The Trouble with Cart Abandonment

Anyone with an online store will have come across the problem of abandoned shopping carts at some point or another. Frustrating and somewhat worrying, this is actually fairly common - as a mater of fact, anything between 75 and 90 per cent of all carts are being left abandoned. Store owners will no doubt be wondering why this is happening - and what they can do to prevent it.

As it is, recent studies revealed that there is a multitude of possible reasons for cart abandonment, including (shown with percentages of incidents):

72% - High shipping rates
61% - Browsing/ comparison shopping
56% - Consumers changed their minds
51% - Items are being saved for purchase at a later date
41% - Confusing/ lengthy checkout process
35% - Too much personal data required for checkout
34% - Purchases require initial site registration
31% - Unreliable/ unstable site

While much is out of the stores control as far as shipping rates are concerned, offering free shipping with minimum purchase amounts and/ or free shipping around Christmas (when competition is at its fiercest) may help to prevent at least some incidences. Keeping these rates as low as possible in order to prevent them effectively doubling original purchase costs also helps.

Offering consumers to compare products against other retailers on-site prevents them leaving to find similar items - and if prices are included, they may also realise the site they are on offers the best deal. While there is little stores can do about users changing their minds, they can place action-triggers revealing special offers that may help to make a sale that would otherwise have been abandoned.

Cart abandonment through items being saved for the future can be prevented by providing a 'Wish list' option. While this still does not guarantee sales, it prevents cart abandonment. Over-complicated checkout procedures can easily be rectified, and it is often also possible to reduce the amount of information required to a minimum. Site registration must be available quickly, hassle-free and immediate if cart abandonment is to be prevented. It may also help to indicate this requirement before people start to shop.

Naturally, if carts are being abandoned because the site is unstable, measures have to be taken to improve stability by ensuring technical issues are prevented as much as possible and, if they do occur, are dealt with quickly and effectively. The problem is, if errors occur during the effort to reach the checkout in the first place, users do worry whether their personal and card information will be safe. As a result, carts are abandoned.

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