Consumer Experience

Understanding and Overcoming eCommerce Cart Abandonment

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eCommerce cart abandonment is a pervasive challenge that businesses across the globe grapple with.

According to the Baymard Institute, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is about 70 percent, a figure that can be disconcerting for any business. This means that seven out of ten online shoppers add items to their cart and get all the way to the checkout page, only to leave the website without completing the purchase. This prevalent behavior results in billions of dollars in lost sales each year.

The reasons for cart abandonment are numerous and varied, ranging from unexpected shipping costs and complicated checkout processes to simply browsing or comparison shopping. Understanding these reasons is the first step toward formulating effective strategies to combat cart abandonment and boost conversion rates.

The Impact of Cart Abandonment

eCommerce cart abandonment has several negative impacts that can significantly affect a business’s bottom line. Perhaps the most apparent is the potential for substantial revenue loss. Each abandoned cart represents a transaction that reached the brink of completion but didn’t finalize.

Decreased conversion rates are another negative consequence of cart abandonment. An elevated cart abandonment rate suggests a lower conversion rate, which is a crucial metric for eCommerce success. A lower conversion rate then indicates that a higher number of visitors are exiting the online store without making a purchase, thereby lowering the overall effectiveness of the business’s eCommerce platform.

In addition, consistent cart abandonment might signal underlying issues with the website or shopping process. This could encompass various factors, all of which can discourage potential customers from completing their purchase and lead to long-lasting negative impacts on both customer experience and business revenue.

Understanding the Reasons for Cart Abandonment

Online cart abandonment is a common challenge in the eCommerce industry, and understanding its various causes is paramount if you want to craft effective solutions.

A Poorly Designed Website

Your eCommerce website is, naturally, the first thing shoppers see when they make it to your site, so it better be a good first impression.

There are many reasons why a shopper can leave unsatisfied, including:

  • Unclear Imagery: eCommerce sells with visuals, unlike brick-and-mortar retailers who have the benefit of a tactile experience. Your imagery must be up to par. Use high-resolution product pictures, multiple pictures from all angles of a product, and imagery that works on desktop and mobile. Consider video as well.
  • Valueless Product Descriptions: Next to images are the product descriptions. These must be clear, concise, and valuable to your shoppers. Cover all important features of the products. Don’t use stock descriptions, either, especially if the product is sold by other retailers with that description. Make yours unique and worth reading.
  • Long Load Times: Site performance is another contributor to cart abandonment. According to Tooltester, the average web page load time is 2.5 seconds on desktop and 8.6 seconds on mobile. This can be a big issue when 53 percent of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, so says Google Customer Insights.
  • Unsecure eCommerce Site: A recent study performed by Radial shows that 48 percent of cart abandonment rates are due to site security concerns such as the use and security of personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Forced Account Creation: Requiring shoppers to create an account before finalizing their purchase often adds an extra layer of complexity to the checkout process. Customers generally seek a seamless, hassle-free online shopping experience. When asked to create an account, they may perceive this as a time-consuming task disrupting their immediate intent—to purchase a product quickly and conveniently. Consider including other options like guest checkout or social media login for a more streamlined user experience.
  • Limited Payment Options: Shoppers want to be able to use their preferred payment method when shopping online. Offering a limited range of payment methods can significantly contribute to shopping cart abandonment. In an era where digital financial solutions are rapidly evolving, customers expect multiple payment options to accommodate their preferences and circumstances. These may range from traditional methods, such as debit or credit card, to digital wallets, PayPal, bank transfers, buy now pay later, and even cryptocurrencies.

Limited Shipping Options

Another factor that could cause buyers to walk away is a lack of shipping options. This can be especially relevant for newer online retailers who are trying to compete with the big eCommerce marketplaces. Amazon, for example, has its incredibly popular Prime shipping, but buyers can also choose more traditional—i.e. slower—delivery methods for a lower price.

These options are now expected by online shoppers. They want standard shipping, expedited shipping, overnight shipping, free shipping, and more. Retailers should use multiple carriers for order fulfillment so they can streamline operations.

In addition to shipping times, “limited options” can also just mean high shipping costs. Retailers must be clear and up-front about all associated shipping costs and production times. Buyers will leave their carts if they get to the shipping details section and still don’t know how much their final order will cost.

So, offering a wide range of options includes:

  • Multiple shipping methods
  • Multiple carriers to avoid delays
  • Clear, honest shipping pricing

This should help prevent cart abandonment at point of sale.

Lacking Customer Support

Put yourself in your shoppers’ shoes for a second. What convinces you to buy a product online? For many, it’s product reviews and ratings. These are just one element of the broader customer support features that should be present on your eCommerce site—features that could contribute to cart abandonment.

Starting with reviews and ratings, these elements support shoppers on their paths to purchase. According to a survey taken by Power Reviews, nearly half (45 percent) of consumers won’t purchase a product if there are no reviews available for it.

People want to hear from other consumers about their own experiences with your products. A simple star-rating system is beneficial, but it also helps to have a section for customer reviews on each product page. Good reviews can drive sales and decrease abandonment.

Another part of having strong customer support is making sure your website has an easy to find section to address customer questions. Sometimes this is in the form of an FAQ page. Like product reviews, this feature is where your business can weigh in on each product and clarify any buyer misconceptions or concerns. The right answered question can make or break a sale.

In addition, your site must have:

  • Contact information for your business
  • Clearly identified sellers, if applicable
  • Easy to follow return policy

All these elements make up strong customer support for an eCommerce site.

Understanding and overcoming eCommerce cart abandonment is a crucial aspect of achieving success in the online retail sphere.

Incorrect Prices

Lastly, pricing is a major contributor to cart abandonment. Alongside shipping, prices are some of the most basic information customers expect on an eCommerce site. Unclear, hidden, or inaccurate prices are a fast track to abandoned online shopping carts.

In addition, online buyers are often browsing with a purpose. This means that they are looking for the best price for the item they want and are likely comparing across different retailers. You should ensure your prices are competitive or you risk losing their sale.

In fact, technology has made it easier than ever to price shop. Consumers are browsing in-store and checking prices on their mobile devices, perhaps even completing the transaction online. They’ll know if your price isn’t good enough.

So, what can you do?

  • Don’t Be Afraid of Change: Major retailers change prices all the time, but it can still be nerve-wracking to adjust your strategies. Even so, don’t be afraid of change. Tactics such as dynamic pricing allow you to alter prices if demand goes up. Or increase prices as holidays approach or drop them afterward to offload slow-moving inventory. Psychological pricing ($19.99 instead of $20) is another benefit, so don’t wait to tweak your prices as needed.
  • Automate Your Repricing: Doing all this manually can also be daunting. Thankfully, you have some help. Automate your pricing strategies by using rule-based repricing. A pricing engine can alter prices depending on market conditions, competitors, holidays, and more. Set price guards to protect your margins and reduce the likelihood of losing buyers over prices.
  • Cut Out Hidden Costs: Be honest with your shoppers about your prices. The last thing they want is to come across a surprise fee or unexpected cost right at the end of the checkout process, pushing them to abandon their carts. Your prices should be the easiest thing to find on your site. Display them prominently and proudly. Never deceive a customer, even if it’s unintentional (such as from poor web design).

Overcoming eCommerce Cart Abandonment

On top of addressing these common issues, there are a few other strategies you can use to overcome cart abandonment.

  • Targeted Cart Abandonment Emails: This strategic approach involves sending personalized reminders to customers who have left items in their cart without completing purchase. These emails can be tailored to include the specific items left in the cart, any special discounts on those products, or other enticing incentives to encourage completion of the purchase.
  • Retargeting Campaigns: Another effective method is to run retargeting campaigns. These campaigns serve ads to users who have visited your site and left without making a purchase. These targeted ads, displayed on other websites they visit, social media platforms, or even their email, remind them of the items they viewed or left in the cart, nudging them to return to complete their purchase.
  • “Save For Later”: Integrating a “Save for Later” button into your website checkout process can significantly reduce the rate of eCommerce cart abandonment. This feature essentially offers prospective buyers the flexibility to defer their purchasing decision without losing their chosen items. It benefits shoppers who are on the fence about a particular product or simply awaiting a more opportune time for the purchase.

By leveraging these strategies, businesses can significantly reduce cart abandonment rates, leading to increased sales and customer engagement.

Tackling the eCommerce Cart Abandonment Challenge

You’re never going to close the deal with 100 percent of your website visitors. However, there’s always room for improvement.

The bottom line is that consumers are savvy and sensitive. It doesn’t take much to drive them to another website or store, from long load times to uncompetitive prices or limited shipping and payment options. Do what you can to ensure that these hurdles are few and far between.

By providing comprehensive, data-driven solutions tailored to the unique needs of each retailer, Wiser Solutions empowers businesses to optimize their strategies, tackle eCommerce cart abandonment, and maximize revenue. The ultimate goal is to create a shopping experience where customers feel valued, leading to increased conversion rates and long-term customer loyalty.

Editor’s Note: Contributing writer is Matt Ellsworth. This post was originally published in September 2018 and has since been updated and refreshed for readability and accuracy.

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