Shopping Cart Abandonment: Top Reasons & 4 Ways to Reduce (2023)

By Ryan Gould

August 29, 2019

8 minute read

It's clear to most merchants (72% to be exact) that shopping cart abandonment is a real problem.

The good news about shopping cart abandonment is that that 63% of abandoned merchandise is potentially recoverable. The bad news is that the abandonment rate is increasing, with current estimates showing that 70% to 80%of all online shopping carts are abandoned, amounting to roughly$4 trillionin lost sales.

We’ll tackle how retailers can reduce shopping cart abandonment or recover some of these abandoned sales in a bit, but first we want to review the key reasons shopping carts are abandoned in the first place.

Table of Contents:

What is shopping cart abandonment?
The shopping cart abandonment problem
The top 4 reasons shopping carts are abandoned
4 effective ways to reduce and recover abandoned shopping carts

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What is shopping cart abandonment & why track it?

Shopping cart abandonment happens when a potential customer leaves the checkout process before completing their online purchase. This means they have “abandoned” the items added to their shopping carts, either due to a change of heart or after facing difficulty during the checkout process.

To get your shopping cart abandonment rate, simply divide the total number of completed transactions by the total number of shopping carts initiated - then, subtract this from 1 and multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

Shopping cart abandonment rate is a useful metric to help business owners identify the percentage of customers who do not complete a purchase, and more importantly, figure out why. By tracking your shopping cart abandonment rate, you can uncover a broken sales funnel or find improvements in the customer experience. Improving these processes can have a significant impact on your bottom line! Let’s drill down a little more, shall we?

The shopping cart abandonment problem

People don’t always shop with the intent to buy. Sometimes, you just want to see what’s out there and adding something to your cart is the easiest way to bookmark a product while you’re still in research mode.

In a 2017 study of over 1,700 online shoppers, the Baymard Institute revealed that nearly59% of peopleabandon their shopping carts because they’re just browsing and aren’t ready to make a purchase. The study segmented these browsers out so they could focus on the real reasons that people abandon their carts and a lot of these reasons aren’t surprising.

The top 4 reasons shopping carts are abandoned

There are ten reasons listed in the Baymard study, and we’re going to review the top four reasons since most of them can be easily fixed with the exception, perhaps, of shipping costs. Although one can argue that high shipping can also be remedied by offering users flat-fee shipping, some type of discount or requiring a minimum order amount to qualify for free shipping.

1.) Shipping costs

The number one reason that people abandon shopping carts is because they encounter extra costs - specifically, shipping, tax and other fees. While this may not be any easy fix for some retailers, it’s important to understand the hard truth - people don’t want to pay for shipping. In a recent survey of 1,400 shoppers, a staggering91% of consumersindicated that free shipping would make them a repeat customer and 67% indicated they would add more items to their cart to receive free shipping.

2.) Being forced to create an account to check out

The Baymard study revealed that 37% of people abandon their carts because they’re forced to create an account before completing their purchase. Astudy by Moovweb, a mobile web ecommerce platform, revealed that conversion rates for shoppers who use guest check-in and those who were logged in were identical and that the logged in users spent an average of 10% more than guest users. Even so, there’s still a strong case to be made for giving users the guest checkout option. The Moovweb study revealed that mobile shoppers are 1.2x more likely to select guest checkout rather than logging in and that guest checkout tends to improve mobile conversion rates.

3.) Long checkout process

The Baymard study’s third top reason that users abandon their carts was due to a long or complicated checkout process. Nearly 30% of US online shoppers have abandoned an order due to this reason. Even slow load times on your checkout pages can lead to cart abandonment. Baymard did a large-scale usability study on the checkout process which revealed that checkout flow could be simplified to as little as 12-14 form elements (7-8 if only including form fields), but most US ecommerce sites contain over 23 elements (14 if only including form fields).

4.) Hidden costs

23% of people interviewed by Baymard indicated that they abandoned their shopping cart merchandise because they couldn’t get their total order cost up-front.This is directly tied to the #1 reason for cart abandonment - extra costs, particularly shipping costs.

4 effective ways to reduce and recover abandoned shopping carts

There are various ways you can optimize your checkout and cart recovery process to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rates. We go over 4 of the most effective methods below.

1.) Send checkout recovery emails

Checkout recovery emails (e.g., Hey, you forgot something!) are an effective way to recover sales from abandoned carts. According to Omnisend,46% of peoplewith open cart abandonment emails, 13% click on the email and 35% of people who click end up buying something Here are a few ways you can sweeten the pot for undecided shoppers:

  • Offer a discount (e.g., 15% off all items in your cart)
  • Keep the message short and sweet (e.g., Still shopping?)
  • Communicate urgency (e.g., Get your items in 2 days if you order today!)

To do send checkout recovery emails, you of course need the shopper's email address. You can capture it through onsite displays like pop ups or flyouts that are triggered upon exit intent.

Shopping Cart Abandonment: Top Reasons & 4 Ways to Reduce (1)

2.) Simplify your checkout process

Use a progress indicator if you, like most online retailers, have a multi-stage checkout process and try to keep the checkout process to less than 5 steps.

3.) Incentivize customers with a discount

People love a bargain. Roughly 145 million Americans are expected to use digital coupons. Emails containing coupons offer a 48% increase in revenue per email, an important statistic to consider when crafting your checkout recovery emails.

4.) Offer guest checkout as an option

In the retail world, all potential customerswould happily create an account before completing their purchase. However, we live in an imperfect world where people crave options. One option, as mentioned above, is to offer guest checkout. Users can simply enter their credit card information (or other payment methods) without having to jump through the hoops of creating a permanent account. Another is to allow people to login via their Facebook, Google, or another social media account.

Final thoughts on shopping cart abandonment

While we focused on the top four reasons people abandon their shopping carts, it's important to look at the big picture when considering shopping cart abandonment. Familiarize yourself with all of the top issues listed in the Baymard study, and try to address each one of them.

When you discount the window shoppers and tire kickers, many true abandonment issues are connected to each other. When taken together, the various issues tell a larger story. Shipping prices and other added costs may not be a dealer breaker (for example), but when combined with other road blocks such as website errors, slow delivery times, and a poor or nonexistent return policy, lack of free shipping may be what causes a consumer to ditch their cart.

The good news is that potential is huge to recover some of those abandoned carts. By crafting recovery emails withgreat subject lines, offering incentives such as discounts or free items, and ensuring that the checkout process is simple, mobile-friendly and secure, you can recover some of those potentially lost sales and gain new, loyal customers in the process.

Ryan GouldShopping Cart Abandonment: Top Reasons & 4 Ways to Reduce (2)
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services
Elevation Marketing

From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively align sales and marketing teams within organizations.

Topics:Ecommerce Marketing


Shopping Cart Abandonment: Top Reasons & 4 Ways to Reduce? ›

You can start by reminding shoppers that they have abandoned their cart, then a friendly call to finish the purchase. If they're still not budging, provide a compelling offer. (But you'll want to make sure that you don't encourage cart abandonment so shoppers can unlock the deal.)

What are the main reasons for cart abandonment? ›

These are the top 14 reasons for abandoning the shopping cart:
  • High additional costs (taxes, shipping, and other fees) ...
  • Forced account creation. ...
  • Complicated, time-consuming checkout. ...
  • Inability to calculate total costs upfront. ...
  • Security concerns. ...
  • Slow delivery and limited shipping options. ...
  • Major website performance issues.

How do you target abandonment carts? ›

You can start by reminding shoppers that they have abandoned their cart, then a friendly call to finish the purchase. If they're still not budging, provide a compelling offer. (But you'll want to make sure that you don't encourage cart abandonment so shoppers can unlock the deal.)

How to recover abandoned carts better than your competitors? ›

7 strategies to turn abandoned carts into sales
  1. Display shipping options on your product pages. ...
  2. Give customers a guest checkout option. ...
  3. Create a comprehensive return policy and link to it from multiple places. ...
  4. Offering multiple payment methods at checkout. ...
  5. Exit intent pop-ups. ...
  6. Sending cart recovery emails. ...
  7. Retargeting ads.
Feb 3, 2022

How can I improve my shopping cart? ›

10 Ways to Improve Shopping Cart Conversions
  1. Be consistent in design. ...
  2. Stress security. ...
  3. Find the balance. ...
  4. Use simple language. ...
  5. Plan out a clear path for shoppers. ...
  6. Link out to policies and information. ...
  7. Be clear about shipping options and costs. ...
  8. Add a review step.

Why do customers abandon checkout? ›

High additional costs at checkout

Adding fees at checkout makes them start this process over, rethinking the value of the purchase. If there are too many additional fees that were not indicated before, customers are likely to leave checkout to find a better option.

What is abandoned cart management? ›

Shopping cart abandonment is when a potential customer starts a check out process for an online order but drops out of the process before completing the purchase.

How do I turn abandoned carts into sales? ›

Here are the fastest, most effective ways to recover abandoned carts starting today.
  1. Offer Discounts With Exit Intent Popups. ...
  2. Use Social Proof to Discourage Cart Abandonment. ...
  3. Create Urgency. ...
  4. Offer Free Shipping. ...
  5. Display Shipping Costs. ...
  6. Make Saving Carts Easy. ...
  7. Enable Guest Checkout. ...
  8. Abandoned Cart Emails.
May 9, 2023

What is a good abandon cart recovery rate? ›

The conclusion: If your abandoned cart recovery rate is above 10%, you are doing a decent job.

What is a good checkout abandonment rate? ›

The average checkout abandonment over the past ten years has fluctuated between 60 - 80%. If you are within this range, you should be trying to decrease the rate of abandoned checkouts. A bad checkout abandonment is anything higher than 90%.

How do you save carts? ›

  1. Store Upright. Carts should always be stored upright. ...
  2. Store at Room Temperature. Cartridges should never be stored in hot or cold temperatures - temperatures of under 50 degrees and over 80 degrees should be avoided as these can lead to malfunction of the cartridge. ...
  3. Minimize Exposure to Light.

How does cart abandonment affect inventory? ›

If there are slots tied up in abandoned carts, customers won't be able to purchase them. And since these reservations are only available for a certain amount of time, you could lose out on these sales entirely. Items left in abandoned shopping carts can result in skewed data about things like: Your available stock.

What is the shopping cart trick? ›

The shopping cart trick is merely a way to get pre-approved for store credit cards. Basically, you can trick a retailer's website into thinking you're going to buy something by adding items to your shopping cart and beginning to check out.

What can I do with abandoned shopping carts? ›

What can you do if you see an abandoned cart? Call the store that owns the cart and request that the cart be retrieved.

What is the average shopping cart abandonment? ›

Almost 70% of shoppers abandon their carts

The average cart abandonment rate is 69.99%, according to Baymard Institute. This is an average of 48 shopping cart abandonment studies, which range from 56% to 81%.

Why are people adding to cart but not converting? ›

Trust, or lack-off trust, competes with shipping costs for the number one reason why people abandon their cart. People are taking a leap of faith when they shop online. They need to trust that the product is as good as you say it is.

Why do customers quit buying? ›

There are many reasons why customers don't buy a product or service. In some cases, it's because they can't find what they're looking for. In others, the price is too high. And sometimes, the customer just doesn't trust the business enough to make a purchase.

What is a cart abandonment flow? ›

A cart abandonment flow is the entire process of email recovery efforts that are kicked off when a shopper abandons a cart. It begins when an item is added to a cart and ends when a customer has returned to make a purchase.

What is abandoned cart saver? ›

The Abandoned Cart Saver is a built-in tool that sends an email invitation to customers who have added an item to their cart but left before completing checkout. The emails are customizable and can be combined with coupons to entice your shoppers to complete their purchase.

Why are businesses concerned about shopping cart abandonment? ›

You're Losing Sales and Customers

The most obvious problem with shopping cart abandonment is you're missing out on a sale. A lost sale means you lost a customer as well, whether their order was small or large.

How can you convert customers who have abandoned add to cart? ›

9 Proven Ways to Convert Your Abandoned Carts
  1. Remind Customers of Their Abandoned Cart. ...
  2. Retargeting Through Google Ads. ...
  3. Provide Multiple Payment Options at Checkout. ...
  4. Conduct Personal Email Outreach. ...
  5. Use Exit-Intent Pop-ups. ...
  6. Show Related Items to Users. ...
  7. Excellent Customer Service. ...
  8. Provide an Incentive.
Apr 13, 2023

How can abandonment rate be reduced? ›

Let's go over some techniques that you can use to lower your call abandonment rate.
  1. Occupy your customers while they're on the line. ...
  2. Offer virtual queuing (call-back service). ...
  3. Schedule more agents to work during peak times. ...
  4. Let customers know how long they're going to wait.
Feb 9, 2022

Why do shoppers abandon carts? ›

Unexpected high costs.

Extra costs are by far one of the biggest deal-breakers for shoppers, especially when they're completely unexpected. Whatever the costs may be — shipping, taxes and other service fees — they're a leading cause for cart abandonment.

What is the difference between cart abandonment and checkout abandonment? ›

As the name implies, cart abandonment is a phenomenon on e-commerce sites when shoppers add items to their carts, but leave before checking out. Checkout abandonment, on the other hand, occurs when a customer initiates the checkout process for in-cart items, but doesn't complete it.

Why don't people put their carts away? ›

Some believe the receptacle is simply too far from their spot (also known as laziness), while others blame it on young children who can't be left unattended or Mother Nature's untimely downpours.

How do you make an empty cart last longer? ›

Tips to Make your THC & CBD Oil Cartridges Last Longer
  1. #1 When you vape, make sure that you are inhaling the vapor into the lungs.
  2. #3 Switch off between oil and flower.
  3. #4 Be aware of the temperature you're vaping at.
  4. #5 Leave your cartridges in a cool and dry place.
  5. #6 Always keep your cartridge up right.

How do carts go bad? ›

If you use the cart and then store it, the cannabinoids are more likely to oxidize, which reduces their potency. A cart stored before being used will probably maintain its strength longer. After two years, it's best to toss the cart and move on to something fresher.

How long do carts last unused? ›

The expiration date on most vape cartridges purchased from a licensed seller is usually one year from the date of manufacturing. However, regardless of the expiration date on the container, how long a vape cart lasts – its shelf life — is determined by how well you care for it.

What percentage of people abandon cart? ›

Based on the data we collected, we've calculated the average cart abandonment rate of 69.99%. This value is an average calculated based on 48 different studies containing statistics on e-commerce shopping cart abandonment.

What is a high cart abandonment rate? ›

The typical shopping cart abandonment rate for online retailers varies between 60% and 80%, with an average of 71.4%. It is claimed that the best optimized checkout process has an abandonment rate of 20%.

What is the shopping cart problem? ›

The Big Problem with the Shopping Cart Theory

To reduce “goodness” to physical ability is a textbook example of ableism. Many customers are physically incapable of returning a cart to the store, whether it be due to disability, or children that can't be left unattended.

How do you beat locking shopping carts? ›

These different approaches to the same problem have one thing in common: Both can be defeated by simply keeping the locking wheel a few feet above the perimeter line, usually by doing a quick shopping-cart wheelie as you cross.

What stores does the cart trick work at? ›

Where Can You Use the Shopping Cart Trick?
  • Abercrombie & Fitch.
  • Ann Taylor.
  • Bath & Body Works.
  • Brylane Home.
  • Buckle.
  • Children's Place.
  • Coldwater Creek.
  • Express.
Jun 23, 2022

How common is cart abandonment? ›

Almost 70% of shoppers abandon their carts

The average cart abandonment rate is 69.99%, according to Baymard Institute. This is an average of 48 shopping cart abandonment studies, which range from 56% to 81%.

What has a higher cart abandonment rate? ›

Industry Benchmarks

A higher than normal abandonment rate could be caused by a variety of reasons including a complex checkout process, shipping costs, required sign up, or limited payment options.

Why do people add to cart and not purchase? ›

Trust, or lack-off trust, competes with shipping costs for the number one reason why people abandon their cart. People are taking a leap of faith when they shop online. They need to trust that the product is as good as you say it is. They need to trust that they can return it if they don't like it.

Why are there so many abandoned carts on Shopify? ›

Shopify cart abandonment is when a customer adds items to their online shopping cart on a Shopify store, but then fails to complete the purchase. Shopping cart abandonment is common due to difficult checkout processes, high shipping costs, and wishful thinking.

What is a good abandoned checkout rate? ›

A good checkout abandonment rate is lower than 40%. It is argued that the best optimized abandonment rate is approximately 20%, as it is unlikely that it will ever reach zero. Users will still drop off due to declined payment, research and browsing, and for reasons beyond the seller's control.

What is the shopping cart rule? ›

The Shopping Cart Theory states whether a person places their cart back into the rack rather than leaving it wherever they please determines the goodness of that person.

What is the number one reason online shoppers abandon their shopping carts? ›

While high shipping cost is the biggest reason consumers abandon carts, other factors also contribute to cart abandonment. As a business owner or marketer, you must be familiar with the other reasons for cart abandonment and ways to reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase conversions on your website.

Why is the shopping cart trick not working? ›

One of the most common reasons the shopping cart trick reportedly doesn't work is that the store card in question isn't eligible. Only specific store cards, most of which come from Comenity Bank, are said to work with the shopping cart trick.

How do I reduce abandoned cart rate on Shopify? ›

Simplify your checkout process to avoid cart abandonment

At a minimum you'll need an image, price, description, purchase button, and a checkout page that lists all items in the cart along with payment and shipping options. Use clear product images, videos, and detailed descriptions on your product pages.

Does shopping cart abandonment hurt retailers? ›

On a global scale, cart abandonment costs retailers $4.6 trillion a year. An estimated $260 billion is recoverable. Recouping even a small percentage of abandoned transactions can yield significant revenue gains for your business.


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