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Shopping cart abandonment: main reasons and solutions

Shopping cart abandonment: main reasons and solutions

Updated: 14 October 2021 • Reading time: 8 minutes

In the insight “SCA and its effect on shopping cart abandonment” where we talked about Strong Customer Authentication, SCA compliance and SCA exemption, we answered the question: Why is shopping cart abandonment a problem for retailers and what are the effects of shopping cart abandonment? In this article we will dive in the top reasons for cart abandonment and solutions on how to get back the customers who dropped off at the checkout stage.

Reasons for shopping cart abandonment

According to different researches done worldwide, the most common reasons are:

  • delivery charge;
  • missing item in stock (size, colour etc.);
  • no intention to buy (browsing intention);
  • change of mind due to the cost.

These four reasons are also the top reasons for high shopping cart abandonment rate reported in the UK in 2019 in fashion industry, even though in Q2 2020 it was reported in the UK that approximately a third of online shoppers that account for abandoned carts due to various reasons still comes back to purchase from the same website, while 26% proceed to purchase from competitors, but the overall cart abandonment rate experienced a YoY increase, according to Royal Mail’s survey “Delivery Matters UK” in 2019 and 2020.

The primary worldwide reason for abandoned carts is the same as the one reported in the UK’s fashion industry – delivery cost is higher than anticipated¹ (41% of the respondents), another main reason is again the initial intention was different from purchasing, such as price benchmarking (29%). The other top reasons for abandoned digital carts worth mentioning, because 18%-29% of respondents reported them as primary in the same survey, are the following:

  • not wanting the product anymore;
  • item was out of stock;
  • estimated delivery was too long;
  • item wasn’t going to be delivered in time;
  • no preferred payment method was available;
  • deciding to purchase from another website.

The last two reasons are a testimony to an ever-increasing need in a frictionless transaction among customers.

In 2021, after the pandemic started, in the USA, in particular, additional reasons for abandoned carts were identified, according to Baymard Institute²:

  1. Lack of motivation to create an account on the website they purchase from, which can be considered as a barrier to purchase and not wanting to be authenticated;
  2. Encountering too much friction during the check-out process, which testifies yet again for the desire of a frictionless payment experience;
  3. The lack of trust to the website;
  4. Unclear total order cost indication;
  5. Website not working properly and/or crashing;
  6. Return policies were unsatisfactory;
  7. Not enough payment methods available;
  8. Payment/credit card declined
  9. Re-entering credit card or shipping info needed.

It is evident that many of the reasons identified above in the UK, US and worldwide cause distrust in potential customers, and in order to reduce digital shopping cart abandonment effects, the trust needs to be gained by tackling most problems presented, such as trustworthy user-friendly website, transparent prices at the checkout, better delivery conditions, credit card payment SCA compliance, and use of SCA exemptions to give customers a frictionless transaction. As well as many payment methods as possible, for this you might want to consider integrating Payment Orchestraᵀᴹ into your business.

Since we already explained in the insight on SCA in detail digital shopping cart abandonment effects on business and now customers’ reasons and motivations, let’s get to the answer to the question: how to reduce cart abandonment? There are many shopping cart abandonment solutions and ways to recover the abandoned carts, we will discuss 4 of them.

Abandoned cart recovery: some tips and solutions

The real challenge in how to reduce cart abandonment lies in identifying the ideal mix of initiatives for your website and adoption of solutions that can contribute to higher conversion rate, lower shopping cart abandonment rate and improvement of the customer shopping experience.

Improve your marketing mix: E-mail and advertising

Marketing mix in your company plays a huge role in the shopping cart abandonment rate, in particular, through e-mail communications and retargeting through display advertising. These are among the most important activities to optimise in order to reduce a users’ drop-off. The process of sending e-mails to potential customers who have not completed the purchase, so called "lead nurturing", is intended to encourage the completion of the purchase. Collection of customers’ e-mail addresses with promotional consent given during some point of the Customer Journey is essential for planning the e-mail communications that are sent out manually or automatically. They should contain a clear CTA (Call to Action), goal-focused message, and when possible be personal, for which you would need a demographic or psychographic data to create an effective personalized and targeted communication to each Persona. You can also attach content or products of interest, that redirect back to the website, based on the abandoned card.

Regarding personalized display advertising, use cookies to intercept customers even after they left the website, and create personalized advertising messages for them if they interacted with your brand through any online touchpoint. You can always promote the products for which users showed interest through the retargeting campaign. Of course, all the marketing suggestions listed above can be modified and adjusted and do not necessarily have to be followed all together. It may be useful to try different marketing combinations of these shopping cart abandonment solutions and identify the winning formula with targeted A/B testing, for each type of Persona that abandoned the products.

Improve the payment experience: the shopping cart page optimization

The graphic aspect and the text content of an Ecommerce can make a difference to abandonment rates, not only those of the digital shopping cart but also of the other sections of the website. The cart represents the pre-purchase stage (immediately preceding that of payment), therefore, it is a delicate moment in the purchase process. Here are some steps to take to make the product details page more effective:

  • Show the list of products with all essential information (e.g. name and photo of the product, color, number of items selected, price, etc.)
  • Optimise navigation even for mobile devices, making sure that all information is easily accessible even from displays of different sizes.
  • Integrate plugins for collecting information that will be useful throughout the purchase stage and to improve the results of lead nurturing activities.
  • Make sure that the button to complete the payment is visible and easily clickable, also in this case, both from mobile and from desktop and at least in the most popular browsers.

As with the rest of the website, the user experience must be at an excellent level, even for any last-minute changes such as deleting or adding items, or with real-time updating of product availability. If we use a real-life analogy with the offline world, the shopping cart corresponds to the queue in front of the cashier of a physical store: the smaller the queue, the greater the probability that the customer purchases and returns. Same goes for the digital shopping carts, the stronger the friction, the smaller the possibility of the customer to return, therefore, the customer is likelier to return if they had a frictionless payment experience.

How to create a Frictionless Checkout process

Those who arrive at the payment page have passed the shopping cart stage to arrive at the final moment of the purchase: payment. Here is what you should consider at this stage:

  • Adoption of solutions that speed up the opening of the payment page, without barriers or obstacles, this is a strategic action and can make a difference in the drop-off rate. In the case of websites developed through CMS, it is advisable to use official plugins to connect the website to the gateway. Axerve, for example, offers official and always updated plugins for the main CRM platforms.
  • Offer a payment experience consistent with the rest of the purchase journey. An example would be to integrate a graphically similar to the rest of the website and coordinated checkout page. Redirecting to the payment service provider (PSP) page can discourage shoppers by creating a feeling of disorientation.
  • Choose your payment solutions carefully. One would think that a high number of payment solutions always corresponds to a greater number of sales probabilities. In reality, an excess of choice, combined with a confusing overloaded demonstration of the tools on the checkout page, can create confusion and, consequently, make customers give up in the final act.
  • Consider adopting a Payment Orchestration platform and integrate it into your business, the advantage is that of automatic instant connection the best gateway available without partnering with singular PSPs but still having all the same advantages and more, such as a frictionless transaction.

All of the factors above are essential elements in reducing the likelihood of shopping cart abandonment and also contribute to customer loyalty.

In this article we have seen how to transform the abandoned cart into a sales opportunity, not only improving the conversion rate but also contributing to cross and up-selling thanks to various shopping cart abandonment solutions. In conclusion, it is good to remember that there is no formula applicable to all Ecommerce websites: the real challenge to overcome, when it comes to reducing shopping cart abandonment rate, is to find the right path and solutions integration for your online store, bearing in mind that any result can be improved by testing and adopting new solutions.

To learn more about this topic watch the video below.

UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ Report, 2019


The Average Checkout Flow Has 14.88 Form Fields – Twice as Many as Necessary, 2021

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