Why are customers abandoning their shopping cart?

Why are customers abandoning their shopping cart?


When it comes to online shopping, every eCommerce store has a big cart-abandonment problem. And some of those lost shoppers simply can’t be converted — they weren’t all that interested in the first place, and no matter what you say, they’re not going to finish their purchase.

However, some of these can be converted, which is why having an effective cart abandonment email is so important. More than 40 percent of cart abandonment emails are opened, 50 percent of those opened emails are clicked, and 50 percent of those who clicked ultimately purchased.

No matter how you look at it, it’s a huge problem for online retailers. According to an article from Tamebay.com, in 2016, the average cart abandonment rate was a staggering 77 percent. Then in 2017, it rose to 78 percent. And even worse, for 2019 it was 79%.

Still, how can you stop reasonable consumers — the ones who actually want to purchase — from bailing in the first place? Here are the top five reasons that people abandon their shopping cart. And fortunately, each one is pretty easy to fix on your end.

  • Unexpected shipping costs

According to the same study mentioned above, by far, the number one reason for cart abandonment is because of unexpected fees, such as shipping fees, handling fees, etc.

Imagine going through the checkout process on an eCommerce site for something you genuinely want to buy and, when you’re just about finished, that product is more expensive than it said it was going to be. There’s no getting around it; it’s a poor experience for the customer, they somehow feel betrayed. It makes them feel like they’re getting bamboozled.


Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: Don’t surprise people with shipping costs, taxes or other fees until the end of the checkout process. Just include all of those costs in the original price of the product. That way, when someone is about to click “Submit Order,” there are no nasty surprises that might derail their conversion. The point here is to let them know before-hand, make it clear that shipping and/or handling will cost this much. Or if it’s free – that’s even better, we have an entire article explaining how including the shipping cost in the product’s price and offering free shipping can lead to a lot more conversions.

  • A poor user experience

This tends to happen when the checkout process is too long, clunky, or even confusing. Shockingly, 28 percent of people abandon their shopping cart for this reason, according to the same study. 28%!

Just think about how many sales you’ve lost because your checkout process is dodgy or clunky. Think about how much you have to invest in order to make the checkout process very smooth – we will tell you – not a whole lot. It’s easy to streamline the checkout process, and this could lead to many more conversions.

When someone wants to buy from you, let them buy from you. Make it as easy as possible. During the checkout process, don’t require them to enter unnecessary information, don’t add survey questions, and don’t complicate what should be a fairly simple transaction.

  • Having to create an account

This is my personal favorite, I simply hate being forced to create an account when I really, really do not want to.

When a customer clicks “Checkout Now,” they want to purchase the product. The best thing you can do is get out of their way. Redirecting them to a page that says, “Create Your Account Now!” isn’t just abrasive, it’s also totally irrelevant to what they wanted to do (i.e. buy a product).

Think about it like this, you’ve managed to attract the customer to your website. You’ve made them add a product to the cart. They are 100% ready to seal the deal, and you lose the deal because you’re making them create an account and making them complete yet another form with their name, etc. All that effort wasted just because you, as a seller, insisted that they have to create an account.


So ditch the mandatory account-creation (or add a “Check Out as a Guest” option), and just get their email address at the same time you get their shipping information. Most people won’t mind, so long as it feels like a natural part of the checkout process.

  • Security/payment concerns

Someone might love your product, they might love your site, and they might be ready to purchase right now. But if they don’t trust your site with their payment information, they’re not going to finish their purchase – it’s as simple as that.

Make sure your payment process is 100% secure, and be sure to let your future customer know that the payment is secure. Security badges such as PayPal, Norton, etc. usually help finalise the conversion.

  • Bad returns policy

The truth is, no business wants/likes to get returns, but in 2020, there’s no way around that. You have to offer returns to your customers, even free returns if possible. I personally know I’d never buy from a website that doesn’t offer returns. What if I don’t like the product? What if the t-shirt doesn’t fit me? Or, what if the product isn’t working as advertised?

These are all real customer concerns, and ignoring them might lead you to an abandoned cart.

To sum up

No matter how much a business optimizes its eCommerce experience, it will inevitably lose shoppers even after they’ve created a shopping cart and begun the checkout process. It’s in a company’s best interest to minimize those losses, but they also need to prepare to recapture the shoppers they lose. This is where retargeting comes in to remind consumers of their interest in a product and get them one step closer to converting after they’ve left.


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