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The Vanishing Act or Why Online Shoppers Are Abandoning Their Carts


In the eCommerce industry, traffic doesn’t always translate into revenue. Your eCommerce website may attract thousands of unique shoppers each month, but unless they complete the checkout process, they won’t bring revenue to your store.

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Unfortunately, many online shoppers add products to their cart but fail to complete the checkout process. Known as shopping cart abandonment, it’s a serious problem that can harm your eCommerce website’s revenue. By understanding the causes of abandoned online shopping carts, however, you can take measures to minimize them.

Untrustworthy Design

If shoppers don’t trust your eCommerce website, they probably won’t purchase its products. A shopper may add a product to his or her cart, but when it’s time to check out, the shopper may leave.

Maybe the shopper is worried that you won’t deliver his or her order, or perhaps the shopper is skeptical of your eCommerce website’s ability to protect his or her personal information. Regardless, you must use a trustworthy design for your eCommerce website to earn shoppers’ trust and therefore protect against abandoned shopping carts.

Requiring Shoppers to Create an Account

You shouldn’t require shoppers to create an account on your eCommerce website. Instead, allow them to check out as a guest. If you require shoppers to create an account, you can expect a higher rate of abandoned shopping carts.

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Account creation on eCommerce websites is a relatively simple process. The shopper must enter his or her name and contact information, followed by clicking a verification link in an email. While the process is straightforward, though, not all shoppers will perform these steps. Many want to purchase products as quickly as possible, which means skipping the account creation process and checking out as a guest, instead.

Hidden Fees During Checkout

Another common cause of abandoned shopping carts is hidden fees during checkout. According to a survey of over 4,500 online shoppers conducted by Baymard Institute, in fact, hidden fees during checkout are the leading cause of abandoned shopping carts. The user experience research company found that roughly half of the respondents cited hidden fees as the reason they abandon their carts.

Whether it’s taxes, payment processing fees, or shipping costs, you shouldn’t attempt to conceal fees on the checkout page. If you’re going to charge shoppers extra fees, add them to your eCommerce website’s product pages. When placed on product pages, shoppers will know exactly how much your store’s products cost.

Long Shipping Times

Shipping times can affect whether shoppers complete the checkout process or abandon their carts. The longer it takes shoppers to receive their orders, the greater the risk of them abandoning their carts.

According to a study conducted by Digital Commerce 360, formerly known as Internet Retailer, the world’s top eCommerce websites ship their orders in an average of four days. With that said, not all shoppers will wait four days to receive their orders. If your eCommerce website only offers four-day shipping, shoppers may abandon their cart in favor of a competitor’s store. To keep abandoned online shopping carts in check, consider offering a variety of shipping options, such as two-, three- and seven-day shipping.

Restrictive Payment Options

If your eCommerce website offers restrictive payment options, shoppers may abandon their carts. In its survey, Baymard Institute found that about one in 16 abandoned shopping carts are the result of restrictive payment options. When a shopper proceeds to the checkout page, only to discover that his or her preferred payment method isn’t accepted, the shopper may leave.

Don’t make the mistake of restricting your eCommerce website’s payment options to credit and debit cards. While credit and debit cards rank as the two most popular payment methods among U.S. shoppers, they certainly aren’t the only payment methods. In addition to credit cards and debit cards, you can minimize abandoned shopping carts on your eCommerce website by accepting PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, wire transfers, and ACH transfers. With a wider range of payment options, fewer shoppers will abandon their carts.

Difficult Checkout Process

A long, complex, or otherwise difficult checkout process can lead to more abandoned shopping carts. A study conducted by Savvy Panda found that one in 10 abandoned shopping carts are caused by a difficult checkout process. Without a simple checkout process, some shoppers will leave your eCommerce website before submitting their payment information.

To minimize abandoned shopping carts on your eCommerce website, try to include no more than three steps in the checkout process. You can also simplify your store’s checkout process by only asking shoppers for essential information, such as their name, billing address, and payment information. Making these changes to your eCommerce website’s checkout process is a surefire way to curb abandoned carts.

Technical Errors

Finally, technical errors can cause shoppers to abandon their carts. Your eCommerce website may look fine, aesthetically, but it could suffer from one or more technical errors that prevent shoppers from checking out. Failure to include the right URL for a product page’s call to action (CTA), for instance, may prevent shoppers from checking out. Alternatively, designing your eCommerce website with fixed units of measurement, such as pixels, can create issues for mobile shoppers.

You can identify technical errors by testing your eCommerce website. Place yourself in the shoes of a typical shopper by adding products to your cart and completing the checkout process. If you’re unable to complete the checkout process, you can further investigate to determine what went wrong. Known as a usability test, it can help you identify technical errors from which your eCommerce website suffers. Of course, you don’t have to actually fulfill this order. Rather, you can cancel it after the test is done.

Also, make sure to use a broken link checker to identify 404 errors and test load times with a speed checker tool.

Abandoned Online Shopping Carts Final Words

Abandoned shopping carts are more than just a nuisance; they can significantly harm your eCommerce website’s revenue. Maybe your eCommerce site has an untrustworthy design, or perhaps it has hidden fees during checkout. Regardless, you should optimize it to encourage shoppers to complete the checkout process and minimize instances of abandoned carts.

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