How to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate and Increase Sales

By: on June 14, 2018

Pretty much all consumers have put something in an online cart and then left the site without making the purchase. Whether it’s the pain of paying, having to create an account with the store or second thoughts, it happens.

It’s safe to say it’s happening to your e-commerce store, but just how bad is it? Our consumer research shows 86 percent of shoppers have abandoned online shopping carts in the past year.

You know how much work it takes to get shoppers to your store, let alone get them browsing products. You can’t afford to lose out on sales so close to the finish line, especially as a small business with fewer resources than your midsize and enterprise competitors.

Small and midsize business (SMB) e-commerce retailers must actively work to lower their shopping cart abandonment rate. They need to find ways to remind customers of the items they left in the cart when they abandoned the purchase.

We’ve conducted consumer research to show you why consumers abandon online carts most often. Our research also highlights strategies for closing online sales and lowering your shopping cart abandonment rate.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Calculating Your Cart Abandonment Is Critical to Improving Sales
Slight Adjustments Can Help Avoid Abandonment Altogether
Competitive Pricing and Strategic Discounts Lower Abandonment Rates
Deploy Your Shopping Cart Abandonment Strategy Today

Calculating Your Cart Abandonment Is Critical to Improving Sales

Before we dive into causes and solutions, let’s define exactly what shopping cart abandonment is.

Cart abandonment is the action of a shopper browsing your site, adding products to their cart and then leaving your site without purchasing the items left in the cart.

Online retailers must have a measurement of abandonment frequency on their site. To measure this, you need to determine your shopping cart abandonment rate:

Cart Abandonment Rate = 1 – (# transactions completed / # transactions initiated)

For example, if your online store completes 100 transactions by the end of the month but 500 transactions were initiated within that same month, your cart abandonment rate is 80 percent. Here’s how you would calculate that:

1 – (100/500) = .80 = 80 percent Cart Abandonment Rate

Fortunately, most e-commerce software on the market today offers some form of shopping cart abandonment analytics.

Full e-commerce store dashboard via Shopify

Part of Shopify’s e-commerce dashboard is a section titled “Online store conversion rate” that breaks conversions into three sections:

  1. Products added to cart
  2. Customers click through to checkout
  3. Purchase is made

This detailed breakdown can help you see where and when shoppers are abandoning their carts. Are they getting through to the checkout stage? Or are they leaving the site before even attempting to make a sale?

Answering these questions can help you identify and work more strategically to chip away at your shopping cart abandonment rate.

Shopping Cart Abandonment is Inevitable, But Slight Improvements Can Make a Big Difference

Before we go any deeper, it’s important you realize that your shopping cart abandonment rate will never be zero. You could operate a thriving, successful e-commerce site and still never have your abandonment rate fall below 60 percent.

Shopping cart abandonment is an inevitable outcome of a majority of your online store visits. But you can benefit significantly with effective pricing and discount strategies that knock the rate down a couple points and/or set up retargeting to get customers back on your site to close the purchase.

The national average is just below 70 percent, according to the Baymard Institute. And our research shows that 86 percent of consumers have abandoned online shopping carts in the past year. These are consumers who’ve made at least 10 online purchases in the past year.

Abandonment Frequency for Online Shoppers
Abandonment Frequency for Online Shoppers

A hard truth of e-commerce is that cart abandonment is always going to happen and will continue accounting for a majority of initiated transactions. Keep in mind the average conversion rate for online retailers is only 1 – 2 percent of total visitors, according to research from e-commerce vendor BigCommerce.

Seeing so many consumers abandoning their online carts raises these questions:

What are your consumers doing and where are they going when they abandon all the time and effort they put into browsing your online store?

Our research shows that 97 percent of consumers compare prices between different online retailers for the same item.

Customer Likelihood to Check Online Store Prices Against Amazon and Others
Customer Likelihood to Check Online Store Prices Against Amazon and Others

With so many marketplaces and avenues for purchase available today, it make sense that customers are checking product prices across multiple sites before making a purchase.

To counter customers leaving your site to check prices and to encourage them to come back, you must offer competitive, dynamic pricing and discounts.

Competitive Pricing and Strategic Discounts Lower Abandonment Rates For 76 Percent of Consumers

So far, we’ve established that:

  1. Customers will inevitably abandon online carts with products in them.
  2. Customers will almost always check your prices against other sellers.

Our consumer research highlights these claims and showcases the importance of fighting the pricing battle and being strategic with discounting.

Top Consumer Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment
Top Consumer Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment

A majority of the consumers we surveyed say that the final price of the products as well as the delivery costs have caused them to abandon carts. And 43 percent of consumers say the lack of any discounts has led to them abandoning an online shopping cart.

This all boils down to a need for you to balance competitive pricing with sustainable margins. You can’t take a loss just to make the sale, but you also need to make the sale.

Top Actions to Encourage Customers To Revisit and Purchase Abandoned Items
Top Actions to Encourage Customers To Revisit and Purchase Abandoned Items

When asked what would influence them to revisit and purchase items previously left in an online cart, 76 percent of the consumers we surveyed said discounts on those items. Again if you can balance offering a discount with maintaining healthy margins, then this could work for you.

An interesting takeaway from this question is that 37 percent of consumers would be encouraged to purchase previously abandoned items in exchange for a discount on their next purchase.

This is a great strategy, as it incentivizes prior shoppers familiar with your online store to:

  1. Come back and complete an abandoned sale (and potentially shop again and add more items to the purchase).
  2. Come back to your site again to use the discount awarded after the first purchase to shop and make another purchase.

There’s a wonderful and highly valuable layer of customer retention built into what seems like a basic retargeting offer.

Deploy Your Shopping Cart Abandonment Strategy Today

Here’s a quick snapshot of our recommended next best actions.

Recommended actions:

  • Adopt e-commerce analytics tools to monitor conversion metrics.
  • Establish baseline shopping cart abandonment rate.
  • Create benchmarks/goals for where you’d like your rate to fall to.
  • Test discounts and other strategies addressed above.
  • Monitor effects of abandonment strategies to determine success.

The best place to start addressing your shopping cart abandonment rate is with your monitoring tactics. Do you have a reliable breakdown of conversion metrics for your online store? If not, then this is where you must start.

Again, most e-commerce platforms on the market today offer analytics tools that break down visitors and their actions. You need these tools to determine your baseline cart abandonment rate so you can set benchmarks and measure the effectiveness of any campaigns you launch.

Before looking for a new system or plug-in, check with your vendor or visit user forums to see if you have this capability already. If you need to add on site analytics capabilities, first consider plug-ins or Google Analytics integrations before revamping your entire system.

Many e-commerce platforms support integrating additional capabilities into your platform via plug-ins. These often serve single, specific needs such as a dashboard specifically dedicated to cart abandonment numbers.

Visit our Shopping Cart software category page to learn more about shopping cart and cart abandonment tools that can enable you to achieve success with your digital business.

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