Marketing

What Is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

What Is Shopping Cart Abandonment?
Written by Lindsay Tigar

What is shopping cart abandonment? Shopping cart abandonment is when a potential, current, or returning customer begins an online order but doesn’t complete the purchase. Thus, resulting in a shopping cart that has items but is left without a sale.

We’ve all been there: You’re aimlessly browsing online, contemplating making a purchase, but before you pull the trigger and hand over your credit card, you click off the page or app. Though this seems like an innocent pastime when you’re bored or passing time, it’s a big problem for online retailers and those who are hyper-focused on sales.

In fact, digital marketers and content creators are tasked with lowering the click-off rate, thus reducing shopping cart abandonment. This is usually tackled through a variety of different tactics, from email and pop-ups to website flow and copy updates, and beyond.

Common shopping cart abandonment scenarios

For example, a digital marketer might conclude that customers aren’t going through the checkout process because sales tax and shipping costs aren’t given until a payment method is provided. Because people want to know the total of what they’re spending before they hand over a credit card, it makes sense they would “x” out. To solve this, a marketer will change the flow, utilizing better UX design and experience.

Or, say a customer clicks off, but they added many sales items to their cart before they left. An effective way to lure them back to the website to finish their purchase is to send a brief email about the sale coming to a close. If they are serious about obtaining the item, they will likely be tempted to click-through the email so they can take advantage of the savings.

Another scenario is one of the most problematic: technical issues. Often, if a website freezes, takes a long time to load, or otherwise fails the customer, they aren’t likely to convert. The same is true if any part of the checkout process is confusing or frustrating. With so much competition, online shops and services have to make their offerings crystal clear to avoid customers going to their competitors.

Digital strategists and content writers can help identify the pain points and guide engineering teams through restructuring processes to improve the experience.

Why does shopping cart abandonment happen?

Step one of coming up with solutions is understanding the common reasons behind shopping cart abandonment. Every website and audience will have different reasons for clicking off before submitting a purchase, but there are some common causes all digital marketers should keep an eye out for.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • High shipping costs. Unfortunately, with the prevalence of big-box retailers that don’t charge for shipping and can somehow ensure a package is delivered at record-speed, small shops must consider the price of shipping as part of their marketing strategy.
  • Lack of trust: This one is a big one since it’s unlikely anyone would hand over their credit card without faith. To build trust, a website needs to have easy-to-understand copy, reliable online reviews, a generous return policy and accessible, responsive customer service.
  • Payment options: It’s recommended to have several options, including credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, and so on, so customers can take the easiest route to checkout.
  • Browsing: It’s tough to cut back on browsing since it’s something many people enjoy, but there are effective tactics. One might be including sales and promotions for a limited time, incentives for referring friends, and so on.

Actions to take when you have high shopping cart abandonment

  • Investigate what causes customers to leave your website
  • Improve your overall user experience
  • Upgrade your checkout flow and process
  • Redesign and rewrite website copy to be more compelling and trustworthy
  • Strengthen email communication strategy to reduce the number of abandoned carts
  • Get feedback from customers on why they didn’t make a purchase, to inform strategy and budgets in the future
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About the author

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar is an experienced, established travel and lifestyle journalist, editor and content strategist. Since uprooting from Asheville, North Carolina in 2010 to Manhattan, Lindsay's work has appeared on several websites, including Travel + Leisure, Vogue, USA Today, Reader's Digest, Self, Refinery29 and countless others. While she is always up for the challenge of any assignment, her main areas of focus include travel, wellness, career, psychology, love and healthy living.

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