Shopping Cart Abandonment. The Problem and The Solution.

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Shopping Cart Abandonment. The Problem and The Solution.

By Bob Speyer, Web Success Team

The Problem: Shopping Cart abandonment has plagued e-commerce businesses since its inception. According to Forrester Research, last year 51% left before completing a purchase. Others report that it may even be as high as 70%. I’m sure you can relate, as we are all “guilty” of having second thoughts for a variety of “good” reasons.

In the past, shoppers were confused with the cart or checkout process. Today, this however is not the main reason as carts have been streamlined and are more intuitive. Now it seems that the biggest cause of cold feet is the high cost of shipping. 44% of 3,000 respondents in a Forrester survey identified this reason for leaving, followed by “not ready to purchase,” then price-comparison shopping, and finally the product price itself.


The Solution: Purchasing habits are not likely to change, particularly with increased online competition, comparison-shopping and looking for that “special deal.” However, instead of lowering prices and tolerating slimmer profit margins, here are a few suggestions to boost shopping cart completion and reduce abandonment rates:

  1. Soften the “shipping rates” blow and offer discounts earlier in the buying process. The optimum is free shipping, but for many retailers, this is not cost effective and practical. To soften the impact, shipping costs can be coupled with coupon codes or minimum orders. People are most upset by surprise shipping costs late in the process.
  2. Make it easy to buy! Retailers like to gather customer information for their database, however, many just want to buy and not have a reason to interrupt this process. Offer them a guest checkout that bypasses the registration. After purchase, this can be offered along with incentive coupons and other promotions.
  3. Create a secure shopper site. Some customers are reluctant to give their credit card details due to identity fraud. By posting security icons in plain view will reassure the consumer that the site is secure. Also include privacy and trust language next to any requests for personal data. It’s easy to do and amazingly effective.
  4. Provide money back guarantees and contact phone numbers. People want to make sure they are protected after the purchase. Providing money back guarantees, clearly stated return policies, contact phone numbers (toll free numbers are best), customer service email addresses and a postal address are essential. Your shopping site should be as transparent as possible.
  5. Provide payment options. Offering PayPal, Google Checkout or other similar options let shoppers complete transactions without entering their financial or shipping information because they are already subscribed to that payment system.
  6. Request Customer Feedback. Collecting data on why buyers leave is excellent marketing information to help improve your service and reduce customer dissatisfaction in the buying process. Sending them emails to say their cart is filled and waiting check out or ask them by they didn’t finalize their purchase.

It’s amazing what a little attention to detail can produce. In the end, purchasers want consideration and comfort. You do not want to give them a reason to leave. And believe me, many are skittish and looking for a way out! Creating a buying site that is easy to use, offers a clear path to purchase with confidence and transparent access to customer service and reviews will boost your completion rate.

One comment

  1. Jim
    December 16th, 2010 14:59  / 

    Great post! I too think that people are turned off by the shipping fees, even when the product is fantastic and well priced.

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