The Phenomenon of Shopping Cart Abandonment and How to Address It Effectively

02 February 2022 ~ 19 min read 1458 views
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Claspo Blog The Phenomenon of Shopping Cart Abandonment and How to Address It Effectively

Surely, if a shopper doesn’t complete a purchase, it equals to lost revenue for any e-commerce website. Thus, if you’re a marketing professional, this article is a great way to gain a basic, yet explicit understanding of shopping cart abandonment. It explains the roots of this phenomenon, its essence, and how to cope with it.

To make its structure more coherent, the article will cover the essential aspects of dealing with abandoned carts one by one:    

  1. What is shopping cart abandonment?
  2. Why does every abandoned cart count?
  3. Types of cart abandonment
  4. Common Reasons Why Shoppers Abandon Carts
  5. How to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment
  6. Shopping cart recovery
  7. Conclusion

What is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Let's start with the core question: “What is shopping cart abandonment?”, and the answer to it is quite literal. To put it simply, it means that despite adding products or services to the cart, the customer decides to quit and ends up never actually going through with the purchase.  

With so much of our shopping done digitally, it is easy to imagine casually browsing an online store, adding items to your cart, starting the checkout process, stopping short of completing it and leaving the site without making a purchase. That last action is what analysts refer to as online shopping cart abandonment. You might have done it as a shopper, but if you’ve never paid attention to this metric as a retailer, it is a huge oversight that needs to be fixed.

Why Does Every Abandoned Cart Count?

Now, you might be curious: why is reducing the number of dropped shopping carts so important? According to the studies of Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.82%, which at first might seem like a terrifying loss of profits. Yet, with the right approach, it can become a huge opportunity for growth.

Of course, the customer's final decision doesn’t depend directly on you. Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to shop online, it still takes hours of studying reviews, browsing social media accounts and comparing websites before customers can finally make an educated choice and finish their purchase. There are, however,  many tricks that you can pull out of your sleeve to make users more eager to complete the process here and now: 

  • Help your clients with the selection process;
  • Remove unnecessary & excessive parts of the checkout process;
  • Keep an eye on your software and run tests regularly. 

This is an incredibly broad topic, and besides elaborating on it here, we have two other articles dedicated to the negative consequences of shopping cart abandonment and effective ways to reduce it.  

But you might ask a valid question: “Do I suffer from a cart abandonment issue?”.  To answer it, let’s find your online shopping cart abandonment rate. You’ll need two basic mathematical formulas to perform the calculations:

Cart Conversion Rate.png

Example: You have an online shoe store, and among 70 000 users 33 000 of them have added items to the electronic basket, and only 9 000 of them placed an order. What’s your cart abandonment rate?

  1. 900033 000= 0.27    
  2. 1-0.27=0.73
  3. 0.73 100=73

Et voilà, your digital shopping cart abandonment rate is 73%. It’s slightly higher than the average of 69.82%, making it far from bad or alarming, but it shows room for improvement. Baymard Institute research shows you can achieve a 35.26% increase in conversion rate by adjusting your checkout process alone.

Note: Your cart abandonment rate is an important metric with has a variety of practical applications. It’s a complex subject, so we covered it in another article. If you’re interested in this topic, you can find it here.

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Types of Cart Abandonment 

Naturally, the number of abandoned carts will affect your company differently, depending on multiple factors, such as product range or order placement procedure. Businesses that require a substantial amount of money, careful thinking, or complex form submission will always show a higher percentage of dropouts than the ones that sell everyday goods. That’s why it’s crucial to identify the type of cart abandonment you’re facing. Understanding the minutiae of the problem lets you come up with a more tailored solution.

Niche Abandonment

Generally, people are more cautious with spending their money online than inside the walls of a shopping mall. However, we can witness major fluctuations in the digital shopping cart abandonment rate depending on the industry. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to buy food and medicine online way more often than plane tickets, it is logical to presume that even when the struggle against the virus is over, people will still be more hesitant to buy expensive or luxurious things. As is still the case, the level of preparation and responsibility of renting a car or booking accommodations cannot be compared with ordering a shampoo.

Shopping cart abandonment rate by industries in March 2021.png
Shopping cart abandonment rate by industries in March 2021. Retrieved from Statista

As a result, your cart abandonment rate will always be heavily influenced by the industry’s distinctive qualities, and you should consider them while preparing your proactive measures. As an example of dealing with industry-related problems, you can take a look at our article written about shopping cart abandonment in retail.  

Plus, it’s important to note that even though you might not have a basket on your website, you can still be facing cart abandonment issues. It might have a different name, but it still has the same damaging consequences. For instance, you can be up against:

  • Booking abandonment. This term refers to any purchase that requires booking something, like a flight, an apartment, or a tour. It means that the client started to fill in the form, but never submitted it.  
  • Form abandonment. Most online shops ask users to complete various forms, but this type doesn’t apply to stores as it is related to other e-commerce sites, like when getting a car insurance quote, applying for a loan or subscribing to online magazines and realizing that the process requires too much time or data.     

Browsing & Checkout Abandonment

Identifying the stage when the customers decide to drop out is a vital step in identifying out your weak spots and preparing an improvement strategy. You should apply different measures if you deal with:

  • “Add to cart” abandonment. This means that shoppers were browsing your site, selected some items, but never even got to the checkout process. It shows that they weren’t convinced to buy from you. You need to become more encouraging and persuasive. 
  • Checkout abandonment. This type sends you a signal that something is wrong with your checkout process, which might be due to complicated forms or lack of payment options. As soon as you identify the moment when the client leaves the cart abandoned, you can start making proper adjustments.    

Common Reasons Why Shoppers Abandon Carts

Of course, abandoned carts appear for a reason, and there are plenty of factors contributing to the customer’s decision to quit. Luckily, almost all of them can be successfully addressed by business owners. 

The most common reasons for abandoning online shopping carts in 2021.png
The most common reasons for abandoning online shopping carts in 2021. Retrieved from Baymard Institute

Inefficient Company Policies

Usually, the problem with abandoned shopping carts occurs when the platform fails to accommodate clients’ needs, and that’s completely normal because it’s impossible to predict someone’s behavior that accurately. However, as soon as you know what the users are unhappy with, you can adapt your company’s policies to fix it. Let’s take a look at the most common examples:

  1. “Just browsing”. 
  2. Extra costs were too high.
  3. The necessity to create an account.
  4. Slow delivery.
  5. Complicated checkout process.
  6. Trust issues.
  7. Couldn’t see the total cost upfront.
  8. Unsatisfactory returns policy.
  9. Lack of payment options.
  10. The credit card was declined. 

The marketing team should come up with new interactive features to guide customers through the selection process and build trust. Meanwhile, others should suggest ways to reduce costs, omit unnecessary steps, and add useful elements.         

Technical Problems

There is no website that exists without technical issues. They will appear from time to time, and it’s inevitable. But keep in mind that every glitch, bug, error, or crash may lead to an abandoned cart. Hence, providing regular maintenance for your platform is important, make sure your team doesn’t forget about it.

Creating a user-friendly design and layout that would be easy to navigate on any device, whether desktop or mobile, would also add a few points to your conversion rate. This is a task where marketing and technical teams can join their forces.     

How to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

Now that you’ve managed to put your finger on the cart abandonment rate, type, and cause, you can finally start searching for a remedy. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions available, you just need to single out the most suitable ones. 

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Platform Adjustments

As a service provider, it’s your mission to turn the shopping process into a smooth experience from the moment a potential client enters the website. How can you do it? Here are some of the most effective ways:

  • Present customers with multiple shipping options. Some people are willing to wait if they get free shipping, but some prefer to pay to receive the order faster. 
  • Revise your checkout process. Is it really necessary to create an account? Are all the existing steps and forms indispensable? If the answer is “No”, get rid of these parts. Keep in mind that according to the Baymard Institute statistics, the ideal checkout flow shouldn’t contain more than 14 elements.
  • Increase trust level by adding a dedicated section for reviews and testimonials, using pictures of real people, and displaying a trust seal. 
  • Add a built-in pricing calculator or simply show the estimated total cost upfront.
  • Be honest about your return policy, make sure the users understand what they sign up for. Provide a money-back guarantee where applicable in order to make shoppers feel safe. Explain the return process beforehand simply and clearly. 
  • Ensure that the payment methods you accept are diverse and secure. Advanced technologies enable plenty of payment options, you are no longer limited to credit cards.
  • Adjust the layout and modify the current design for both desktop and mobile versions of the site to make it more appealing and easy to navigate.  
  • Regularly perform usability and bug testing. Maintain your software properly.  

  Possible payment options..png      
Possible payment options. Retrieved from ASOS.

Improved Communication

It might sound surprising, but in online stores, customers should not be left unattended just because no staff is present. Throughout the selling process, effective communication is always the key to success. Let’s see some useful techniques to nurture potential clients and provide them with the best shopping experience: 

  • Create special offers and time-limited discounts, so people would buy out of fear of missing out.
  • Encourage shoppers to buy right now by offering limited-time coupons and discounts.
  • Make the search easier by adding personalized offers, and recommending related/similar items or services.
  • Ask if they want to save the details of their unfinished purchase or booking for later. While being the simplest measure to implement, it can make a big difference. All you need to do is create a popup message. It should be triggered when users reach for the exit button. 
  • Gather feedback. You can use statistics or trial-and-error methods, but they won’t be as informative as a direct response from your customer. Pop-up messages can serve as the instruments to implement this function as well. Advanced technologies make contemporary popup builders like Claspo so incredibly multifunctional that you can ask people about their experience and suggest saving the content of their carts for later with a series of consecutive popups.   

A discount offer with a data collecting form..png
A discount offer with a data collecting form. Retrieved from Birchbox

Now the only remaining task is to find tools to execute these techniques. Pop-ups can be beneficial because they can present limited offers and giveaways, collect personal data, offer discounts, and conduct small surveys. There are at least 7 ways they can help reduce the number of abandoned carts, especially if you’re using a customizable, genuinely creative, and simple pop-up builder, like Claspo.         

Shopping Cart Recovery

An abandoned shopping cart might seem like a lost cause. But it can still be turned into a completed transaction. Of course, it’s not magic, it requires effort, and if you’re willing to have your customer return, here are some of the methods you can use:

  • Follow-up emails.
  • Retargeting. 

Both tactics aim at reminding users about goods and services they were interested in but didn’t buy. Although the first one is more personalized and allows more possibilities, the other one is suitable even if customers didn’t leave any contact information because it will show them your advertisement while they’re browsing the web and visiting such major platforms as Google or Facebook. This is a major topic, so if you’re interested in the subject, you should check this article on abandoned shopping cart recovery techniques.     


While an abandoned cart is upsetting for anyone involved in e-commerce, it has to be seen as an opportunity. Even if customers don't always go all the way with online purchases, the fact that they have added items to their cart means they can still be reeled in.

Identify what triggered cart abandonment, and then pick the best option to solve it: adjust your forms, redesign the site, add delivery and payment options, and offer discounts. Get creative, and turn this into a beneficial experience for your customer, and for you and your business.

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