22 ways to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate

Abandoned shopping carts are one of the biggest problems for online retailers. It is estimated that as high as 70% of shopping carts are abandoned and trillions of dollars worth of merchandise is lost in these exits every year. As an online sellers, all your marketing and sales efforts are moot if you cannot stop these leakages.

Here are 22 ways to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate

1) Don’t let shipping costs be a surprise or a shock to consumers: More than half of the customers who drop off and abandon the shopping cart do so because they find out that the shipping costs are more than what they assumed (and most actually assume the shipping to be free these days). Of course, in some cases you cannot accurately provide the shipping costs before the customers are some way down the checkout process, however it always helps to either be clear and upfront about the costs or try to incorporate shipping costs within the product price and give free shipping to all. At the most basic, make sure that there are clearly marked links (which do not leave the page) that allow customers to check the shipping costs at any time in the checkout process.

2) Incentivise at the likely abandonment point: Everyone likes to shop but no one likes to pay money :-). Slight hesitation at the time of taking out your card and keying in the details is normal. What you as a business owner should do is recognise that there will always be hesitation at this point (impending buyers’ regret) and provide targeted incentives that prevent the exit of the customers. These incentives can come in the form of coupons, discounts, loyalty points or perhaps free shipping. Remember any small thing can tilt the scale in your favour if you are doing the right thing.

reduce shopping cart abandon rates3) Make the customer feel secure and safe: With the advent of online shopping, consumers have also become very smart about the pros and cons of buying online. One thing that is much in the news (as it should be) is that transmitting your details over the Internet is not safe. Hence one thing which you must do during your checkout process is to show proof of security that the customers’ details (which includes their credit card numbers, email addresses, names or addresses) is secure/encrypted and which will not be misused in any case. It often helps to display icons which are associated with security and encryption like a padlock, or something else which certifies that your site is good enough for online shopping.

4) Remove other doubts about from security: In continuation with point 3, the doubt in customers’ minds are not solely constrained to the point of payments. Other doubts include things like delivery time, return policies, quality assurance etc. It would help you to also provide some info/ links that answer such doubts and ensure the customer that all of these things are in place.

5) Pay extremely high attention to the user experience during the checkout process. Do the testing by allowing different demographics to go through your checkout process. Many times we over or underestimate the tech savviness of consumers. And with the speed with which technology is changing, it is quite possible to build a sophisticated checkout experience which looks pretty but is confusing to the normal users. At least in the checkout process, it helps being minimal and clean. Also make sure that you are checking the shopping experience from various devices – today your users would be spread between mobile, tablets and desktops and the experience should be efficient whichever medium the use. See which points the failures happen and at which points customers  are confused.  Remove these hurdles even if that means reducing the ‘ beauty’ of the site a bit.

6) Allow a feature of customers to save the cart and return later. Many times customers actually have certain issues which prevent them from immediately buying that are beyond your control. Some urgent task might have come up and they might have had to leave the computer or perhaps they might actually have wanted to compare the item on some other portal-either way it would be to your advantage if they can come back later.  Make sure that you have a feature for the customer to save his or her cart and resume the process later.

7) Ask for only those details which are completely necessary and allow guest checkouts. Many e-commerce companies use the checkout process as a way to increase their email lists, or something similar to be used in the future. While there is definite advantage for gathering such information, many customers really only  want to complete the checkout process as soon as possible. So make sure that you only ask for those details which are absolutely necessary. Also allowing guest checkouts which don’t necessitate the creation of an accounts would also help your checkout process.

8) Allow customers to review their cart and to get the details of the products at any time in the process. Many checkout systems are built in a way that you can only proceed one way and be going back to anything else would require the cancelling of the cart and starting from scratch. This obviously would increase your abandonment rates because many times buyers would want to go back and recheck that they have bought correct item and might want to change it. Make sure that close to 0 use cases require the cancelling of the cart by the customer.

9) Shorten the checkout process as much as possible. Large e-commerce firms like Amazon have shown the world what one click ordering processes are like. Many companies allow you to store the credit card numbers or store money in your wallet so that the process becomes as easy as possible to complete. Of course this will depend on the Regulatory environment in which you operate and your technology platform – however aiming for a process which requires as little effort as possible from the customer would definitely decrease your cart abandonment rates.


Stripe’s checkout is always seamless and pretty

10) Be fast. Fast loading speed is necessary throughout your e-commerce website ( or any other website for that matter) however it is even more essential while checking out. If the customer is is left looking at the spinning wheel for many seconds, it will only instil more doubt into his mind. You already know that Google looks at factors such as loading speed in its ranking  so speed is important always. And while Google may not understand how fast the checkout process is, it is one thing which you must keep in mind while designing a website.

11) Make sure you have a variety of payment methods on your website. This obviously is location dependent but certain areas (like India) it is definitely needed to have a cash on delivery option. In other countries perhaps PayPal is a much used method. Either way, make sure that the user doesn’t come to the end of the checkout process and finds that there is no payment method that can be used.

12) Make sure that you have a variety of delivery methods on your website. Certain users might want to urgently procure an item and at others might be happy to pay a low price and get the item on a delayed shipping. Either way the more methods and the variety of pricing that you make available to the consumers, the less likely abandonments will be.

13) Do not try to trick the user. Many companies employ the technique of allowing back orders. While this is fine in general, make sure that the user knows that the product that is being ordered is actually not available and would take time to procure. If you had projected the entire experience as buying an available item and the user finds out in the end that you are taking 20 days to deliver, it will obviously affect the cart abandonment rate.

14) Show helpful error messages on the checkout page. It is very possible that users make mistakes in entering  a form field. These mistakes could range from the critical ones like entering the wrong card number to a typing mistake like entering a wrong character in the phone number field. Make sure that your error handling and messages are sophisticated enough to point out immediately where the fault lies. Do not give a generic error message for each failure. In fact, it would help you to do live checking such that while the users are typing they can understand whether the entry is valid or not.

15) Provide a ready medium for contacting the supporting. Quite often, even after providing clear instructions users will have a question before pressing the purchase button. In such cases, it would be tremendously beneficial if you offer live chat or phone support. If it is not possible for you to maintain a 24/7 live support, then you can make your FAQ page as comprehensive as possible. Still, try to have an easy way for users to contact you during the checkout process.

16) Absolutely make sure that users have a way to recover abandoned carts. Almost all e-commerce platforms these days have a way to store abandoned carts and email the customer the link to resume their process. Tand make this action of storing the abandoned cart and incentivising the recovery of the same to be as smooth and efficient as possible.

17) Make sure that you are testing and analysing the results of your purchasing process as much as possible. There are many factors which go into success of an e-commerce site and even Amazon is continuously testing and iterating as to what the process should be. Keep on analysing the data which is coming back and try to find patterns. These patterns will then define your test cases which you must try out to improve your checkout process. Ofcourse, do not try to change everything at once, change a few factors see the result and the move forward from there.

18) Incorporate social login methods. Many consumers these days are already logged in to Facebook, Twitter or Google plus-if you try to incorporate same social login process into a website, it will be faster and also more personalised. An added benefit is that the purchase can easily be shared by customers on the social networks and you could also target your discounts and coupons for such an action. Needless to say, social sharing is always something which should be tested on your target demographics. Certain users like to share everything and others want to keep all purchases a secret.

19) Show details on your final checkout page. While it is obviously difficult to capture each and every product detail in the final checkout page, reviewing the purchase is what a large majority of the users we want to do. At the bare minimum, show the critical details for any particular product. For example in the case of clothes this could be the size and colour.For some other product this could be different-the idea is that when the user finally confirms to purchase, he should know exactly what he is buying.

20) Make sure that you are at the forefront (or at least aware) of technology in payment solutions. Things like Apple Pay, or a fingerprint recognition system take out the pain in mobile payouts. If these things are feasible for you this should be incorporated in the payment process since these technologies have been built to make payments simpler, faster and more efficient. Do not go overboard in implementing the latest technology but always be aware of what your next steps will be.

21) Try to have a single page check out as much as possible. This is faster and easier for the consumers and also gives an easy ability to review all the info that has been entered. This feature is quite dependent on your technology platform but certainly one of the things which should be a A/B tested.

22) Remarketing and retargeting. While this one is not strictly related to solving your abandoned cart issues, it is too useful to not to mention in such an article. Understand what remarketing and retargeting are and make sure you use them. Put simply, these marketing techniques track users who have had an interaction with your products and try to target them again in the most efficient manner. Often times, this will result in exponentially better recovery of abandoned carts than other methods.

Reducing cart abandonment rates is a continuous process for all online sellers. While the tips  such as above are useful, more important is that you understand your users and have the ability to test, analyse and iterate your checkout process.


A bit of education, a byte of startups.

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