Well, that’s the post-apocalyptic nightmare scenario we’ve got to work with, but we don’t need to join the resistance just yet. We have access to excellent metric data to plan a strategy on how to get that figure down. You’ll never eliminate abandonment altogether, but by making a few simple changes to your website and m-commerce capability you can make significant inroads, and keep the screams at bay.


1.Make it easy for your customer to navigate.
You’ve probably heard the term Responsive Design bandied about in tech circles for a little while, but it’s quite often misinterpreted as just being a cool thing to do. The interesting thing about RD is that it suffers from relatively low uptake by online retailers. We find this baffling. Responsive Design ensures that moving from e-commerce to m-commerce is a smooth and usable process for your customer. With 92% of websites not being configured for Responsive Design, the market is wide open for companies like Magento to make big inroads into making our websites better. This is only if we understand the usefulness and necessity of the product. We won’t wax too lyrical on the benefits and features here, this topic alone is exhaustive in word count – but we have put it top of our list for a reason. This is the area of design that is least exploited right now, and has the greatest potential for benefits to your business.

2. Understand why the cart was abandoned
Do you spot what is surprising about the following chart?

causes of shopping cart abandonment

Personally we were expecting browsing to be by far and away the most frequent cause of abandonment. We’re never going to eliminate casual browsing, and a good thing that is, too. Slapping unexpected delivery charges or booking fees is the number one cause of cart abandonment; this is such a simple fix it seems like it should be second nature not to do it. The problem here arises when businesses don’t understand how the customer interprets their fees. We need to provide the information in a concise and easy to follow format; ideally on a single page. Think about it from your experience. When you’ve clicked purchase on a product, gone to a payment screen and all of a sudden there’s an extra delivery charge. You become disappointed at the additional fee, despite it being quite logical that goods incur transportation costs. The difference between abandonment and completion can be as simple as presenting the product with the delivery on the same page, or even eliminating shipping if possible. Deloitte cites free shipping as the most important factor in purchases for 20% of customers. Would it make sense for your business to combine a customer retention policy with a free shipping offer? Think ‘Free shipping for subscribers to our email list’, or similar. This article has some excellent tricks to make free shipping work for you. You should also consider installing a shipping calculator.
We just addressed the number one cause of shopping cart abandonment, but if you look back at the chart you will see that the top four issues relate to price and timing. If you have price and timing when considering cart abandonment at each stage of your process, you should avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

3. Manage your expectations
In a SeeWhy study that comprised over a quarter of a million online transactions, something was found that completely knocked our socks off when we first saw it. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? Ok. Here it is. 99% of visitors to websites do not purchase on the first encounter. Can you believe that? It’s amazing we get any business done at all! Now, obviously this figure cannot be entirely accurate, and as usual when the surveyed people were asked, 75% were browsing with intent to purchase later. Unfortunately, in the same study, 81% of merchants thought the browser was just wasting their time! This is a clear disconnect between the two perspectives, and ultimately the big loser is us, the businesses.
What can we do about it? A system of polite email inquiry that doubles as remarketing is a good option. The tricky part is finding the sweet spot that hits the customer who is in all likelihood returning to your site anyway and is already considering a purchase and does not piss them off. We would caution against a pop-up survey, as these are both likely to be blocked by browsers and 100% cast iron guaranteed to get up the nose of even the most loyal customer. A better technique is a follow-up email saying their cart is still active, and maybe you could invite feedback as to why the purchase was abandoned. We clearly need to interact with our customers better than what we are doing right now to get that 68% down to a 34%.

email e-commerce marketing inquiry

4.Keep Your Customers Informed
In 2015, many of us have been working and purchasing online for so long that it feels like second nature to spot a shady seller, or to find an impartial review of a service. Putting on our customer’s shoes shows us a different perspective; you know your company is legitimate, but how does anyone else know? Huit Denim added a simple and elegant solution to this problem by adding a little policy snapshot box to their shopping cart. Through this addition, the customer is immediately informed of what the ins and outs of their purchase will entail, without having to navigate to another screen. The message is one that bears repeating again and again; the more pages a customer has to work through, the higher chance the shopping cart will be abandoned. We’re working to trim fractions of a second from the shopping experience. It doesn’t seem like much, but those fractions of real time are far longer when represented as moments of human attention.

shopping cart abandonment

5.Make payment secure, secure your payment!
At the end of the working day, it comes down to completion. In brutal terms, we can talk about UX design and such until the cows come home. It doesn’t matter if using your website is like breathing if your customer base has been restricted to using a credit card.

free shipping shopping cart abandonment

From personal experience, we will usually choose PayPal overusing credit cards. Not so much for the additional security but simply because it’s easy and makes the purchase over and done with. That’s the experience we have online. The shopping part is fun for customers, but if you cannot complete the sale it’s just frustration all round. With multiple online wallets available to your potential customers, it has never been more vital for us to be able to take payments from various sources. We’re selling ourselves and our customer’s short if we don’t. Take Overstock for example: twelve months ago they announced the company would accept payment in BitCoin, and has subsequently announced that the equivalent of $3m in purchases has been made. So successful has this project been that Overstock employees now have the option to receive wages in cryptocurrency. Let all who doubted the longevity of BitCoin take a healthy slice of humble pie.
Have you found black spots in your conversion from interrogating your data? Let’s talk in the comments field below and see if we can’t find a solution. As always, if you like this article, share it! Knowledge is power.

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