eCommerce

How to tackle shopping cart abandonment

January 14, 2021 7 min read

Why do shoppers abandon their carts in the middle of their transaction? The answer is going to be different for every person, but here are the most common reasons for shopping cart abandonment and what businesses can do about it.

Unlimint team
Your payment experts

The retail industry has undergone a significant change over the past decade and continues to embrace new trends and quickly evolve. Being an indispensable part of our daily lives, it enables consumers to purchase goods or services with their smartphones, get same-day delivery, and arrange hassle-free returns. A consumer finally is a king. 

But while these trends provide great opportunities, they also present challenges for companies that are badly equipped to take new technology and meet all customers’ expectations. 

You may believe that you do everything right, and that cart abandonment is only a problem other companies have. You can launch the most outstanding product and spend nights tweaking the offers on your site. Or invest lots of money on advertising, attract influencers, and provide discounts—still, most of your shopping carts will be abandoned.

The figures aren’t that pretty. 

In March 2020, 88% of all online shopping orders were abandoned. 

When we think about shopping cart abandonment, the first thing that comes to mind is clothing stores. The reality is that there is shopping cart abandonment across every industry that does business online.

Online shopping cart abandonment rate by industries

Online shopping cart abandonment rate by industries, March 2020 [source]

What can eCommerce companies do to retain customers and move them across the finish line of a completed transaction? To answer that, we should examine why customers leave with items in their carts. 

Why shoppers abandon their carts

In the eCommerce world, the term cart abandonment means leaving without fully completing your desired response. For most retailers that means an incomplete order. 

The checkout screen is the last impression your customers are going to get, but also the most important. This is where the difference between a shopper and a customer happens. Which brings us to the question of why shoppers abandon their carts in the middle of their transaction? The answer is going to be different for every person, but here are the most common reasons why transactions aren’t completed.


1. Hidden or unexpectedly high costs

For consumers, there’s nothing as frustrating as getting to the end of the checkout just to be hit with high or unexpected costs. This is the primary reason people abandon their carts with more than 63% of shoppers in the United States leaving due to high shipping costs. More than 40% of Mexican shoppers leave their carts for the same reason. This proves that unreasonably shipping cost is an instant deal-breaker when it comes to ordering goods.

2. Mandatory account creation for checkout

Just because a consumer is making a purchase does not automatically mean they want to log in to your site or receive marketing emails from your business. Requiring an account creation for checkout can be a turn-off for many hurrying shoppers, who may want to take their business to your competitors. 

3. Unclear or unsatisfactory return and refund policy

An unclear or unsatisfactory return policy is another reason that shoppers jump ship. A reported 23% of European shoppers stated that an unclear return policy is the reason for abandoning their purchase. Most consumers want to ensure their goods can be returned if they don’t work out. 

4. Missing desirable payment options

When doing business in the United States or Europe, credit cards or services like PayPal are regular forms of payment for many customers. However, if you are planning to do business with Latin American countries, you should take into consideration their financial specifics.

Nearly 70% of the population in Latin America is unbanked, and around 20% of the population in Latin American countries have credit cards. Most of these cards are for domestic purchases only and can’t be used for buying from an international website. That’s why companies have to rethink the way they handle payments. Ignoring local payment options like cash payments, mobile wallets, and other forms is a sure way to lose customer loyalty.

5. Unsuitable delivery times

Delivery time greatly influences a shopper’s decision to purchase from a certain retailer. According to the Consumer Trends Report, 63% of consumers in the United States expect a delivery time of three days to receive their goods. Even the customer with the highest intentions of completing their transaction can abandon their cart over poor delivery conditions. We are in a world of instant gratification, and online shopping limits that mildly. But no customer wants to wait weeks to receive their product. Especially if they can purchase it elsewhere with faster delivery. 

Solutions for reducing cart abandonment

According to Forrester research, $18 billion in revenue is lost each year because of shopping cart abandonment. Perhaps it’s time to consider a change of course. 

Here are the small changes you can make to reduce cart abandonment and increase your revenue.

Rethink the way you handle payments

A negative payment experience can turn even the most loyal customer against a retailer very quickly, rendering all of the marketing efforts useless. With access to multiple payment methods, 20% of European shoppers abandon carts because of the lack of international payment options. What about other markets where shoppers are limited with payment options even more? For example, in countries like Brazil, cash still remains the most popular payment method for 70% of people.  

This does not mean you need to accept every form of modern-day payment method, but you should be offering the options that are most relevant for your target customers. 

At Unlimint, we provide thousands of locally popular payment methods through one API, taking away all the work of finding and providing them by yourself. Get in touch today and discover alternative payment methods that will increase your sales tomorrow. 

Be crystal clear about shipping costs

As shipping plays a major role in cart abandonment, you should use eCommerce shipping best practices: offer free shipping as much as possible, even if it means customers must hit a certain price point to qualify. 

It is also important to make shipping costs transparent. No one wants to be met with unexpected shipping rates. The same is true for delivery times. Most consumers want their purchases as fast as possible. As shipping delays can be a part of the industry, keep open communication with your customer. Being transparent about how long delivery takes can help win customer’s loyalty.

Make your return policy transparent

Customers want to know that the company standing behind the product offers a fully transparent return policy. Providing customers with the opportunity to see how you will handle returns or exchanges is another way to gain customer loyalty. In fact, around 30% of consumers felt that the return policy was an important factor in their purchasing decision.

Simple, fast navigation and an easy-to-use site

Navigation between the shopping cart and your store should be fast and efficient. Long downtimes and slow page loads will end a shopping experience quickly, but if you can offer quick page loads and easy navigation, you greatly improve the chances of a completed transaction. Stores, where visitors can view the cart at all times, are even more successful in having their purchases completed.

Offering guest check out instead of requiring account creation is another important way to ensure transaction completion. Not everyone wants to create an account at every store they shop with.

Superior customer service matters

Another easy fix to exiting before completion is the inability to ask questions. By offering features like live chats, you are showing your customers that you care about their shopping experience and you are there to answer any questions they may have, in real-time. No need to wait 24-48 hours for an email that usually never comes. Live support with knowledgeable employees is the right way to convert your shopper. 

Re-engage a potential lost sale

For those shoppers who try to abandon their carts early, having an exit-intent pop up can sometimes reroute them back to their purchase. Usually, these are pop-ups that tell customers you are sad to see them go, and many times offer a discount or coupon code to complete their transaction. 

If a customer does exit, the very best follow up action is a personalized email reminding them of their cart and asking them to come back to complete their purchase. Sometimes the ask to return is all it takes. 

Create an emotional attachment to your brand

With more spending power and unlimited choice, our generation, however, has much lower emotional brand attachment. Product diversity and high brand switching are placing customer loyalty at the lowest level. Just think about it: a shopper can compare prices and shipping terms on several sites and make a cold-blooded decision free of emotional bias. In this environment, online retailers should develop new ideas to grab customers’ attention and speak to their hearts. 

Businesses can employ any emotional branding, like creating a personalized consumer experience on the site, providing outstanding in-person support, or even giving customers an opportunity to feel like a part of a team. 

High-quality products and lower costs are no longer the bargaining chip—emotional rewards are. 

Positive experience always wins

Customers who experience a positive payment transaction do more for your business than just boost your revenue with one sale. They become loyal. Alternatively, a negative payment experience will lead to dissatisfied customers that negates all of your advertising and marketing investments. 

An abandoned cart is more than just a missed sale. That abandonment breaks a long sales funnel that ultimately leads to additional costs. Offering payment options that work for your target audience is the bridge between a continued consumer relationship and an abandoned cart.

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