5 reasons customers abandon carts, and how to stop it

August 6, 2021
Laura Leiva
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How many times in the last month have you been shopping online, only to exit out of the website before completing the transaction?

On your side of the experience, there could be many reasons why you don’t click ‘place order.’ Maybe you found a better deal elsewhere or you impulsively add items to your shopping cart and then your subconscious reminds you to cool it.

Regardless of the reasons why any shopper clicks away, it still registers as an abandoned cart for the brand.

So, what’s the big deal?

For an eComm or DTC brand, learning why a customer abandons a cart offers some pretty interesting insight into the behaviors and experience of a shopper. Paying attention to the data could reveal a few things going on:

  • The website is too complicated
  • There’s a broken funnel somewhere
  • Customer’s don’t trust handing over financial details
  • Shipping options weren’t ideal

There’s nothing worse than getting customers to that final checkout page only to have them leave and shop elsewhere.

When it comes to the topic of abandoned carts, it’s one problem that is often hard for brands to solve and takes some testing and tweaking to get things flowing better.

Takeaway: Customers want a seamless, easy experience from start to finish.

Paying special attention to the checkout portion of your website and optimizing it where possible will lead to more sales and revenue. It pays to make changes, if they’re needed.

Let’s dive into the data

Has your brand seen way too many customers abandon their cart? It’s not just you.

Across all industries, there’s been an increase in shoppers hopping out of the checkout process, but it especially happens to eComm or DTC brands that require a little more work from the customer – industries like finance, for example.

Retail, travel, and fashion brands see a fair share of abandoned carts, too.

Another thing to consider? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to abandoned carts. From the industry you’re in all the way to the device you focus on, countless factors come into play. Let’s take a look at what some of the data tells us:

  • A good chunk of cart abandonment comes from mobile shoppers. Current numbers show mobile users abandoning their cart at a whopping rate of 85 percent. Why? It usually has to do with screen size, speed, and accessibility. If a website isn’t optimized for mobile there’s going to be an extra hurdle or two for the customer.
  • The average cart abandonment rate is nearly 70 percent. In other words, seven out of 10 customers will drop off before placing their order! For any brand that’s a significant loss of potential sales and revenue.
  • Fixing checkout issues can boost conversions by an impressive 35 percent. Are your numbers not where you want them? The good news is you can usually fix what’s causing the problems and breakdown.

Here’s why customers (usually) bail at the last minute

What would make a customer abandon the cart in the first place?

There seem to be some common themes as to why they don’t finish the checkout process. Here are five reasons why customers bounce (and what you can do to stop it from happening):

#1: Additional costs seen on the checkout page are a dealbreaker (think high shipping rates, extra fees, and hidden costs)

Have you ever been shopping online only to find exorbitant shipping costs or extra charges on the checkout page? Chances are it affected whether or not you moved forward with the purchase.

The same goes for your customer.

In a time where so many brands offer free shipping, it’s almost like the gold standard for a positive customer experience. Even if you bake the charge into your product rates, offering free shipping is one way to reduce cart abandonment.

How big of a deal is paying for shipping?

It’s a significant dealbreaker – nearly 55 percent of shoppers who leave the checkout process say they do so because the shipping costs are just too high.

On the flip side, 79 percent of shoppers say that offering free shipping makes them more likely to purchase online.

For eComm and online brands, this is significant.

#2: A customer account is required to move forward in the purchasing process

Ease and speed.

Those are two things customers want more when shopping online. So what happens when they fill their cart and then come to the checkout process that requires a new account to be made to move forward?

They bounce.

Requiring customers to create an account to complete checkout is the second highest reason why brands experience cart abandonment. This is even more cumbersome for new customers who aren’t even sure if they’ll be back to make additional purchases.

Unless you’re offering subscription signup or other special savings to create an account, no one wants to deal with slowing down the shopping process to create an account they’ll never use again.

How do you fix this? Create a guest account option. This alternative allows customers to complete the checkout, track their order, and there’s still a prompt to create an account later on down the line.

#3: The checkout experience is a pain

How many payment options or methods do you offer customers? If you’re limited in your offerings and see a high number of cart abandonment, consider that a red flag.

Nearly 10 percent of customers will leave a checkout page if a payment method they want isn’t available. 

Most online shoppers don’t want to get up and get a debit or credit card to make a purchase. They want to use payment options that are integrated with other shopping platforms where information and credit data are stored for seamless use.

Take note: Whether it’s a payment issue or a time-consuming form, customers have very little patience and time for cumbersome checkout pages. Audit your checkout experience often to see where changes can be made to create a seamless and simple experience.

#4: Some customers are just shopping around

With everything online, a good number of customers shop around before making a purchase. From comparing offers to contrasting shipping speeds and discounts, a lot of factors are at play for undecided consumers.

How do you entice these customers to follow through with a purchase?

Give them something that creates FOMO or a sense of urgency in taking action. Maybe that means a limited discount code in exchange for an email address, free shipping, or some other discount that keeps shoppers on your page and going through the checkout process.

Here’s the silver lining. While abandoned carts aren’t the best, it’s a great opportunity to take a look at the options and funnels within a website to see where things are getting clogged up. Maybe prices are too high compared to competitors. Maybe customers are finding a better experience on other websites. Maybe it’s time to integrate shipping or payment options!

Actions taken by customers are essential feedback on what’s working and what’s not.

#5 There’s a glitch somewhere

Complicated websites, lengthy forms, discount codes that aren’t working – several things could go wrong to make a customer abandon their cart.

Up to 50 percent of customers will leave a website if the discount code they’ve been given doesn’t work. Another interesting tidbit (which makes perfect sense) is customers will also bounce if the shopping experience or editing a cart is glitchy (such as adding and removing items to the cart or going back to product pages).

Make it easy for customers to get what they want in a short amount of time to decrease the risk of abandoned purchases.

Easy money (with the right moves)

Depending on the industry or offerings, cart abandon rates vary.

The more complex an offering, the more complex forms or checkouts need to be – but there are still a few ways to get the shopping experience under control.

For every reason a cart is abandoned, there’s a way to help fix it and turn bounced opportunities into actual sales. Let’s take a look at some solutions:

Turning browsers into customers

Comparison shopping is one of the benefits of online shopping. But as a brand, you don’t want customers leaving without making a purchase! How can you increase the likelihood of a complete transaction? Consider these options:

  • Offer numerous payment options. Platforms like Afterpay are making it even easier for customers to get what they want while paying interest-free installments over time. For big-ticket items, this is especially appealing. Of course, you’ll also want to accept a range of credit cards, debit cards, and online payments.
  • Set up email marketing to reach abandoned carts. Within the first few hours of an abandoned cart, send out an email to the potential customer and entice them to complete the process by offering a discount code, free shipping, or a good old-fashioned sense of urgency.
  • Provide customer support. Connect with customers to answer any questions – whether it’s a live chat on the website, SMS, or email, make it easy for potential customers to get the answers they want to make a decision. During this process, additional incentives can be offered to seal the deal.

Fees are (a tad) high

You know the phrase, give an inch and take a mile. That goes for customer behaviour, especially.

Offering free shipping is great and a lot of brands already do it – so how do you get over the hurdle of making a profit while also encouraging customers to purchase? Aside from baking the shipping costs into the price of the products, offer them things like:

  • Make free shipping a goal. Add free shipping when a certain threshold is met – consumers typically fill up a cart to get that complimentary shipping, which also means additional sales for you.  
  • Share the value of the brand. There are customers out there willing to pay more for a brand they trust and value. Make sure you’re highlighting these values throughout the website and any marketing content. What makes you better than the competitor offering discounts or shipping? Highlight that in your copy.

Bump up the trust factor

By now most online shoppers feel (mostly) at ease with inputting detailed information into forms or handing over payment information. But what about those customers who don’t? No matter what, you want to make sure you have the trust of your customers. Here’s how to do that:

  • Highlighting security features. For customers who notice and even those who don’t, make sure that your security certificates and features are front and center on your website and checkout pages.
  • Offer various payment options. When customers don’t feel good about putting credit or debit card data into a checkout page, offer them the option of a service like PayPal so they can order items without putting in sensitive information.
  • Be ACTIVE on social media. Bet you didn’t think this would be a big one, did you? In addition to the multitude of reasons why having a social media presence as a brand is important, it also builds trust and recognition for your customers. The more active you are the more legit shoppers feel you are and will be more likely to trust your process when they browse the website.

Pay attention to the data

At the end of the day, here are some things you need to do to make the shopping experience convenient and simple for both new and repeat customers:

  • Be available and respond on time
  • Help customers make purchasing decisions
  • Keep the checkout process simple and seamless
  • Make sure product and shipping details are clear and concise
  • Transparency is K.E.Y.

For eComm brands, online shopping provides a wealth of data and information to look at. Abandoned carts are a pain, but they do help pinpoint some issues you might be having with your process.

One of the best ways to provide value to your customers? Stay connected with them. Listen to feedback and use real-time data to make changes where needed.

Here’s how you remain competitive: be transparent and open with your customers. Aside from added value, it creates a sense of community and trust: two major features you want for your brand. 

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