Some estimates say the average eCommerce store loses 75% of their sales to digital cart abandonment.
In other words, if you can improve your cart abandonment rate, you improve your profits.
This article looks at the top reasons for cart abandonment. We break down examples and best practices from successful stores to address these reasons, and ultimately flush out a strategy to improve conversions.
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.
Note: This post has been updated to reflect the current top reasons for cart abandonment in 2020.
Top 10 Reasons for Cart Abandonment
Cart abandonment is a problem for retailers. The average eCommerce store loses over 75% of its sales to cart abandonment. Some industries experience average cart abandonment as high as 83.6%.
There are many studies exploring why visitors add items to their cart just to leave your site without making a purcahse.
Two of the most cited resources are below.
Source: Baymard Institute
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 take. Request 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.