Why Do So Many Customers Abandon Their Online Shopping Carts?


July 5, 2016

It’s the dark cloud that hovers over many online retailers: shopping cart abandonment. Online shoppers filling carts full of products only to back out of the purchase at the last minute, leaving the retailer high and dry. Think of it as the ghosting of online sales. Unfortunately for most retailers, shopping cart abandonment has been on the rise. With cart abandonment rates sharply increasing 15% between 2010 and 2015. What’s the reason behind this surge in abandonment? The answers speak volumes about consumers and their buying habits overall.

Statistically speaking, the travel sector has the highest rate of abandonment at 80.1%, compared to 70.4% for retail and 67.6% for fashion. This is largely due to the overall complexity of travel purchases and the amount of information needed during checkout. Travel is also a market that many people play around with while “fantasy shopping.” Planning trips they may never actually embark upon. Cart abandonment rates are lowest at Christmas, which proves that when buyers have a greater intent to purchase (ie: gifts), they are more prone to making snap decisions and taking the buying plunge.

Researchers have found that there are six key factors that tend to lead to shopping cart abandonment, unsurprisingly, most have to do with added fees and overall cost.

Unexpected Shipping Costs:

Nearly 28% of buyers will abandon a shopping cart if there is an unexpected shipping cost. Many online retailers force consumers to enter the checkout process before revealing shipping costs. Even more require that a buyer either enter their email, login, or create an account before they have access to shipping information. After completing that process, many consumers don’t like what see, leading them to abandon the purchase or search for a free shipping code. If the latter comes up empty, the cart will inevitably be left to die.

Account Creation:

If you’ve bought anything online in the past 10 years, it’s likely that you’ve been asked to create an account with the retailer before completing your purchase. While some sites offer a nifty guest checkout feature, most require an account. For some retailers, this can prove a massive barrier to conversion. Compulsory shoppers or those who aren’t overt fans of a particular site don’t want to take the extra steps to create an account. Not only does account creation make the checkout process far longer, but most consumers don’t want the bombardment of emails that often accompanies joining a retail site.

The Need To Compare and Research:

Anyone who shops online will admit to comparing and researching items on several sites before pulling the trigger. We are a compare and contrast society. If we can get the same item on a different site for less, we’re going to go with the more affordable option. Unfortunately retailers can’t really control this aspect of online shopping. Especially since it’s what makes e­-commerce so appealing to most consumers.

Payment Security:

If you’ve seen Mr. Robot or watch the news or simply own a television, there are obvious concerns with payment security in online retail. Having a secure site with barriers set in place increases consumer trust. When a buyer feels as if the site could have potential payment security concerns, they will almost always back out of a purchase. Having a well designed and clear checkout that offers frequent security reassurances during the process can easily keep consumers from abandoning their carts over distrust.

Unclear Checkout Process:

No one likes to feel confused, especially when making an online purchase. Consumers who feel that a checkout process is confusing, lengthy, or unclear will likely abandon the purchase before they even enter their shipping information. A checkout with hurdles shouldn’t exist. A good checkout process should be clear and minimise frustration for shoppers. Payment should be clear, form fields should be easy to find and understand, and there shouldn’t be any more than 4­5 steps in the overall process.

Lack of Coupon Codes:

At the end of the day, a consumer just wants to feel as if they’re getting a good deal. With little discretionary funds to go around in several world economies, it makes sense that most online shoppers would be seeking to save as much as possible. While many consumers will fill a cart on a site, most are apt to abandon that cart if they are unable to find a coupon code or shipping code that could potentially save them a few dollars. Sites that offer frequent codes, free shipping after a certain purchase, and promotions see the dreaded abandonment happen far less than their couponless counterparts.

So how can retailers account for these factors and end abandonment once and for all? Unfortunately, carts will always be abandoned. But a quick way for retailers to recover is to practice on site re­marketing, email re­marketing, and promotional discounts at a frequent rate. Catering to the consumer’s wants and needs is the only way to create higher conversion rates and lower abandonment rates.

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