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How to keep customers from abandoning your shopping cart

On average customers abandon items in their online shopping carts 69% of the time (an average from 34 different e-commerce studies). This is a shocking figure. The pessimist sees this as a failure to convert customers, but the optimist sees this as an opportunity to make more sales.
(c) prykhodov -
(c) prykhodov -

Fortunately, there’s plenty your business can do to help customers reach the virtual checkout aisle before and after they leave your website.

1. Don’t hide the cost

According to Statista, the number one reason people leave items in their carts is because they are presented with unexpected costs. Your team can avoid this situation by posting estimated shipping costs and fees alongside product prices. Alternatively, including shipping expenses in the list price or providing free shipping can help complete sales.

Sales tax, of course, will always be difficult to anticipate. It’s often impractical to estimate the tax on a given item(s) because internet sales tax rates vary all the way down to the state level. However, this is at least an additional cost customers have come to expect. Whatever you do, don’t tack on items like service charges at checkout.

2. Keep load times fast and the site stable

Website crashes, long checkout processes, and website timeouts are responsible for 24%, 21%, and 15% of customers leaving unpurchased items in their carts (Statista). It’s essential, then, that your company’s site has sufficient infrastructure to meet customer demand without causing load delays or crashes in order to optimize sales opportunities.

Web monitoring services are a great way to keep an eye on how well your site’s hosting servers are performing. Additionally, load testing can be helpful for understanding how much traffic your company’s site can handle, as well as how to scale (a.k.a. upgrade specific parts of the infrastructure to meet demand) as shopping popularity increases.

3. Improve the user experience

A poor user experience is detrimental to completing sales. Your site should be easy to navigate, and the shopping cart should be easy to manage. Visitors should be able to access the shopping cart quickly at all times, and the cart should be easy to edit. Displaying things like product images in the shopping cart and security logos on the page improve shopper confidence, making your business more likely to convert sales.

It also helps to make registration optional. This is especially important with smaller purchases and new customers, because a customer may not want to spend extra time creating an account for an incidental, one-time expense. Some sites use the entered email address to identify customers instead of login credentials.

4. Ad retargeting and email reminders

Many customers just aren’t ready to make a purchase when they visit your site. In such cases, one of the best ways your company can improve conversion rates is to reach customers after they’ve left your site and remind them of the items they left in their shopping carts. If you’ve ever seen an advertisement on one site for a product you left in a shopping cart on another site, you were actually looking at an advertisement triggered because you left items in the cart. This practice is called ad retargeting, and it can help bring customers back to your site to complete a purchase they initially abandoned. Retargeted ads have click-through rates ten times higher than normal display ads.

Alternatively, if your site uses a login system for making purchases, your business can create personalised emails with pictures of the items, attach product reviews, and send them to customers who've left items in their carts, to entice them to come back and complete the sale. Sending the email between 3 and 12 hours after abandonment produces the best results.

The high abandon rate means that not even one third of online customers actually go through with their intended purchases. This leaves enormous potential for e-commerce actors who take the time and effort to analyse and improve the entire web infrastructure, offering and user experience in a professional manner.

About Sven Hammar

Sven Hammar is co-founder and CEO of Apica, a provider of powerful, best-in-class technology for testing, monitoring, and optimizing the performance of cloud and mobile applications. He has decade-long experience and expertise in web performance and web optimization, e-commerce, cloud services, IT entrepreneurship and the Internet. He is also a serial entrepreneur who has founded several successful IT companies over the years.

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