Optimization Glossary

Shopping Cart Abandonment

What Is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is when a potential customer starts a check out process for an online order but drops out of the process before completing the purchase. Any item that enters the shopping cart but never makes it through the transaction is considered to be “abandoned” by the shopper. Shopping cart abandonment is an important aspect of the online shopping process that retailers pay careful attention to.

Shopping cart abandonment rate is calculated by dividing the total number of completed transactions by the total number of transactions that were initiated. This rate will identify what percentage of a site’s users signal purchase intent by adding an item to the cart, but don’t complete the purchase.

The shopping cart abandonment rate is an important metric for e-commerce sites to keep track of because a high abandonment rate could signal a poor user experience or broken sales funnel. Reducing shopping cart abandonment leads directly to more sales and revenue, so optimizing the checkout flow a core area of focus for many online retailers.

How To Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment?

There are many possible causes for shopping cart abandonment, making it a complex problem to tackle. The first step in addressing the issue is to create hypotheses about why visitors are abandoning their carts. This can be done by looking at analytics data and identifying dropoff points, conducting user research and surveys, or comparing your checkout flow to competing sites.

Once a hypothesis has been generated, then different solutions can be tested on the site through A/B testing to determine whether a proposed solution will help improve the shopping cart abandonment rate.

For example, one common issue that many online retailers face is the issue of trust. Although web users have grown more comfortable in providing their credit cards over the web, many users can still be hesitant to provide their financial information to unfamiliar websites.

If the theory is that lack of trust is causing shoppers to abandon their carts, then different solutions can be implemented to increase trust, such as including reviews and testimonials, incorporating trust seals, prominently featuring pictures of real people, and offering money back guarantees. Each of these can be tested on the site to determine whether they have a statistically significant impact on cart abandonment rate.

In another example, a company might notice that 25% of their shoppers are dropping off on the second page of their shopping cart. Once they have identified the problem area, they can implement different features to encourage users to complete the purchase.

For example, they could test adding a progress bar to give shoppers a visual indicator of where they are in the checkout process. Or they could offer a limited-time offer to incentivise shoppers to complete the transaction immediately. They could even eliminate the second page of their checkout flow altogether through a redesign, in order to speed up the checkout process.

By creating hypothesis for why a site’s shopping cart abandonment rate is high and testing new ideas for improving the sales funnel, ecommerce sites can constantly improve the conversion rate of their site and increase revenues without having to spend more on increasing traffic.

Common Reasons For Shopping Cart Abandonment

Every site is different, but the following are some common issues faced by many sites that result in cart abandonment:

  • Lack of trust - Web users aren’t always comfortable providing credit card info online. Improve conversions by building more trust.
  • High shipping costs - Customers often abandon shopping carts when they get sticker shock after seeing how much their order costs with shipping. Avoid this by offering free shipping promos.
  • Complexity - Online shoppers have a short attention span and will abandon the checkout flow if it is too complex or time consuming. Avoid this by making the checkout process as easy and painless as possible.
  • Browsing - Many users who add items to the cart but don’t complete are just browsing with low buying intent. Incentivise these users to purchase immediately by offering limited time promos.
  • Lack of payment options - Customers often have strong preferences of how they would like to pay, and only complete a purchase if their preferred method is presented. Reduce this problem by offering the most popular payment methods for your target audience such as Amex and PayPal.
  • Price too high - Users on the web often comparison shop to find the best deals. You can help prevent customers from jumping ship by offering special discounts or better service in order to keep competitors from luring them away.
  • Technical problems - All technology is susceptible to technical issues and glitches. Be sure to monitor your analytics and do regular reviews of the checkout process to ensure there are no show-stopping bugs.

Why A/B Testing Is The Key To Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment

There are many different reasons why customers abandon shopping carts and many potential ways to solve them, which is why A/B testing is a key part of reducing shopping cart abandonment.

A/B testing software such as Optimizely allows you to easily make changes to your site through a visual editor (no coding required!) and then split your traffic so that visitors to your site are randomly shown either the original version of your site, or the version with your changes.

Once Optimizely has collected enough data, it uses an advanced statistical engine to tell you which version of your page performs better. With Optimizely there’s no guesswork involved, you will know with mathematical certainty which version of your site has a lower shopping cart abandonment rate and exactly how big the impact on your business will be.

Start testing with Optimizely today and use data to increase sales and grow your customers!