How to reduce abandoned cart rates

01 March 2021 | Ecommerce

How to reduce abandoned cart rates

Time and money – the two primary reasons for an abandoned cart


As the saying goes, when it comes to business, time is money. And the two are intimately linked in the subject of e-commerce sales. 


Benjamin Franklin made the pithy comment, over 270 years ago in an essay titled “Advice to a Young Tradesman”. Much has changed in the business world since the introduction of e-commerce, let alone over the last couple of centuries, but the old adage still rings true. Take this lengthy opening paragraph for example. You may feel it is eating into your precious work time, and holding you back from doing what you do to earn money.


Just like you, your online customers expect their shopping experience to be smooth with no hidden surprises. They want information presented clearly and the features arranged intuitively. If they incur any frustration relating to time or money, the average customer is most likely to abandon the digital shopping cart. 



What’s an acceptable rate of shopping cart abandonment?

For business managers, the permissible rate of online shopping cart abandonment ranges from 60% to 80%. According to Business2Community, an average of 75% of online shoppers will abandon their purchases before checking out, with some case studies reporting that only 2.86% of visits to online stores will include a purchase.


Shopping Cart Abandonment Reasons

Readycloud reports that the leading reasons for abandoning an online shopping cart include:

  • Presented with unexpected costs
  • Just browsing
  • Found a better price elsewhere
  • Overall price was too expensive
  • Website navigation was too complicated
  • Website crashed
  • Process was taking too long


The main factors affecting purchases and resulting a pile up of disused shopping carts can be grouped under these two main themes – time and money. 


Time… waits for no one. And neither does the average customer

Customers want a simple, convenient shopping experience. Every additional step and data request is a hurdle before the final payment and adds a creeping sense of frustration. The following list of reasons for cart abandonment are all time-related.


  1. Slow website or glitches. A slow website or bad performance can consciously test the customer’s patience and subconsciously affect trust in the service. Some 75 percent of shoppers abandon the shopping cart if they are forced to wait for each page to load. Your website speed is the first element to test and improve.
  2. Site not mobile-friendly. Despite 54% of e-commerce purchases taking place on a mobile device, cart abandonment rates are higher on this platform (81%) because many retailers (or their web developer) have failed to create the user experience with this at the forefront of the design. Device optimisation is particularly important for the checkout process to keep the conversion rates as high as possible.
  3. Time-consuming checkout. Reduce the number of steps, request only the most essential customer information, and use a payment gateway that contributes to a streamlined checkout.
  4. Slow delivery and limited shipping. Customers expect shipping options that will meet their needs and deliver on time. If comparing two services with a similar price, the fastest (and cheapest) arrival date will win every time. The more options you provide, the more flexibility you offer to the customer (see solutions below).
  5. Forced account sign-up. Forcing a member to sign up before you’ve earned their trust is like being forced to go on a blind date against your will. It feels too risky and uncomfortable. It also breaks the purchase cycle by adding an extra step. The alternative is to offer guest check out and encourage membership sign-up after the purchase. If you must demand an email, the best step is the confirmation page where you can offer to keep them updated about their purchase by email.
  6. Excessive upselling. This is another annoyance – an obstruction in the customer’s flow. Too many pop-ups become annoying and slows down the user experience. We recommend a cautious use of lead flows to attract attention and offer value.


Money (and clear pricing)… can buy you happiness 

  1. Lack of payment methods. With so much choice available, it is difficult to cast the net wide enough to provide a payment option for everyone, which inevitably leads to abandoned carts. Make sure you start with the most popular services (Mastercard, Visa, PayPal) and add more specialised payment options to the list as your business grows.
  2. Foreign currency prices. Your physical (brick and mortar) store has a limited catchment area attracting only the shoppers who can travel to your location. Your online store has the reach of the web, worldwide. If customers can’t view pricing in their national currency, they will probably seek out another store. Your website should convert prices to the relevant currency based on the location of the user.
  3. Competitors offering lower prices. There’s not much you can do about this beyond monitoring the market prices and getting yourself into a price war. This is why it helps to conduct a full review of your e-commerce site and optimise the user journey for speed and pricing transparency.
  4. No coupon code offered. Many online shoppers are coupon savvy and know how to find discounts. The solution is to offer customers discount codes. Design your checkout so that code field isn’t a main feature but is still accessible to customers who have one.
  5. Lack of pricing transparency. The final cost at checkout is rarely ever as low as the price of the goods you add to your basket. As common as it is, it’s just as irritating, every time. This is why some shoppers add the goods to the basket so they can calculate the final cost. However, you can set out the pricing information in a way that gives you an advantage over your competitors (see solutions below).



Top tip solutions

Customers prefer to see the costs upfront and certainly don’t like to be surprised by hidden fees. But they will also feel more motivated to make a purchase when they feel they have gained something extra or a discount. 

  1. Everybody hates the tax, man - It’s a no-brainer that taxes should be included in the price of the product. Don’t try and lure people in with lower product prices only to whack them with taxes at the checkout. This only creates a sense of resentment later down the line and leads to abandoned carts.
  2. Make your website shipshape - The sooner the customer knows the shipping costs the better. Shipping fees can be calculated early on at the product page by asking the customer to enter their country (if relevant) and postcode (zip).
  3. Offer free or flat-rate shipping - If available, provide the customer the choice of shipping or in-store pickup. Customers will feel they have made an extra saving by deselecting the shipping option. This helps the business to be competitive in the e-commerce market where the behemoths of the industry (Amazon Prime) can waive the shipping fee. This option allows you to play in that market.


Final thoughts

Our advice to a young tradesman in the era of ecommerce, some 270 years after old Benny Franklin wrote his essay, is that time does equal money. Wasting the time of the consumer will cost your business money. And anything you can do to improve the transparency of pricing and empower the consumer to feel they have control over the pricing, will instil confidence in your brand.


If a customer sees the same price in the checkout as they did when browsing, they are more likely to complete the purchase. If they feel they can recoup some of that money back from the total price at checkout, then they’ll be one happy shopper who feels it was time well spent. 



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