Understanding the Causes of Shopping Cart Abandonment

If Home Depot or Macy’s had to physically pick up as many abandoned shopping carts as online merchants face everyday, they would have to hire employees to do nothing but stack shopping carts.

Fortunately for online merchants, there is no issue of clutter in the eCommerce world. Shopping cart abandonment is a serious problem though. Andersen Consulting and Forrester Research both show shopping cart abandonment rates at 25 percent. eMarketer’s research shows the rate as 32 percent. NetEffect and Greenfeld Online report shopping cart abandonment as high as 67 percent. Shop.org research goes as high as 75 percent.

While there seem to be as many different abandoned shopping cart statistics as there are marketing research firms, these statistics are not very favorable to online merchants. Understanding the causes can help any online merchant convert more visitors to buyers.

According to Forrester Research, the top reasons sited for cart abandonment are as follows:

* 57% – Didn’t want to pay shipping costs
* 48% – Total cost of purchase was more than expected
* 41% – Used the shopping cart for research
* 19% – Didn’t want to wait for the product
* 18% – Purchased offline instead
* 15% – Checkout process was too complicated
* 12% – Other reasons

How can you as a merchant prevent these reasons from getting in the way of a sale? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Offer and advertise free or discounted shipping: Although this is perhaps easier said than done, it really is a great closing tool. If you cannot afford to offer free shipping, be sure that your shipping costs are not inflated beyond what a customer would expect to pay to ship it on their own.
  • Take a look at the best shipping option for your business model. Options include flat rate shipping, free shipping, shipping by weight, shipping by price, live shipping rates, and live shipping rates using dimensional shipping.
  • Simplify the checkout process. A checkout should take no more than three steps. If you are using Volusion’s One Page Checkout, this should be no issue, but many sites on the web still do not abide by this principle.
  • Do not ask for customers to register before purchasing from you. Would you do this in a brick and mortar store? It is much easier for a customer to leave your online store than your physical store, so it’s not worth the risk.

In addition to our One Page Checkout, Volusion’s eCommerce platform now offers abandoned/live shopping cart statistics to manage and lower cart abandonment rates. If you are a Volusion customer, you can read about setting this up in our knowledge base article on abandoned/live shopping cart reports.

How do you try to handle the dilemma of lowering shipping costs? Share your ideas by posting a comment below.

Happy Selling!

6 Responses to “Understanding the Causes of Shopping Cart Abandonment”

  1. Shopping Cart Abandonment Solutions «

    […] stores never require their customers to register before entering the checkout line, so you shouldn’t either (especially since it’s much easier for a customer to leave an online store than a physical […]

  2. Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment Rates through Free Shipping

    […] old school article on Understanding the Causes of Shopping Cart Abandonment says that: … according to Forrester Research, the top reasons sited for cart abandonment are […]

  3. joseph

    I do not like to register when I go to a site and want to purchase something and if they requier it I dont purchase the item there are to many other places to go and get what I am looking for.
    I believe most people are interested in the product if they go to the checkout , I feel they are eventually going to be a customer but are still undecided.

  4. The Perfect Checkout « Stubblog

    […] to research, 15% of abandoned carts are because the checkout process was too complicated, so lets look at how […]

  5. sherri

    This is a very interesting read…especially the part about not requiring customers to register before purchasing. The last marketing consultant I talked to actually recommended requiring customers to register to retain their information for future purposed. I disagreed on doing it for the very reasons you have stated. Thank you for verifying what I thought about that!



Leave a Reply