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Top 5 reasons for shopping cart abandonment



A customer browses your eCommerce site, and at some point finds one or more items they want to buy so they add them to their cart. Then for whatever reason, they change their mind at the last minute and choose not to follow through with the purchase.

Getting inside the customer’s head at that very moment and understanding the reasons behind their change of heart can be the difference between a stagnant company drifting along, and a thriving online brand looking to expand.

Depending on the industry, between 65 and 80% of carts are abandoned. The travel industry leads the way with the highest cart abandonment rate, while retail sits at around 75%. Cart abandonment happens to every online business on the planet, and while you’ll never get the percentage to zero, even a small drop can lead to significant returns. 

The frustration of cart abandonment comes from knowing just how close you were to the sale. A person who adds items to their cart is interested in making a purchase from your store. So, what exactly stopped them? Listed below are five of the top reasons for cart abandonment and some ideas to minimize their impact on your business.

#1. Insufficient payment options

Whether it’s a credit card, digital wallet, bank transfer, or something else, every online shopper has a preferred way of paying for things. 

Shoppers quickly get stuck in their ways, and if they get to the checkout and don’t see their favorite payment option, they are very likely to abandon the purchase altogether. Switching to an alternative payment method might require setting up a new account or remembering an old login. That extra step is often too much to ask of consumers, and they would rather go elsewhere.

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While this problem is often framed in terms of B2C transactions, it also occurs in B2B markets. Not every business has flexible bill payment systems to simplify their accounts payable, and vendors must find ways to facilitate a wide range of B2B payment methods. Unlike B2C purchases, this means selling on credit and developing ironclad net terms to ensure the timely transfer of funds.

Regardless of whether it’s a B2C or B2B transaction, modern online companies need to offer flexible payment options based on the preferences of their target demographic. Online brands typically partner with a payment solutions provider to simplify the integration of multiple payment methods.

#2. High shipping costs

One of the main reasons people abandon their carts is high shipping costs. They identify what they want to buy and then realize the cost of shipping pushes the transaction above their price range.

Surprising customers with high shipping costs is a user experience issue for the website. You need to find ways to show shipping costs earlier in the process. Ideally, online brands are able to keep shipping costs low or find ways to incorporate this expense into the price while still maintaining their profit margins. Nothing solves this problem quite like offering free shipping on every item.

#3. Unfavorable return policies

Another common reason for failing to complete an online purchase is the customer discovering the return policy and backing out. Again, people don’t want to learn about an unfavorable returns policy late in the process. Businesses should therefore be upfront about how they are handled.

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In the world of eCommerce, return policies are a significant selling point. Developing competitive policies in line or better than your competitors can help attract customers to your site. 

It’s even wise to offer improved returns policies around Christmas or Valentines Day. When people buy each other gifts, they’re much more likely to complete a purchase with the knowledge that they won’t be burned if they have to return it.

#4. Security concerns

The rate of cyberattacks seems to be increasing with each passing day, and consumers are becoming increasingly conscious about keeping their data safe, particularly their financial information. A shopper may like the product and its price, yet not feel comfortable entering their payment information when they get to the checkout.

Modern websites need to have a professional look, reassuring customers. Poor site design, broken links, and slow performance are all red flags that something may not be quite right, leading to customers abandoning their carts rather than entering payment information. 

Businesses can reassure customers by investing in their web design and hosting. Perhaps more importantly, they can work with trusted payment service providers that guarantee a secure payment experience.

#5. Lengthy checkout processes

Any barrier you put in the way, no matter how small it may feel to you, can increase rates of cart abandonment. The more pages between the shopper clicking to pay and the completion of the transaction, the more chances there are for them to back out. When designing your site, you want to make the checkout process as seamless as possible.

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This includes not forcing customers to make an account in order to purchase. The added barrier of creating an account is a surefire way to increase your cart abandonment rate. You want them to have nothing new to think about between hitting buy and the funds being transferred.

Many sites now offer guest checkouts, so all shoppers need to enter is an email address, payment information, and delivery instructions. You can add the account creation to the end of the process prompting users to quickly sign up to simplify the process for the next time they visit your site. This helps increase the chances of a repeat purchase without complicating the initial transaction.

Catching customers who slip through the cracks

Cart abandonment is one of the most frustrating parts of running an online business. You can put a number to all of the sales you almost converted and calculate the profits you could have had.

However, there are plenty of ways to reduce cart abandonment rates and claw back some of that revenue, including:

  • Offering flexible payment options
  • Being upfront about shipping and returns
  • Making customers feel secure using your site
  • Simplifying the checkout process

Additionally, you can now track cart abandonments and link them to specific accounts. This enables you to send targeted follow-up marketing material via email. Often just a little nudge or a small discount can get customers to follow through with their initial purchase intent.

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