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Cart abandonment

Top 10 Reasons (and solutions) for Shopping Cart Abandonment

The average eCommerce store loses 75% of their sales to digital cart abandonment.

This article breaks down the top reasons for cart abandonment (and how to prevent it). We look at examples and best practices from companies such as, Target, Sephora, and more.

If you'd like to skip the stats and head straight to the number one reason for cart abandonment, click here

Free Resource (no opt-in): Our complete data-driven roadmap to reduce shopping cart abandonment. Click here to view.

Top 10 Reasons for Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment is a problem. As we shared in the intro, it is estimated the average store loses over 75% of sales due to cart abandonment. More detailed studies show some industries losing as much as 83.6% of potential sales due to cart abandonment (you can see a full list of cart abandonment statistics here).

If you are unfamiliar with cart abandonment, it is a common behavior in eCommerce shopping where a shopper adds an item to their cart, but fails to complete their purchase. 

Below we share some comprehensive resources on why customers abandon sales.

1. What is the primary reason for digial buyers to abandon their carts?

reasons for cart abandonment

Source: Statista

2. The most impactful reasons customers leave shopping seasons without completing purchase

Understanding why your visitors abandon carts.

Looking at both studies gives us incredible insight as to how you can eliminate cart abandonment.

The first study only asks what the primary cause for abandoning is. 

Meanwhile, the second study asks what all the reasons are for cart abandonment. 

We can now rank cart abandonment causes by both probability (how likely will your visitors be effected) and impact (how much does this cause matter).


Probability Rank

Impact Rank

Unexpected Shipping Costs



Having to create a new account



Was just conducting research 



Concerns about payment security



Long and Confusing Checkout



Couldn't find a coupon code



No express shipping



I couldn't calculate payment upfront



Website had errors/crashes



Return policy wasn't satisfactory



Credit Card was declined



1. Unexpected shipping cost

Probability Rank: 1

Impact Rank: 1

Hidden costs are the primary reason your visitors leave without purchasing, ranking first in both probability and impact.

25% of customers specifically cited shipping costs as the primary reason driving them away.

However, you should also pay heed to other hidden costs such as taxes or required complementary items which have a similar effect.

These costs cause an immediate annoyance and irritation. In some cases, it can even propel consumers to feel remorse for purchasing.

How to profitably stop cart abandonment by removing shipping costs

The most obvious solution to high shipping costs is to remove them. 

However, depending on your product mix, this may not be feasible. One excellent tactic is to bundle the extra cost of shipping into the product cost itself.

Above, Drunk Elephant uses a personalized message bar to let customers know they can bypass shipping fees if they meet a certain threshold. This is a great way to increase AOV and conversions, and is all made possible with personalization software tools

If you can't lower costs, fully disclose them. The best place to do this is on the product page. 

Transparency is valued highly by digital shoppers, and is crucial for store success.

The best course of action is to state all costs from the outset.

CPCstrategy found that free shipping is deemed "critical" to 73% of customers to make a purchase and will encourage 93% of shoppers to buy more online.

2. Having to create a new user account

Probability Rank: 3

Impact Rank: 2

Your customers expect convenience. Customers want to do things quickly and have instant results.

Spending more time and effort than expected is a significant source of friction. 22% of cart abandoners do not complete their purchase when they are required to create a new user account, and 28% of all shoppers say that it is a reason why they've abandoned carts.

Reduce cart abandonment with guest checkout like Lululemon

To state the obvious, don't force first time buyers to create an account before they can complete their order. Offer guest checkout.

Above, Lululemon brings you straight to guest checkout if you are not logged in. They dynamically display a text widget asking if you have an account. However, if you don't you can immediately begin the checkout process. 

As a bonus, you should consider other points of friction in the checkout process. The goal is to limit the time and effort needed from customers. 

3. Conducting research to buy later.

Probability Rank: 2

Impact Rank: 3

Some cart abandonment is impossible to eliminate.

Today, online shoppers use the internet for more than buying. They research products, brands, and deals. 

Often, customers will add items to a cart in order to easily reference items. It is not uncommon for customers to exit a store with the full intent of coming back. In fact, many will return several times before making a purchase.

How to respond to shoppers researching products

The truth is, the majority of your visitors will not complete their purchase immediately. 

Retail trends show a clear shift toward the "omnichannel shopper". Customers are researching first, and completing their purchase often on a different device or channel entirely. 

In our last major study, we found the most effective way to curtail cart abandonment is to move up funnel with customer service oriented emails such as "email my cart" or "visit summary" offers. 

In the example above, a customer who added an item to their cart is about to leave. When Barilliance sees the motion to move to a separate page, it triggers this pop-up, giving our client an ability to connect with otherwise lost customers.

Create Email My Cart Campaigns: Upgrade your triggered email platform. Request a demo here

4. Concerns about payment security

Probability Rank: 7

Impact Rank: 4

Payment security is the first cart abandonment reason that has a major disparity between it's probability and impact rating.

It makes sense.

When you are concerned about security, it has a dramatic effect.

Major causes for suspicion include design flaws, outdated layouts, missing images, and no SSL certificate.

How to reduce shopping cart abandonment with trust

There are many ways you can increase trust on your site.

The easiest method is through various forms of social proof to assure customers that you are a trustworthy store. This processs ought to be part of optimizing product pages.

Use customer testimonials. Use product reviews. Use endorsements. Provide full contact information, such as a phone number and even faces and bios of you and your workers.

All of these factors let your customer know they are working with a real person who cares about their experience and will take care of their personal information.

5. Long and confusing checkout.

Probability Rank: 4

Impact Rank: 5

This top 10 reason for cart abandonment is similar to number 2 (creating a new user account).

Long and confusing checkout processes are annoying to customers. Oftentimes, unnecessary forms contribute to unease and can even become confusing. All of this contributes to a poor experience, resulting in 28% of shoppers to abandoning their carts.

The solution??

Minimize form elements. Only ask for necessary information.

Additionally, streamline your site's navigation. Reducing the "number of screens" from initiation to completion is a great way to reduce time.

6. Couldn't find a coupon code.

Probability Rank: N/A

Impact Rank: 6

Some customers chase deals. If they can't find a coupon or promotional codes, they will go and look for one elsewhere.

According to Statista, a full 8% of customers cite not being able to find a coupon code as the primary reason for abandoning their cart - opting instead to  wait until one shows up and try and find a better deal elsewhere.

Unfortunately, some checkout processes encourage the feeling of missing out. This happens most often when a coupon code search bar is near the checkout. The presence of this field promotes the idea that they are paying too much.

The solution??

It is best practice to auto-apply coupons when able.

Most carts have the ability to pass through parameters through the URL, and can be applied via emails or pop-ups.

From Klaviyo's study on cart abandonment:
" cart abandonment emails that included a coupon code had an above average open rate (44.37%) and click-through rate (10.85%)."

7. No Express Shipping Available.

Probability Rank: 8

Impact Rank: 7

If you haven’t noticed yet, customers care a lot about shipping.

While the cost of shipping is a top reason for cart abandonment, speed of shipping poses a significant threat to large purchases.

We all procrastinate (well, 95% of us according to Pies Steel, human resource professor). Important purchases are often time constrained. Think of birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, or emergencies.

If your store is unable to deliver the goods in time, customers are forced to abandon their carts.

The solution??

The tragedy is that in all of these cases, customers are willing to spend more.

If you need to charge more for express shipping, do so. Customers are more willing to spend for expedited shipping, and you will benefit greatly from providing this option.

Free Cart Abandonment Audit: Get a complete audit on your checkout process, with screenshots and next actions to takeRequest Here. 

8. Website had errors/crashes

Probability Rank: 6

Impact Rank: N/A

The rest of these cart abandonment causes do not rank in the impact study performed by Statista. 

However, that does't mean that these issues should be ignored. Website errors, crashes, and load times are major deterrents to completing purchase, and contribute to a sense of insecurity on the site. 

The solution??

Focusing on the customer experience is paramount. 

Make sure that you are regularly going through your site, from home page to checkout, ensuring that your site is still up to date and there are no issues. 

You should perform these checks across a variety of screen sizes, especially as mobile continues to grow in importance

You can check site speed through a number of free services. We most often use Pingdom and Google Pagespeed Insights. 

9. Return Policy Wasn't Satisfactory

Probability Rank: 9

Impact Rank: N/A

Up to 66% of shoppers say that they would spend more with a generous return policy.

Unfortunately, many stores put hard limits on their returns. This can take two forms. First, policies that restrict too much time. Second, policies that charge for the return, usually in the form of shipping.

The solution??

Make sure you are able to track the number of returns and costs associated.

Then, begin offering a free, 30 day shipping. Run the test for a month or two and see what lift, if any, occurs for your industry and demographic. Compare this to the added costs of such a policy, and see if free 30 day return is a profitable strategy for you.

10. Credit Card Was Declined

Probability Rank: 10

Impact Rank: N/A

Nothing really to say here..., so we're going to throw in an extra reason that pops up fairly often.

According to profitwell, the most common form of involuntary  churn is credit card failures. Here they outline a number of possible solutions, including optimizing forms to update payment information and creating a payment recovery plan.

11: Lack of Customer Support

Probability Rank: N/A

Impact Rank: N/A

Lastly, lack of support is detrimental to shopping cart abandonment rates.

Customers expect service and convenience. A study conducted by LiverPerson found that 83% of online shoppers want help while they are on site. Over half (51%) said that they are more likely to make a purchase if they had customer support such as live chat during the session.

The solution??

How can you provide more support throughout your shopping experience? If you do not offer live chat, experiment. Like the 30 day free shipping, invest in the technology for a month or two. Measure lift in sales.

Bonus Case Study: Why Shoppers Abandon Carts Video

While conducting research, we found a great, in-depth case study on Zara. Zara is one of the leading brands in the world, and they have taken great measures to protect themselves against abandoned carts.

The video is below. Watch it for a real life walk through on how to actively combat cart abandonment and eCommerce best practices(click here to view in Youtube).

Free Bonus: Click here to get access to a free PDF field guide that shows you 19 tactics to increase email opt-ins - the most essential step in shopping cart abandonment.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Solutions

Many types of solutions have been develped to reduce shopping cart abandonment. Below is a brief overview of the type of solutions.

1. Create multi-step cart abandonment campaigns ft. Target

The most obvious solution to cart abandonment are triggered based shopping cart abandonment campaigns.

As we've shown, there are many reasons for cart abandonment. Multi-step campaigns are effective because you can use them to address these reasons progressively, and ultimately have more chances to convert the prospect.

Below is an example of a multi-step campaign from Target. In this campaign, the first email was sent on three days after the cart was abandoned. 

As you can see, the primary focus of the email is on product discovery.

The subject line reads: "Kitchen & Dining Furniture: Come back & see what's new.", and the body features an embedded personalized product recommendation widget based on the abandoned session (in this case furniture).

Fast forward a few emails, and you see a completely different email, focused on specific items, price reductions, and urgency.

2. Decrease shopping cart abandonment with better welcome campaigns ft. Sephora

Your welcome campaign is an excellent opportunity to remove barriers to a prospect's first purchase. 

While many rely on direct discounting, Sephora takes the opportunity to introduce new visitors to their loyalty program, Beauty Insider, which they automatically enroll subscribers to.

The email outlines the major benefits of being on the newsletter. Benefits to Beauty Insider include free classes, gifts, and bonus rewards for making purchases.

3. Leverage customer data platforms to retarget customers ft. Facebook

Messenger marketing represents one of the biggest opportunities to reduce cart abandonment. Over the last decade, Messenger adoption has grown at a staggering pace.

Better still, messenger apps promise much, much better engagement when compared to other channels. 

Barilliance allows you to send your shopping cart abandonment campaigns via FB Messenger. Below is a screenshot of such a campaign.

4. Leverage demographic data  to present better offers ft. Amazon

Better offers improve conversions. One way to create better offers to use demographic data, including time of year and holidays.

Below, Amazon recognizes that Mother's Day presents a clear reason to complete a purchase. They inject a number of personalized mother day widgets. The offer is clear: grab a gift to celebrate your mother. 

Next Steps...

The next step is building out your cart abandonment strategy. We've put together a number of successful cart abandonment emails here

If you'd like to learn more, you can also check out our full Guide on Cart Abandonment here.

Lastly, if you would like to learn more about how Barilliance helps hundreds of leading retailers lower cart abandonment, request a demo here.

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