5 Essential Steps to Decrease eCommerce Cart Abandonment

Published: | By Nina Petrov

eCommerce businesses are responsible for billions of dollars in ad revenue every year, trying to drive traffic to their websites. And yet, the conversion rate for eCommerce businesses remains relatively low, often between 1.75% and 2.4%, making the customer journey funnel a leaky one. 

One of the contributors to this statistic is shopping cart abandonment. The vast majority of visitors leave without having made a purchase, although not all of them put anything in their cart. It might be useful to calculate your cart abandonment rate to get a good idea about what you are dealing with.

abandoned shopping cartSource: pixnio.com

To do that, simply divide the number of realized purchases by the number of initialized ones, subtract from 1 and multiply by 100. That will give you the shopping cart abandonment rate, in percentages.

Why do people abandon eCommerce carts?

There isn’t one reason for this phenomenon and there isn’t one solution. First, let’s talk about some of the reasons visitors might abandon their shopping carts.

  • Surprising shipping costs. If they didn’t anticipate shipping charges or if they are higher than expected, customers may change their minds.
  • Unsatisfying payment options. There are many payment options nowadays - PayPal, credit card, Apple Pay, or even buy now pay later options. A customer might have a preferred option for various reasons and if they see only 1 or 2 options none of which suit them - they might leave. Or, if your payment system is complicated, they might prefer something simple such as a “buy now” PayPal button
  • Offers. Shoppers are spoiled by many offers and promotions. Some customers are hooked on the small and simple thrill of deal-seeking and might be easily persuaded to go to a competitor by a symbolic offer. Keep them on your site by offering multiple offers rather than just one, and showcase them in an engaging multi-slider that can improve sales by more than 60%.
  • Delivery times. Shoppers have varying standards for what a reasonable time for delivery is. Big and efficient businesses have gotten people used to lightning-fast delivery. Small or medium businesses may not be able to compete. Most users won’t expect them to, but being upfront about the time will go a long way. If they wanted lightning-fast delivery they would have gone to one of the giant businesses anyway.
  • Bugs, errors, crashes. Customers will lose trust in a business that can’t run its website. They don’t want their credit card information leaking, nor do they want to be charged twice. They want a smooth experience and they want it on desktop and mobile. Website functionality is a priority for eCommerce.
  • Mandatory sign-up. Requiring that customers create an account may be a way for you to enter them into your mailing list but may end up being a hindrance to a sale. It adds a step that is probably unrelated to the current purchase and is therefore redundant.

And now, a few ideas about improving the situation.

1. Transparency about costs

Be as transparent about all costs as possible initially. Include taxes in the price so that shoppers don’t suddenly encounter a significantly more expensive item in their cart, which will make them feel tricked.

cargoSource: pxhere.com

If your eCommerce business is international, there are solutions for that too. Try to be as upfront as possible about shipping and costs. There exist plugins that will estimate local taxes and shipping costs fairly accurately. Users will appreciate that a business went the extra mile to make things as convenient as possible for them.

While we’re on the subject of shipping costs - offer free shipping. If the math doesn’t add up for your business in the case of individual items, especially internationally, you could offer free shipping for orders above a certain amount.

This will grab the attention of deal-chaser consumers who will see the benefit of spending a bit more to get a few more items as opposed to letting it all go towards shipping. On your side of the transaction, think of it as a discount. Calculate the threshold so that it makes sense for your business.

One final note about transparency cost transparency: If your product comes with lots of options, variables, or complexities, remove some of your potential customers’ doubts or misconceptions by providing extra detail in a customizable FAQ format that’s easy for them to find and use. 

2. Offer payment options

We’ve mentioned how this can turn away customers who have a preference or simply don’t have access to certain payment options at the moment.

Make payment as flexible as possible. PayPal, digital wallets, virtual credit cards, etc. Some businesses have even started accepting cryptocurrencies, although it is understandable if businesses are still squeamish in regards to this fairly volatile environment.

bar code scanSource: wikimedia.org

“Buy now, pay later” is a great option for responsible shoppers with limited but steady budgets, especially if a business detects cart abandonment after moving on to the billing system. Allow customers to split up their payment in a number of months depending on the price. That way, customers who really want or need something are less likely to be put off by a high price tag.

If need be, introduce a third-party payment processor to handle various types of payments. Custom buy now pay later (BNPL) app development is an option, too.

3. Show thumbnails in the shopping cart

People like their stuff. Gadgets, toys, items they want or need. Images of products are a great way to improve email engagement, but that’s not all images are good for. You’ve already played off of their desire previously, don’t let it slip at the end. Showing the items that are being bought justifies the price tags next to them.

Most sites nowadays already include item thumbnails in the checkout process. This also serves to provide clarity to the customer if they were perusing the items for a while, considering multiple color options, etc. It will put their mind at ease, knowing that they got exactly the one they wanted, and prevent dissatisfaction or even returns due to this.

Although you may not be able to show your specific merchandise to customers in 3D, like some eCommerce enterprises do with Haptic Media’s virtual try-on app, you can work with what you’ve established previously.

4. Customer service in checkout

Much praise is given here regarding adding options and flexibility. However, there is such a thing as too much. At some point, the process becomes tedious, confusing, and multiple options induce hesitancy.

There is no clear line for this, nor is the line at the same point for every customer. After adding a moderate amount of options, it may be helpful to provide dedicated customer service to answer any questions about shipping times and costs as well as payment options. 

woman with an ear pieceSource: pxhere.com

Even if just to answer simple questions, the presence of this feature reassures the customer that your business is there to serve them and reinforces trust. There are several types of customer service, and this one should be separate and dedicated.

Arm your customer service representatives with good information about the checkout part of the transaction and train them well. A customer shouldn’t wait long when they’ve already made their selection. The support should come quickly, be helpful, and sound friendly, yet not too casual. In addition, your customer support operation should be capable of handling different types of customers, such as those who speak a different language or those who need special equipment to overcome disabilities. The key is to make sure your customer support is accessible to all. After all, any thriving business wants income from all types of customers, so customer service should be designed to support that strategy.

5. Exit-intent pop-ups 

These are notifications that are triggered when a customer goes to exit their shopping cart tab, or even switch tabs. These can be used at various points and work best when they are driven by a pop-up marketing strategy. (You don’t want them to annoy customers or interrupt them too often.) In an eCommerce business, they are best used to deliver an offer.

hangers with % tagsSource: pixabay.com

Some shoppers just want to compare prices and offers. They will add items in multiple shopping carts from multiple businesses. When a limited-time offer of an additional 3 or 5% discount jumps at them, it will make your website stand out among the other cold and unresponsive ones. That’s how tools such as our pop-up app can recover 21% of abandoned carts. All things being equal, the very presence of an offer will tip the scale in your favor. People love a good deal.

Bonus Tip: If all this makes sense but feels like too much to take on, consider getting some part-time help from a virtual eCommerce assistant. These are freelancers, working independently or through agencies, who can help you with tasks such as making sure your website and shopping cart contain correct information, organizing and managing product images for your site or landing pages, troubleshooting issues or providing customer service, processing orders, maintaining inventory, listing new products on your site or places like Amazon, and much more. This kind of help is invaluable in giving you room to breathe, plan, and devote your time to important challenges such as cart abandonment.


Customers love options and deals. That’s half the thrill of buying. At the same time, they want to feel safe and reassured, they want the shopping to be convenient. What was once the job of a good shopping assistant or a store manager can now be implemented in eCommerce businesses and, for the most part, automated. It needn’t be complicated or expensive and the customers will surely appreciate it.

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