back to resources

Why Is Shopping Cart Abandonment A Problem For Retailers?

By
Bradley Johnson
Table of Contents

Shopping cart abandonment is when a customer adds products to their online cart, but doesn't buy them. Whether you’re just now starting an eCommerce business or have a successful venture already, you’re bound to face this issue at some point.

In today’s eCommerce landscape, nearly 70% of shopping carts are abandoned. That’s a startlingly large amount!

So why is shopping cart abandonment a problem for retailers, and what does an abandoned cart recovery plan look like? Keep reading for answers to these questions plus the top reasons for abandoned shopping carts. 

Why Are Businesses Concerned About Shopping Cart Abandonment?

As you’ve seen, there are more shoppers who start but don’t finish the transaction process than those who finish it. Any business owner who understands the nature and severity of this problem wants to resolve it quickly. 

It’s much easier to prompt someone who started checking out to finish buying the products than it is to convince brand new visitors. At the very least, someone who already placed products in their cart sees value in what you offer. Still, the problem needs to be addressed.

If you’ve never assessed your cart abandonment rate before, here are the top three reasons to make it a priority: 

You’re Losing Sales and Customers

The most obvious problem with shopping cart abandonment is you’re missing out on a sale. A lost sale means you lost a customer as well, whether their order was small or large.

It could be that the customer was multitasking and forgot about their shopping, but usually, this is caused by something else. Intangible factors like psychological pricing and website usability play into a buyer’s decision to complete a purchase. 

Website design is no simple task. You have to ensure shoppers understand all the main features of your site while verifying that your backend data flows smoothly. For an idea of what this looks like in the real world, check out these eCommerce website examples, best dropshipping websites, and subscription website examples.

Given that only 30% of customers complete a transaction they start, this means most businesses are hemorrhaging shoppers. This creates an ongoing issue where you have to constantly acquire more customers than you’re successfully closing a sale with. 

Prospects and Returning Customers View Carts Differently

Another factor that often flies under the radar is whether or not a returning customer or prospect abandoned their cart. The two different kinds of shoppers treat their buying experience differently, so you should, too. 

A prospect may have abandoned their cart because they found different or better products elsewhere. It’s a negligible loss to them to spend a little more time finding products they’d rather buy. 

Cases like this are a good reason to keep your eCommerce business plan and eCommerce marketing strategy updated. Having a clear target market, relevant messaging, and attractive deals are all part of the game. It’s discouraging knowing that a percentage of shoppers on your site leave for someone else’s work.

A returning customer’s behavior is a little more complex to understand. For example, previous customers may have returned because they love your products but haven’t checked out yet.

They may enjoy batch shopping and want to buy everything in their cart after a span of several days. To encourage these shoppers to buy, offer a small discount if people complete their order within 15 minutes of starting it. This is enough time to finish the transaction, while offering no good reason to sit on a full cart for several days. 

Top Reasons for Abandoning Shopping Cart

Whether you’re selling on an online marketplace, through BlueCart eCommerce, or with an eCommerce website builder, you need to grasp what consumers experience when they check out. Seemingly insignificant factors can cause people to pause or cancel a transaction at any point. 

Here are the top five reasons for shopping cart abandonment: 

Competitors’ Products Are More Appealing

One common reason for abandoned carts is competitor products that meet buyers’ needs better. It’s not fun to acknowledge, but if a competitor offers better goods or services, you’re probably losing buyers to them. 

The tricky part about this is you can’t know exactly why a customer chose one product over another. Perhaps they wanted a different material, their favorite color, or a less expensive version of your product. Sometimes completely different needs or wants influence a buying decision. 

Every case of competitors capturing shoppers differs, but it often comes down to these details: 

  • Product features. Today’s customers expect the products they buy to be cutting edge. In a world where you can buy anything, high demand products that offer the best range of features come out on top. This applies to everything from headphones and laptops to jackets and recreational supplies. It’s no less true when looking for wholesale items to sell.
  • Price. Yes, we know this is the oldest factor in the book, but it still wins customers every day. If buyers find a product that’s the same value but lower cost, they’ll often choose that. If you haven’t cut costs in a while, look at your raw materials inventory and consider which suppliers may be better suited for your business.
  • Better shipping options. Convenient shipping and handling is of great importance to customers. Roughly three in four consumers look for free shipping and if shipping is more than people want to pay in general, they’ll drop the entire purchase. Make sure you offer competitive shipping rates and speeds that buyers have become accustomed to. 
  • No added costs. If customer capturing isn’t attributed to any of the above three factors, it usually comes down to unexpected costs. Shoppers understand that taxes are par for the course. However, if you have service and convenience fees tacked on, this can deter most buyers. Eliminate any expenses you can, or at the very least, build them into products’ pricing.

Shipping Costs Are Too High

eCommerce shipping costs are so important to the average consumer that they can often make or break an entire purchase. Free shipping has become so ubiquitous over the years that consumers widely expect it.

72% of consumers are willing to pay up to $5 for shipping, and another 16% will pay up to $10. After $10, the likelihood of a customer completing a transaction drops down to 3% or less. 

If your business hasn’t evaluated eCommerce shipping companies for a partnership opportunity yet, it’s wise to do so. Many shipping services offer bulk shipping rates which you pass to your customers in the form of lower transaction totals. 

If you haven’t researched how much does it cost to ship a package yet, you should make time to do so. Building shipping costs into your business model is essential for profit, and can reveal cost savings that you may have previously been unaware of.

Checkout Process Is Too Complicated

This issue often flies under the radar, but a lengthy or burdensome checkout process kills transactions in no time. Purchasing anything is an emotional process because shoppers are excited about what they’re buying. 

The moments after a buyer has added items to their shopping cart are usually when their happiness is the highest. This is why your checkout process should consist of one page, or two at most. Shoppers are exponentially more likely to abandon checkout if the buying process is three pages or more. 

If your checkout process isn’t minimalist and intuitive to use yet, make this a priority. You’re literally leaving money on the table if shoppers consider your transaction setup too difficult to use. 

Make it easy on yourself and save money by listing your products on BlueCart eCommerce. We offer industry-lowest payment processing fees and a simple, 2-step checkout process for every customer. Our platform is also optimized for web and mobile, comes with eCommerce marketing automation tools like email marketing, and much more. Book a demo now to see what BlueCart can do for you. 

Unexpected or Unwanted Costs

Online shopping is incredibly popular in part because of its convenience and lower cost. Customers can browse hundreds of items in minutes, instead of spending the time and money to show up at a physical location. 

That’s just one reason why customers don’t take lightly to unforeseen costs. If your handling costs are separate from shipping or you include convenience fees, be warned that buyers see this as a reason to forgo purchasing. 

Instead, look at ways to improve your warehousing efforts by revamping your warehouse organization. An ABC analysis can show you which products are bestsellers. Then, these can be repositioned closer to picking and packing stations, so warehouse staff don’t need to walk far to find them.

Decided Not to Buy

Another reason that shoppers abandon their cart is simply because they didn’t want to buy anymore. They may have forgotten that the browser tab was open, lost interest in the product, or exercised some personal financial discipline. 

Still, it’s challenging to understand why buyers change their mind at the last minute. Today’s pace of eCommerce is exponentially faster than it was even 10 years ago, which definitely plays a part in it. Choice overwhelm is another factor; consumers can choose from a much wider pool of products than ever before. 

A powerful way to combat this problem is to periodically survey your customers. Ask them what their favorite products are, what they like about them, and what they’d like to see changed. Customers who appreciate your business will give honest answers because they know their input will be used to improve your goods and services. 

Abandoned No More

Shopping cart abandonment is a problem that should be treated with all of the seriousness it’s due. Make it intuitive and fast for customers to check out, whether they’re buying $5 or $500 worth of products. Make sure you set up an abandoned cart email too, so your shoppers are prompted to return and finish the purchase.