mobile payments

Cart Abandonment: How to Beat Online Shopping’s Hidden Enemy

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As a business owner, I’m constantly encountering different problems that need to be dealt with immediately. Fairly recently, I’ve tackled a problem that is extremely frustrating for so many online sellers: shopping cart abandonment. 

Shopping cart abandonment rates vary from one niche to the next, with the average rate being 69.75% across all industries. Some of it is beyond our control, as some shoppers abandon their carts simply because they were comparing prices.

While it’s unrealistic to expect that your cart abandonment rate will ever be zero, there are still many factors that are in your control — which means you can improve it. So, I’ve put together a list of tips you can implement to get more of your customers to follow through with their purchases, as well as to avoid some of the most common mistakes.

1. Build Data on the Reason for Cart Abandonment 

Although it’s hard to list them all, the most common reasons for shopping cart abandonment are: 

  • Unexpected extra costs (shipping, taxes, additional fees) 
  • Mandatory account creation 
  • Lengthy/complicated checkout 
  • Total cost of order not visible up-front
  • Technical issues (website malfunctioning) 
  • Unwillingness to provide credit card information because the site seems untrustworthy 
  • Too few payment methods 

Now, to minimize the number of customers that are abandoning their shopping carts in your online store, you need to understand the reason(s) behind it. It may very well be one of the things I’ve listed above, but instead of guessing, you should definitely rely on your ecommerce data to provide you with a clear picture. You can pull data from the following sources:

  • Your website analytics software — This is usually Google Analytics or a similar tool that enables you to see at which point the customer abandoned their shopping cart, as well as devices they used to access the store (desktop, smartphone, tablet), and traffic source (organic, paid, social media, email, etc.).
  • A/B testing — You can optimize your ecommerce store by changing various page elements and testing them in order to see how your customers respond to them. This includes value propositions, calls to action, and special offers, just to name a few.
  • Session recordings and heatmaps — This should help you determine if your website’s UI is to blame for cart abandonment. You will also be able to see how your customers behave on your website, how they make their purchases, and which CTAs are driving conversions and which aren’t.
  • Surveys You could always ask your customers why they are abandoning your store before making a purchase. Send out both offline and online surveys and ask which parts of the checkout process they found problematic and what you can do to improve. Offer discounts or some other prize in order to convince them to take the survey.
  • AI-powered KPI analytics — If you are using AI analytics software that automatically analyzes all your KPIs, you can spot trends and patterns in customer behavior in real-time, and that includes their reason for shopping abandonment.

The more data sources you have, the better, as you will reduce the amount of guesswork and base your decisions on solid data alone. 

2. Enable Guest Purchases

According to stats, not offering your customers to make a purchase with a guest checkout option is the second most common reason for shopping cart abandonment, with 34% of surveyed shoppers confirming that they abandoned their cart for this very reason. Now, while creating an account enables you to gather more data about your customers (which your marketing team can then use), the truth is that it creates a barrier that a lot of customers aren’t willing to cross. For some, it represents too much of a hassle, while others aren’t willing to give up their personal information. 

By enabling your customers to make purchases without an account, you make the entire process smooth and effortless. That will make them more willing not only to come back but perhaps even to make an account the second time around, especially if you sweeten the deal with discounts, loyalty programs, and other incentives. 

A great example of this comes from Impossible, a brand that sells sports apparel and performance gear and performance gear. Their website doesn’t ask you to create an account at any point during checkout. All you need to do is provide them with your email and your shipping and payment information, and that’s it. 


3. Don’t Lose Critical Conversion CTAs in Clutter

I’ve seen a number of ecommerce companies make the mistake of assuming that once a customer has added something to the cart, they need no further motivation to finish making their purchase. This is where a huge number of conversions goes south. 

One of the most effective ways to prevent this is by having strong calls to action every step of the way until your shoppers have finalized their purchases. Opt for approachable, friendly, but direct language, and use non-ambiguous words. 

For instance, instead of “Continue,” which doesn’t tell the customer what’s about to happen next, use “Check out.” And make sure that the tone and language of your CTAs are consistent throughout the entire checkout process in order to create a seamless shopping experience. 

Sephora does this really well with their online store, using strong CTAs such as “View Basket and Checkout” and “Checkout Shipped Items.” This approach is especially useful if you don’t have a progress indicator on your checkout pages and you want the customer to know where they are in the checkout process. 


4. Show Shoppers Where the Cart Is

One of the most overlooked elements that can make or break a conversion and affect the cart abandonment rate is the design of the “Add to cart” button, as well as the cart itself. 

The button is usually located in the top right corner of the screen, but you shouldn’t just leave it at that. Shoppers should be able to view the contents of their shopping carts, product details, information on the total costs and money saved, add or remove items, as well as proceed directly to checkout without having to open the cart page.

There are many different designs that can solve this issue, but I really like the one implemented by Dress Forms USA, just because it’s so simple and effective. Every time you add one of their dress forms or any other items to your shopping cart, a nice little cart flyout will appear, showing all the necessary shopping information. The flyout also includes a thumbnail of the product, which helps with the overall shopping experience and reduces the chance of the shopper getting distracted in the process.


5. Be Upfront with Extra Costs

Various hidden costs, whether real or made up, are the main reason why customers abandon their shopping carts. According to research, 55% of shoppers will bounce from a site because of hidden extra costs. The customers will especially find the experience unpleasant if these costs are presented to them at the very end of the checkout process, when they’re about to enter their shipping and payment information. Once they find out that the item they find for seemingly good value comes with additional shopping costs or taxes attached, they might change their minds.

Being upfront with all the extra costs is easy enough. For US-based deliveries, shipping costs and taxes might change depending on the state. That certainly complicates things, but you can fix it by offering a shipping or tax calculator to help shoppers arrive at the total cost. 

Apple does this really well in their online store, where the price of every item is clearly broken down, including shipping and tax information, with zero unpleasant surprises for the customer.


6. Offer a Variety of Shipping Options

All customers like to have a choice when it comes to different aspects of shopping, and that includes shipping. I’ve singled out shipping because high or unexpected shipping costs are among the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment. 

So, what shipping options should you offer? 

Well, that depends on what you can provide. But ideally, you should offer a standard shipping rate, next-day delivery for an additional fee, and even the popular click-and-collect option as well, if you happen to have a brick-and-mortar store.

You could also enable your customers to choose among different delivery services. For example, some customers might have had a bad experience with a particular courier, so they would prefer to choose another one to handle their delivery. 

I like how UK’s retail giant, Marks & Spencer, handled this. Their cart page shows all of the available shipping options, their respective costs, and estimated delivery times for each. But even more importantly, the customer is aware of this before they reach the checkout page. 


7. Address Common Shopper Concerns Clearly

Online shopping comes with many benefits that make it superior to shopping at physical stores. However, where the latter still has the edge is the customers’ ability to check out the items in person for fit and feel. Choosing the right size online is also an issue, especially if the measurements aren’t specified clearly enough. All of this begs the question of how online stores deal with exchanges and returns. Some customers might abandon their cart if the store’s policy on those issues isn’t listed.

Kuru Footwear, with its selection of footwear for foot pain, goes above and beyond to address these issues and features an in-depth guide underneath each of its items. This includes not just information about the product but also their return and exchange policy. You can even ask questions in the comment section, and their staff will answer you. Last but not least, they have a dedicated FAQ page. All of that pretty much covers just about any customer concern. 


Make Shopping at Your Online Store Better

To reach your goals as an ecommerce brand, reducing your cart abandonment rate should be at the top of your list. While it’s hard to please every single customer, there are plenty of things you can do to make shopping at your online store a pleasant and frictionless experience for most of them. I hope you will find the advice shared in this article useful. Good luck!

Karl Kangur is the founder of