14 Tips for Getting Ahead of Cart Abandonment

A cartoon character stands next to an empty cart

Add to cart. Add to cart. Add to cart. Then we’re distracted and gone. For store owners this is cart abandonment. And as ecommerce owners we always have to be thinking about completed transactions. 

We’re all guilty of abandoning our online shopping carts. As a business owner, your goal is getting ahead of cart abandonment and eliminating it as much as possible. Here’s how.

What is Cart Abandonment? 

Cart abandonment is when a customer visits your website, adds things to their online shopping cart, but never makes the purchase. Cart abandonment is quite common. Nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned. The items then just sit in the cart until your website automatically clears them.

While shopping cart abandonment may be frustrating, it’s also part of the buyer’s journey. Shoppers abandon their carts for many reasons, including:

  • Pricing/Costs. It’s easier for customers to shop around online. They look for the best price on certain products, but they also are aware of options that change pricing. For example, a customer will leave your site if they find the same item on another site for the same price, but that retailer offers a coupon. The customer also may leave your site if they can get free shipping elsewhere.
  • Browsing. You go into a store to look around. You may even pick up items, think about purchasing them, then change your mind. The same thing happens online. Customers put things in the cart, then decide they just aren’t ready to buy right then.
  • Technical problems. Customers sometimes leave their carts because of technical issues, some of which may be out of your control. For example, maybe your website stalled while they were trying to check out. Or maybe their internet went out and they didn’t want to reboot.
  • Poor experience. Customers also are likely to leave if your checkout experience takes too long or asks for too much information.

While it may be natural for some customers to leave their carts, you want to get ahead of shopping cart abandonment to avoid as many lost sales as possible.

Cartoon woman jumping into real life out of a cell phone

14 Tips for Getting Ahead of Cart Abandonment 

Now that you have a better understanding of why it happens, let’s talk about getting ahead of shopping cart abandonment. Here are 14 tips to reduce cart abandonment.

  1. Offer Free Shipping. Pricing and purchase costs are related to shopping cart abandonment. Offer free shipping to avoid losing sales. It will pay off, overall.
  2. Provide Discounts. You want to make money off of sales, it’s probably worth providing a small discount, especially to a first-time shopper, when they sign up for your email newsletter. A 10%-15% off coupon could encourage them to make that first purchase and provide you with their email information for future contact and promotions.
  3. Eliminate Surprises. Shoppers don’t like going to check out and discovering charges (shipping, tax, handling fees, etc.) that they weren’t expecting. Extra costs are the most common reason customers abandon their carts. Be sure all costs to be added at checkout are made clear upfront. 
  4. Allow Guest Checkout. Give customers the option of checking out as a guest or creating an account. Sometimes just the act of filling in a bit of information to create an account sends shoppers away. It’s great to have their information for future contact, but not at the sake of a sale.
  5. Streamline Checkout. Make the checkout process as fast as possible for customers. The less information they have to enter, the more likely they are to complete the process. Think five steps at most. Three steps are better. Consider showing them a progress bar or steps to completing checkout so they know when they’re almost done.
  6. Offer Solutions. Customers often have questions at checkout or before they purchase products. Be sure they have access to a FAQ page, 800 number, and chat support, even during checkout.
  7. Include CTAs. You probably use Calls to Action all over your site, but don’t forget about them in the shopping cart. Be sure to include CTAs throughout checkout to encourage and guide the customer through the process.
  8. Allow Cart Edits and Saving. Most customers compare prices online before making a purchase. Allow them to edit their cart, removing and adding items at any time, and save their cart in case they want to look around and return for the purchase.
  9. Explain Returns. Customers know that buying something they haven’t seen in person can be risky. Be sure to display your return policy to minimize the risk of buying a product they’ve only seen online.
  10. Accept Payment Variety. Customers want to pay for online goods in a variety of ways, especially if they aren’t familiar with your website. Allow numerous card options, as well as Paypal. Be sure to show security logos to help make your customers feel more confident in sharing their information.
  11. Email Them. You have a few hours to respond when a customer abandons their cart. If you have their contact information, be sure you email them immediately after they leave and encourage them to re-engage.
  12. Display Social Proof. Customers are more likely to buy if they know other people have done the same. Use social proof to show others purchasing your products. These tactics make customers feel safe and motivate them to buy, not just browse. You also can use counters to show how many of an item are left, giving customers and sense of urgency and creating a fear of missing out.
  13. Use a Popup. Exit-intent popups appear when a customer is about to leave your site and make a promotional offer to keep them from abandoning their cart.
  14. Check In. Don’t just create your checkout process and leave it. Go through it yourself now and then to see where it can be improved. Use various devices too to check speeds and compatibility.

Getting Ahead of Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment frustrates business owners, but it’s a natural part of the buyer’s journey. It’s just a fact that some shoppers will leave your site without buying anything. Your goal can’t be to stop shopping cart abandonment, but it can be to minimize it. Use the tips in this post for getting ahead of shopping cart abandonment. 

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