How to Reduce Abandoned Shopping Carts


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Today we will talk about some general strategy for a problem that plagues every e-commerce merchant: how to reduce abandoned shopping carts.



Two types of onsite strategies to reduce abandoned shopping carts


First, there are the technical strategies for speed and navigation through the ordering and payment processes. Optimizing the e-commerce checkout experience primarily involves minimizing friction at every step. We have discussed this before in our post about the platforming of the online buying experience. As the merchant, you want to make it as quick and simple as possible for shoppers to complete a purchase.


Then, there are the “PsyOps” strategies. In addition to optimizing frictions, there are other subtle, psychological boosts you can include in the progression from the first product page to the ‘ Thank you for your order’ page. These little boosters will prompt shoppers to stick with the process to the end by giving them comfort and certainty about their purchase.


Let’s start with the technical optimization techniques.



Optimize your checkout experience for speed and ease of navigation.



Optimize Your Page Load Times

According to Visual Website Optimizer, conversion rates can drop by 7% for each extra second that it takes to load a product page. Run speed tests and optimize loading times to make sure you’re accommodating the less-patient but still-motivated buyer.


Offer multiple payment options (Apple Pay, PayPal, Visa Checkout, Google Pay, Shopify Payments)

Lots of consumers have strong preferences for which payment processor they use, and where all their account information is stored for faster billing. If they’re loyal to Apple Pay or PayPal, give them as many options as possible.


Offer a Guest Checkout option.

According to statistics cited by Ruby Garage, 34% of e-commerce shoppers report abandoning their carts because they didn’t want to go through the friction of creating an account. You may not be able to gather as much information about your buyers, but you’ll make more sales in the short run.


Include a Progress Indicator for checkouts.

Consumers don’t like being trapped in a long, complex, or opaque checkout process. Show them the steps to purchase (and make it as few steps as possible) so they know what’s next and can estimate how long it will take.


Make it easy to navigate back and forth between store and cart.

If they have to go through several steps to return for more shopping or check on feature options, get them there with one click. Keep it simple, and keep it fast…that’s your mantra for everything mentioned here.


Make it easy to save their cart.

When you shop at a brick-and-mortar store, you either commit to buy something or you don’t. You can stand in line and wait to pay for whatever’s in your cart, or you can leave the store with nothing. Shopping online isn’t as straightforward as shopping in a store, where you either buy or re-shelf your items if you don’t.  One way to improve conversion rates is to make it effortless for users to save the items in their cart for later. Some marketers urge making a saved cart the default setting, whenever they create one. You would need a good inventory control system, however, to make sure you have adequate supplies when products are in high demand.




Psychological boosts to encourage shoppers to pull the trigger rather than drifting away.


Establish and build trust.

Let them know how you’re providing security for their payment information and other personal Buyer ID information by displaying logos or badges for the systems used in processing their transaction.


Include thumbnail images of what’s in their order, on every page.

Some people need reminding of exactly what’s in their cart, especially when there are multiple items.  A thumbnail image should be shown alongside the item’s name. This visual reference shows what they’ve selected, and it is a way to also double-check if they’ve ordered it in the right size, length, color, etc.  You’re saving them a crucial extra step in not having to navigate back and forth between the product or main store pages and the checkout page. And as we know, fast and easy is how you want to define your user experience.


Display clear calls to action on your checkout pages.

Whether it’s “Get free shipping with orders over $50” (always a nice upsell) or a timer on their shopping cart showing how long their items will be available, let shoppers know what’s at stake and riding on completion of their order.


Make it easy to find answers to their questions.

Give them a way to find answers on the spot if they’re not sure about something. The optimal answer to this is Live Chat, but you can also provide a phone number or a section for FAQs.




The biggest factor in cart abandonment: the nasty surprise of shipping costs.

Numerous studies of reasons for cart abandonment cite unexpected shipping costs as the number one reason shopping carts are abandoned by shoppers who were otherwise ready to purchase (as opposed to those just browsing or still thinking about it). This is why you must be clear and upfront  Make sure those are displayed before the payment info window appears. If you can upsell their order to an amount that will qualify for free shipping, even better. This is a proven strategy for boosting overall sales.



A final word about how to address and reduce abandoned shopping carts

All of the strategies outlined above are for reducing abandoned shopping carts of buyers who were ready, able, and otherwise willing to complete their purchase during the session. For those shoppers who are just browsing, many will use their shopping cart as a means of selecting a range of alternatives for a single product they’re looking for, while skipping back and forth between different store sites. Or they’re idly browsing, and intend to save the cart to look at later making a purchase. For these shoppers, an ad retargeting app will serve you best.

Request a demo and a free 14-day trial of our powerful automation tools.

Julie Stewart

My mission at Shoppingfeed is explaining how to leverage e-commerce platforms and SaaS technology to e-merchants who just want to run their business and make more money.

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