Why Shopping Cart Abandonment Is a Good Thing

For online businesses, shopping cart abandonment might seem like a very big problem. In fact, nearly 70% of all shopping carts created online are abandoned. This is a major cause of lost conversions and sales for online businesses. However, this doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. Cart abandonment rate is a very important data metric for businesses to analyze. It can be used by marketers to help understand their potential buyers. For this reason, many businesses and online marketers have started to pay closer attention to why their customers leave and what they leave. With this information, they can start to build a better online shopping experience.

What is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Online shopping cart abandonment is when a potential customer adds something to their online cart and fails to complete the checkout. In other words, they leave the site before they actually make their purchase. This is a problem unique to the online shopping market, which has become a major issue for online retailers. The cart abandonment rate of a website is an important data metric that businesses can use to improve their user experience and increase conversions.

The abandonment rate is calculated by dividing the total number of purchases completed by the number of shopping carts created. For example: 100 completed purchases/200 shopping carts created = 50% cart abandonment rate

Interestingly, marketing researchers have found that abandonment rates differ depending on what device is being used. Mobile devices and tablets have a much higher percentage of shoppers exiting before making a purchase.

  • Desktop: 70%
  • Mobile: 86%
  • Tablet: 81%

Why Does Cart Abandonment Happen?

Online shopping cart abandonment can happen for any number of reasons. Figuring out why potential customers are leaving their carts can be a really valuable piece of information for businesses and marketers. The top reasons that online shoppers abandon their shopping carts are:

1. Extra (Unexpected) Costs

Unexpected costs during checkout are the number one reason that online shoppers fail to complete the checkout process. Shipping costs, taxes, and extra fees aren’t always made obvious to buyers. When they head to their cart to check out and see these extra fees, nearly 50% of shoppers abandon their cart.

2. Account Required to Checkout

Many buyers (especially first-time guests) want a quick and easy online shopping experience. Many form fields, like birthdate and phone number, aren’t essential for making an online purchase. This can frustrate customers who don’t want to enter their personal information. Requiring them to make an account to purchase something can quickly cause them to head for the exit.

3. Complicated Checkout Process

Having a long and complicated checkout process is the reason behind 18% of all shopping cart abandonment. For example, most U.S. e-commerce sites contain over 23 form field elements! That is a lot of information to enter. It is easy to see why so many frustrated customers abandon the process. According to a usability study done by Baymard, an effective checkout flow could be simplified to just 12-14 form elements.

4. Lack of Trust Signals

Lack of trust in a website is another big reason why shoppers leave the checkout process. With identity theft on the rise, it’s easy to see why customers are wary of giving information to sites they don’t trust. If there is a lack of trust signals on the website (like SSL certificates or customer reviews), around 17% of shoppers will ditch their cart and leave.

5. Poor Website Design or User Experience

Difficulty navigating an online store is also a major reason for abandonment. This may be another reason behind the very high abandonment rates on mobile devices. If the checkout process is long and complex, or something malfunctions during checkout, frustrated customers will leave the site.

Online Shopping Cart Abandonment Effects

Understanding why abandonment happens can be really beneficial to a business’s marketing plan. That being said, cart abandonment can still have some negative effects on their bottom line. Lost carts impact not only sales but many other marketing metrics. Some of the most damaging online shopping cart abandonment effects include:

Lost Revenue and Conversions

The most obvious effect of shopping cart abandonment is a loss of revenue and conversions. Any time a buyer puts something in their cart and then fails to check out, it is a missed opportunity to make a sale.

Inventory and Product Availability Reductions

Online stores may lose sales when inventory is low from products sitting in abandoned carts. Online bookings for hotel rentals might also be impacted when slots are filled but not purchased.

Lowered Return on Investment

Losing customers at the last minute can lower ROI (return on investment), which impacts a lot of other important metrics. Low landing page conversions may be due to lost carts.

Skewed Data

Cart abandonment can also make it difficult to track the success of other marketing strategies. If you have lower conversions after paying for an ad campaign, you might think that it has failed. In reality, it could be your checkout process that is causing your abandonment rate to go up!

Shopping Cart Abandonment Statistics in 2021

Shopping cart abandonment provides important data for marketers to study. In recent years, it has become one of the major issues for businesses to solve. However, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As long as businesses and marketers understand how to interpret the metrics, they can learn how to use them to improve the online shopping experience for their customers. Below are some of the most important cart abandonment statistics marketers should know in 2021.

  • The average abandonment rate among all industries is nearly 70%!
  • E-commerce brands lose around $18 billion in sales revenue each year due to cart abandonment
  • Optimizing your checkout process can increase conversions by over 35%
  • 57% of shoppers will abandon a cart if the site takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • Cart abandonment is highest in the travel industry (81%)
  • 46% of shoppers leave because a discount code doesn’t work
  • 55% of shoppers will abandon if they have to re-enter their credit card information

5 Tips to Reduce the Abandonment Rate

#1: Give a Full and Accurate Product Description

One very important way to reduce your site’s shopping cart abandonment rate is to make sure potential customers know exactly what they are purchasing. When they add something to their cart, they should have all the information they need. Many buyers will leave during checkout if they discover the item is not what they expected.

To avoid this, make sure that your product listings contain complete and accurate information. List important details in easy-to-scan bullet-point lists. Also, make sure you don’t skimp on the details. Use multiple high-resolution photos to showcase the product from every angle.

#2: Simplify the Checkout Process

Having a complicated checkout process can scare away potential customers. To avoid this, narrow down your checkout to as few steps as possible. It is most important to shorten the payment process. This is where a lot of potential buyers are lost. Be sure to include a progress bar so that buyers can see exactly how many more steps it will take to complete their purchase.

#3: Send Checkout Recovery Emails

Checkout recovery emails are a proven tactic for recovering sales from abandoned shopping carts. There are a few easy ways to optimize recoveries. First, offer a discount. Around 35% of buyers who click a recovery email link with a discount will return to finish their purchase. Second, keep the message short and to the point. Third, add a sense of urgency. Let buyers know that there is a limited time to use their discount or that their item may run out of stock.

#4: Offer a Guest Checkout Option

Many shoppers don’t want to take the time to create an account on a website. Especially if they just want to make a quick purchase. If you force them to create an account, they may end up leaving. Even worse, they may move over to another store! Giving shoppers the opportunity to checkout as a guest takes the pressure off of the buying process and makes it a more positive experience. You may lose out on the chance to get some valuable marketing information, but if guests are happy, there is a better chance they will become repeat customers.

#5: Provide Real-Time Assistance

It has been proven that utilizing live chat can help to increase revenue. This is especially true when it comes to the online checkout process. Most buyers want to complete their purchase as quickly as possible. Having someone there to answer questions immediately can help speed the process along. This is why live chat is the preferred method of contact for online shopping.

Improving the Online Shopping Experience

Online shopping cart abandonment is a very common problem that many online retailers are attempting to solve. Knowing exactly why your customers are leaving is an important first step in reducing the abandonment rate. Managing an effective and user-friendly e-commerce platform takes a lot of careful consideration. SEO Design Chicago’s e-commerce web development team can help you design your best website to create an outstanding online shopping experience for your customers.


  • What is shopping cart abandonment?
  • How do you calculate abandonment rate?
  • What percentage of shopping carts are abandoned?
  • How to reduce shopping cart abandonment rate?
  • Are abandoned online shopping carts bad?

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