Although we’re sure you that you’ll never overcome cart abandonment totally, it may be enough that you keep and lure back just a few percent of your abandoning shoppers – because that will result in a nice rise in revenues.
We’re going to cover the following topics:
- What is shopping cart abandonment?
- What is the value of cart abandonment rate in reality?
- Why do shoppers abandon their carts?
- Numbers you need to know
- It’s not because of the price – not that way
- Cart abandonment and regional aspects
- Abandoned carts, different industries
- Information and conversion
- Show all important information in time
- Why is it crucial?
- You communicate inappropriately?
- Is free shipping that important?
- Show all important information in time
- Optimize your website
- Complex navigation
- Complicated checkout?
- Do not ask for registration
- Do care about the words you use (and test them)
- “I’ve found it elsewhere at a better price”
- Remarketing & retargeting
- Follow your potential customer
- Remarketing in email
- What to write in the email?
- Launch a loyalty programme
- Cart abandonment on mobile
- Why the smartphone user bounces?
- The way to keep mobile using shoppers
- An app can be a good idea
- Filter strongly who you send push notifications to
- Make your timing perfect
- “If only one basket of dirt is missing…”
What is shopping cart abandonment?
Shopping cart abandonment is one of the most serious common problem for online store owners, so it is very likely you face this beast every day too.
Since there is absolutely no negative consequence of abandoning your cart during an online purchase process and then leaving the store, cart abandonment rate is very high.
Many look at this with a wondering face, because if someone has already firmly expressed their purchase intention by adding products to the cart, why don’t they finish the checkout process?
What is the actual cart abandonment rate?
A look at overall statistics can give us an idea. Luckily, it is a well examined field so there’s no need to make a big effort to find relevant data.
However, there are differences depending on which source you take.
The Baymard Institute has been searching through the relevant sites for years and has gathered figures for cart abandonment from more than 37 reliable sources.
Based on this, the average global cart abandonment rate is 69.23% (January 2017). Please not that this figure is calculated from different data dating back several years at times. A more up-to-date figure (but only from three sources) is the average of Listrak’s, Adobe’s and Barilliance’s calculated rates, which is: 74,1% (January 2017).
Based on this, the average global cart abandonment rate is 69.23% (January 2017).
Please not that this figure is calculated from different data dating back several years at times.
A more up-to-date figure (but only from three sources) is the average of Listrak’s, Adobe’s and Barilliance’s calculated rates, which is: 74,1% (January 2017).
As this rate is increasing year by year, experts predict this number to go as high as 90% in a few years.
Researches indicate that online shoppers leave products approx. $4 trillion (4 thousand billion) worth a year. According to BI Intelligence, 63% of it could be recovered.
It is important not to regard the abandoned cart as a loss.
We’ll see that one of the main reasons for cart abandonment is that the user just “saves the products for later”, creating a shopping list and later they return and make the purchase.
In other cases they simply buy the same product elsewhere – they don’t cancel the purchase, but they choose a different offer with a different online shop.
So abandonments don’t produce losses, but provide opportunities.
From big brands to tiny online stores, everyone faces the issue of cart abandonment, but only a few do something to convince the hesitating shoppers.
Why do shoppers abandon their carts?
The first answer that seems very logical is that they “changed their mind”. Statistics, however, show a great number of different reasons for shopping cart abandonment (Baymard Institute):
- 61% ‒ Extra costs too high
- 35% ‒ Registration required
- 27% ‒ Too complicated checkout process
- 24% ‒ No up-front total order cost visible
- 22% ‒ Website had errors or crashed
- 18% ‒ Didn’t trust the website with credit card details
- 16% ‒ Too slow delivery
- 10% ‒ Returns policy not satisfactory
- 8% ‒ Not enough payment methods
- 5% ‒ Credit card was declined
It is clear that you cannot solve all these problems with a single solution, as these issues differ significantly from each other. In the following we’ll take a look at all reasons for not finishing the purchase one by one and suggest solutions accordingly.
Numbers you need to know
It’s not because of the price – not that way
It also seems logical to say that the higher the price the more customers quit the whole thing in the end.
But it’s not true.
So there is a psychological limit or point here at around $100, which is worth keeping in mind.
It can be so because it is easier to rationalize bigger purchases. Comparing expensive products is generally more difficult because these are usually more complex products. E.g. with a piece of clothing it’s enough to examine 2-3 attributes, while with a TV set that costs hundreds of dollars, dozens of features can be compared.
It is also likely that commitment towards a more expensive product can be stronger, a more serious buying intention and a more urgent need may be behind it.
And it is always easier to give up buying a cheaper product: you leave a key ring or mug in the store without any worries, but a vacuum cleaner or fridge that suits your expectations is much harder to forget about.
Who knows when comes another chance to get it? (Buy the way, for this kind of consumer insight you can effectively apply the scarcity sales technique.)
The psychology of pricing is, of course, a much more sophisticated field – the very detailed study by ConversionXL can be an ideal starting point to get familiar with the topic.
Cart abandonment and regional aspects
The global statistics for shopping cart abandonment are rather uniform, but it can also be noted that there can be significant differences in terms of regions.
According to the data of SaleCycle the global map of cart abandonment rates looks like this:
- 74% in North America
- 75.3% in Latin America
- 70.9% in Europe
- 76.3% in the Asia-Pacific region
- 76.1% in Africa and the Middle East
There are, of course, other remarkable (e.g. cultural) differences that can be exploited smartly by e-merchants.
For instance, researches suggest that in the Pacific Region more shoppers tend to abandon their carts, but they are less sensitive to shipping costs or payment options.
In North America, free delivery is of very high importance, almost a basic expectation when someone puts an order online. Half of the customers abandon their carts immediately if they see some shipping cost (to be covered later in more detail).
Also, similarly to Europe, here the shopping cart abandonment rate is lower because the users are more focused, they are less likely to forget about finishing their shopping.
South Americans seem to postpone their online transactions more, but they care more about payment options – those who want to conquer this market, will need to offer several payment choices.
As we can see, there are lots of different characteristics, which means that there are no general solutions to cart abandonment. Based on your own research and experience, you can detect several problem areas, but you mustn’t forget that there is still a big pile of reasons for cart abandonment – to be discussed soon.
Abandoned carts, different industries
- The rate is highest in the travel industry (Statista: 80.4%, SaleCycle: 80.1%).
- The financial sector has just a little lower rate (Statista: 79.3%).
- Retail’s figure stays a tiny bit below the overall abandonment rate (Statista: 73.9%, SaleCycle: 74.6%).
- For e-games it’s even lower (Statista: 70.1%).
- Finally, fashion seems to be one of the best performers (Statista: 68.3%, SaleCycle: 68.8%).
Information and conversion
Show all important information in time
Why is it so important?
Because the most frequent reason why shoppers abandon their carts is encountering unexpected costs when they about to pay. According to several researches this is why some 50-60% of customers leave the online store without buying anything.
It is the shipping cost that most ecommerce stores “forget” to show in time. But there are a lot of shoppers as well (24-32%) that don’t pay special attention to what they add to their basket and leave when they finally see the total sum.
To avoid giving such unpleasant surprises to your customers, it is wise to show the total of their actual purchase, including EVERY additional cost, on every page they see during the shopping process.
You communicate inappropriately?
It can also be that you simply don’t tell the important things in the right way.
For example, there can be a number of problems in terms of locations. If you can define the geographic location of a shopper, based on the IP address, then it should be obvious that you show the prices in their currency so as to avoid surprising them in a negative way.
Is free shipping that important?
It may sound odd at first, but we definitely suggest offering free shipping with every purchase.
73% of the shoppers say that unconditional free delivery is a very important factor when making an online purchase.
Shipping costs can be included in your prices. You can even communicate this: although you have a little higher prices, all products are delivered free.
This may “catch” those who would leave your store otherwise, but can also help raise average cart value: if you communicate clearly and smartly that shipping is free the chances are greater that the shopper will happily spend more.
Furthermore, according to the stats from Deloitte, for 20% of the shoppers it is a top reason to shop with a particular online store.
You can also provide free shipping if a condition is met, thus urging your target group to do something specific. Many online shops set a minimal total order amount to be reached for free shipping.
We’ve talked about the $100 psychological barrier – if you can find this kind of level for your own store, where the cart abandonment rate peaks, and here, at this price level, you show the message of free shipping, you’ll probably manage to convert a lot more customers.
Optimize your website
There are many who abandon their carts because of a complicated payment or shopping process.
Basically this is the situation with an online store that has a complex navigation and it is very easy for the user to switch to another store where he hopes to have a better experience.
Let’s see the most common problems with complexity that can be handled with optimization.
Complex navigation can be a reason for quitting the shopping process with 25% of the visitors.
Navigation as such is rather intuitive – the next step should always be quite obvious in the process. Don’t expect to create a perfect navigation process right at the beginning. More likely, it will take some lengthy testing before being able to optimize your website to match the exact needs of your shoppers.
Simplicity, here too, can be a great advantage!
Complicated checkout process?
If you take a look at the data of Baymard Institute you’ll soon realize that simplifying the checkout process is one of your most important tasks. They studied this field for 7 years and came to the conclusion that a 35.26% increase in conversion rate can be reached on average through better checkout design.
How to make the checkout process simpler?
- include as few steps as possible,
- require as few data as possible,
- never ever set registration as a condition for shoppers to be able to give their money to you.
Don’t overwhelm your customers with extra tasks. Make it possible for them to be able to get to the payment stage right after providing the required data.
According to Baymard, the ideal checkout flow would consist of 12-14 form elements – yet, an average US online store features about twice as many. (An element is not a page, but a single piece of information the user is required to give, e.g. surname, email etc.)
Again, simplicity can be the solution: if you can help it, use as few check points as possible at which the user needs to take action.
You can also eliminate security doubts in advance: display certifications of security on your page, show customer feedback and reviews to suggest that your store is regularly visited by tons of satisfied visitors.
Do not ask for registration
Registration is simply a pain in the neck for most shoppers.
If a user account registration is needed for making a purchase, it unnecessarily elongates the shopping process with several additional steps.
If you run your store requiring a registration, you have good chances that you’ll experience an extremely high cart abandonment rate with small-amount purchases. (Who’d want to register, and possibly expose themselves to advertising campaigns, just to have a T-shirt for a few bucks?)
So it’s obvious: registration should ALWAYS be optional and always offer the possibility of shopping as a guest visitor.
Make registration attractive by offering some kind of a premium experience, loyalty programme or something else (to be discussed later).
We don’t just say this. Every research proves that giving up required registration can vastly improve conversion figures. For example, User Interface Engineering measured a 45% rise in sales after making registration optional on their site.
Do care about the words you use (and test them)
First, it does matter what words you use with navigation or when giving information.
A fine example for that is the case study of Insound: they changed the wording of the CTA button in the checkout from “Continue” to “Review Order”. The result?
An 8% increase in the conversion rate from 30.5% to 39.4%.
In this example the reason behind this is probably that the second version is more concrete. If possible, don’t use the word “Continue”, instead, try to refer to what is going on in the process, where the user gets to after clicking the button.
It’s highly recommended to re-read and double check all wordings from button texts to product descriptions. It has significance how specific or factual the text is or how you can influence the feelings of your customers, i.e. what words you use to convince them to take action now or reinforce a sense of security in them for instance.
How would you tell a customer that he can safely provide his personal data?
We won’t steal your data!
We always handle your data securely.
The first one may seem direct, thus sympathetic, but experience shows that positive messages are always stronger and more convincing.
“I’ve found it elsewhere at a better price”
You can deal with this kind of feedback in two ways.
Continuous competitor monitoring: if you see they start operating at lower prices you take action. It can be effective sometimes, but in the majority of cases such price war is devastating.
If you keep your prices low all the time, it cuts into your profits and you may also lose those shoppers that were willing to purchase from you at higher prices. “Why have you become cheaper? Your product is not worth that money anymore? You could have sold that cheaper from the beginning?” They might ask.
And if the special offer ends, those may leave you who came just because of the discounts. Or they can choose to step aside and wait for the next cheap deal. But it is likely that such postponed purchases will never take place in reality.
The second method is way more effective. Although it may hold back less visitors to leave you for other sites, still, those who you’ll keep will spend more with you. So you’ll increase average cart value.
This method is about telling them WHY your prices are higher.
You’ll need some strategic and copywriting skills to do that right.
There must be a good reason for charging higher prices. For instance, this can be faster and high quality support or free shipping with every purchase.
It can also work that, beyond “plain” shopping, you offer a premium experience: e.g. membership for loyal customers with exclusive deals, membership in a special group, access to extra content or to a dedicated client service.
If you think that shoppers don’t really spend more on the same or very similar product, just think again. How can the popular premium brands make a living? The somewhat higher manufacturing costs do not justify the premium pricing – people pay more for brands and not necessarily for specific products.
Remarketing & retargeting
- It is a crucial stat that if you target abandoners with remarketing, and if you manage to lure them back to your store, they will spend 55% more on average with each purchase from then on than those who converted right at the first time.
- The average open rate of simple marketing emails is 21% according to SaleCycle – while remarketing emails are opened by 54% of the users.
- Besides, the conversion rate of clicked-through remarketing emails is also very high, approx. 30%!
You already have some kind of valuable information about the ones who you can reach with remarketing, and statistics show that using different remarketing techniques based on that information can covert shoppers way better.
Follow your potential customer!
Time is your most limited resource. For many years, lots of marketing experts have been talking about this, especially online marketing professionals.
According to MIT, 90% of leads go cold after an hour.
Thus, if you intend to use remarketing, you’d better be fast: you should reach your potential customer with a to-the-point offer to have them return to your store.
- offer them a one-time discount,
- free shipping,
- call their attention that the given offer is valid only for 24 hours,
- stocks are limited etc.
We’ve already written about what remarketing tools you can use and how to utilize different retargeting techniques.
If you feel that you still need some tutorial in this topic, do read these posts to learn a bunch of useful techniques:
However, if we talk about a returning customer that has abandoned his cart, it’s a different story – you can reach out to him at a later time, because there is already some kind of loyalty towards you, he knows you and it’s likely that you know his contact information.
In such a case it’s worth trying a more personal approach:
Remarketing in email
If you know the email address of your shoppers, you have good chances to lure them back to your store.
When to send out remarketing emails?
Radley London runs an ecommerce store selling different accessories. With the help of SaleCycle they targeted their cart abandoners in email. After running tests, they came to the conclusion that the ideal time for sending emails is half an hour after the abandonment took place. Finally they managed to convert 7.9% of their abandoners.
Configuring such a remarketing process, especially if an expert partner is involved, is relatively easy.
The example of Boot Barn is worth a look as well: they created a series of emails. The first was sent out 20 minutes after the time of the cart abandonment.
After 23 hours, the next email was sent to those who still did not finish their purchase. The last reminder email was sent when a week had passed. This campaign was closed with a result of a 12% growth in revenues.
There’s no need to worry even if you’re not that fast sending out the first email. Listrak’s report says that you can achieve an open rate of 40% and a click-through rate of 20% with emails sent to abandoners within 3 hours, which are great figures too.
What to write in the email?
You should pay a great deal of attention to the text here. First, you need to decide whether you want to use a positive or a negative emotional approach.
You may evoke a negative emotional response with messages that say that the shopper will miss something or will be left out of something if they don’t act in a given time.
This time you apply the scarcity technique in a way that you work with the well-known psychological phenomenon of “Fear of missing out” (FoMO) or fear of regret.
Here you can help in the positive decision making by showing comments of satisfied customers or simply telling how many shoppers have bought that same product.
You may doubt, but these basic “tricks” can further raise the likelihood of conversion (the theory of social proof or informational social influence supports this approach.)
Here, a negative emotional reaction is not directed at you, but is generated within the shopper. However, positive messages that trigger positive feelings usually work better.
You can paraphrase your message like this: “We have saved your selected products” or “We still store your chosen items”
I.e. we still have them, we take care of them, you can buy them any time. They are in your cart, they are yours – you only need to finish what you started earlier.
With such messages you should emphasize that they practically own the items they put in the cart (well, yes, they still need to pay for them).
An email subject of “We keep your vacuum cleaner for you” can be powerful. You should achieve that the shopper feels strong that the product is already theirs.
Launch a loyalty programme
To retain your returning customers, it’s a great idea to run a loyalty programme.
Most people like feeling that they’re special and being treated in an exceptional way.
By creating a club, an inner circle to which you offer a kind of premium experience, you can reduce the rate of cart abandonment.
According to Forrester Research, participants of a loyalty programme spend 13% more on average than regular shoppers and you can also raise the number of visits by 20% with exclusive offers only for members.
Of course, with loyalty programmes a registration is needed, which is an extra step that is required ‒ not really preferred by 40-50% of users. (Here it’s worth mentioning the research of BI Intelligence, where 39.1% of the shoppers abandon their carts because of the lengthy checkout process that also includes creating an account.)
That’s why you should introduce your loyalty programme as an option and never as a mandatory step.
A loyalty programme is also an opportunity to communicate more actively with your loyal customers, and thus you can more easily get customer feedback and reviews.
In return, you can give reward points to your shoppers to be redeemed for certain discounts in order to make them even more committed towards you.
You can use these reviews to encourage hesitating customers to make a purchase decision.
Cart abandonment on mobile
In a separate post we covered the growth trends in mobile commerce (mCommerce). There is a number of reasons why it takes more time than expected for mobile ecommerce to expand in a faster rate compared to desktop use.
Probably it is mostly the “fault” of e-merchants rather than of users who usually adapt to new technologies very quickly.
Statistics show a steady rise – 2016’s Black Friday in the US saw a 40% mCommerce share of all sales. This is a truly relevant figure since this is the most significant period for retailers in the whole year.
Stats also show that the cart abandonment rate is even higher for mobile phones than for desktop or tablet, now it is approx. 78%.
This resonates well with other statistics that suggest that 40% of users go over to a competitor to make a purchase if they encounter a bad mobile user experience.
Note: 84% of users have already had a bad experience when they tried to make a mobile transaction of some kind.
Why smartphone users bounce?
The most common reasons for shopping cart abandonment on mobile do not significantly differ from that of desktop. We’ve already mentioned these reasons earlier in this post (see the Baymard Institute stats at “Why do shoppers abandon their carts?” above).
Baymard Institute lists the following reasons for abandonments during checkout taking into account both mobile and desktop computers:
When looking at abandonment rates measured in the Black Friday period, there is a considerable difference between the devices. On desktops the cart abandonment rate was 63.8% while on mobile it was 78.1%. (We’ve mentioned earlier that conversion is also better on desktop (20.8%) than on mobile (14.1%) in this same festive period.)
Ventureburn, too, mentions reasons that are mainly in connection with page use, user interface and complex processes, like poor design, slow page speed, badly displayed forms, lengthy checkout etc.
It is clear that all of us want convenience, so it is not surprising that on a small screen we wish to see the simplest and easiest interface possible.
If an ecommerce store cannot provide that, we immediately leave the site for another one that gives us exactly what we desire.
The way to keep mobile using shoppers
Now we present a couple of methods that can help to convert more shoppers that use smartphones when visiting your online shop.
Before trying to elaborate some complex strategies, start by checking how user friendly your store’s mobile platform is.
We’re not talking just about optimization here. Yes, you need to take care of layout features and design, if they work smoothly on all devices etc.
But it’s truly worth thinking over how you could make navigation simpler and the checkout and payment process shorter than on desktop.
An app can be a good idea
If you can run an appropriate awareness campaign for your own ecommerce app, then you may give it a serious thought to have one created. It shouldn’t just be a selling platform, but a great marketing tool as well.
- send push notifications reaching the user any time you’d like,
- promote your pieces of content,
- create a kind of a loyalty programme, based on a shopping game with rewards at different shopping stages for example.
It may well worth the effort to create your app or selling your products or services through an existing one because according to recent stats 54% of mobile users make their purchases with an app.
Filter strongly who you send push notifications to
You can send push notifications via your web page as well, you do not need to use an app for that. It can be a good way to reach out to your cart abandoners, since they show a significant level of commitment if they approve push notifications from you.
But you should not target everybody.
It’s worth segmenting carefully because if you send messages to the user’s mobile, may this be very effective in reaching the user, it is a very direct and personal way of communication that can, in fact, alienate many people.
Therefore push notifications may work well with those that have already shown proof of a strong purchase intent:
- they already viewed a dozen products before adding one to the cart,
- they spent a considerable amount of time browsing on a specific product or category page,
- they search for something for a long time,
- they stopped the process of purchasing something of large value,
- they added more than one product to the cart.
In such cases, sending a notification is justifiable because you may well assume that the purchase process was interrupted because of some external factor.
It is very likely in the case of mCommerce, as basically anything can draw the user’s attention away from their smartphone, e.g. they started a purchase on the train, but arrived in the meantime to their destination and just forgot about closing the transaction.
Make your timing perfect
We use our desktop and mobile devices in different ways for consuming content and shopping.
When reaching out to your shopper, in the case of desktop, being fast can be a good idea (mentioned in the section about remarketing), but with mobile devices you may hold your action a little.
If we examine Google’s Micro-Moments concept, we see that users generally take separate, smaller actions on their mobile, many times just driven by their instinct.
They usually don’t go all the way along the shopping process, at times they don’t even remember how they got to a certain point, and they also tend to start something purely in a random manner.
Just the same, they can stop doing something randomly, probably because in the meantime they get interrupted by something that seems more important to pay attention to. These can be very simple things like arriving at somewhere, lunchtime is over, the kids started to play with the car or you need to check in for your flight.
In such cases it is needless to send a push notification right away telling them they suspended their purchase process and the products are still there in the cart.
So it’s a good idea to wait for approx. 24-48 hours before calling gently their attention to the fact that their selected products are still there in the cart.
How to find the most suitable time to do that?
Try to collect as much data as possible on your shoppers: their daily routine, what they do for a living, what hobbies they have etc. Using A/B testing, define the best times for sending out push notifications.
Leanplum suggests that only by fine tuning the timing of push notifications, revenue can rise by 15% per user.
You can find further information on this topic in our article about segmentation.
…construction will fail.” says a Chinese proverb.
Luckily it is not so with ecommerce : )
One single abandoned cart doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. On the contrary, it may give you a good opportunity.
Every single e-merchant has issues with shopping cart abandonment. You can beat your competitors by fighting and beating cart abandonment.
Experts say that by 2020 only 1 out of 10 online purchase attempts will be closed with an actual purchase. Of course, along with that, overall ecommerce turnover, the number of purchases and average cart value will increase as well.
If you reach out to your cart abandoners in the right time and the right way, you can grow your income and if you pay special attention to mCommerce as well, your chances for success are even higher.
It’s not only the trends that you have to keep an eye on – you should learn the ins and outs of online marketing to face this challenge, but it will well worth the effort.
Save this article or print it out, follow the steps we’ve described, browse this blog further and make yourself an outstanding e-merchant.