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20 Ways to Destroy Shopping Cart Abandonment (from 20 Years of Experience)

  • 20 min read

Updated 10/21/20

While there are countless ways you can improve your site, every option has the same end goal: increase profitability.

Unfortunately, I think most companies are going about this the wrong way.

While things like organic traffic and paid ads will certainly help boost your traffic, if your shopping cart abandonment remains high, you’re wasting a lot of time and money.

And for most companies, instances of shopping cart abandonment are really, really high.

According to research done by the Baymard Institute that looked at 41 different studies on cart abandonment stats:

The average shopping cart abandonment rate is an absolutely brutal 69.57%!

Think about that for a moment.

That means that if your site currently converts, say, 1,000 customers a month, you’re missing out on another 3,216 who abandoned their carts.

3,216!

Even if you are only able to improve your site's checkouts by just 10%, the result would be almost300 extra purchases a month.

Would those additional customers have a noticeable impact on your business?

Best of all, adding those 300 new customers by improving cart abandonments is going to cost you a lot less – both in terms of time and money – than trying to achieve the same through SEO or PPC.

So, before you invest more time into attracting organic traffic or more money into buying paid ads, you’d be better off focusing on the nearly 70% of visitors who are already coming to your site, reviewing your products, putting at least one of them into a cart, and then leaving without buying.

20 Proven Ways to Absolutely Destroy Shopping Cart Abandonment

At IWD, we’ve been helping eCommerce companies improve their sites since 2001.

During that time, we’ve worked with countless clients who weren’t completely thrilled with how often shoppers were abandoning their carts.

Does that sound familiar?

Did that opening stat make you wonder if your site’s checkout page is turning away more customers than it converts?

If so, don’t worry. I’ve compiled 20 of the best ways our agency has learned to absolutely destroy shopping cart abandonment for eCommerce clients across a number of different industries.

1. Use Social Proof to Make Purchasing an Easy Decision

One of the best ways you can keep your customers from getting cold feet at the checkout page is by addressing it before they ever get there.

In other words, you want your customers to know they’re making the right decision the moment they decide to buy.

To do this, I highly recommend you leverage the power of social proof.

If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s just a fancy way of saying that people tend to more readily adopt the same opinions as everyone else.  

For example, if you drive by a new restaurant and see that its line is out the door, you’ll likely assume it must be a pretty good restaurant even if you otherwise know nothing about it. You’ll be far more likely to visit it now.

Likewise, if your customers see that a lot of people like the product you sell, they’ll be more inclined to think it’s worth purchasing.

This why product reviews are an absolute must  or your eCommerce company, especially if customers regularly abandon their carts.

According to a report by Bizrate that looked at the power of customer reviews, 92% of shoppers report reading at least one before making a purchase. If you don’t have that information ready for them, don’t be surprised if they decide to look elsewhere for it – and make their purchase elsewhere, too.

The good news is that it’s never been easier to leverage the social-proof-power of product reviews. Once the sole domain of a little site called Amazon, there are multiple product review plugins no matter what platform your site is built on.  

Here’s an example from Runners Athletics of how simple it is to use effective product reviews:

 

 

Right when potential customers visit this page, they see proof that 46 people have purchased these sunglasses and absolutely love them.

Does this increase the chance of a sale?

Absolutely.

Runners takes it one step further, though.

While this won’t be realistic for every company, if at all possible, take a (web) page out of this company’s’ playbook and show how happy your customers are when using your product (admittedly, Tim doesn’t look that happy, but he was probably just caught up in emotion).

For a lot of products, including lengthier customer testimonials is an incredibly powerful way to get them excited about their purchase before they’re on the checkout page considering whether or not to continue with their cart.

You can have them on a separate page, but I’d recommend at least including a quote and a link on your product page that entices shoppers into learning why other customers love your product so much.

I’m going to cover a lot of cart abandonment tips that involve the actual checkout page, too, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to set up that page for success. If you want more buyers, show them they won’t have to worry about buyer’s remorse.  

2. Keep Navigation Simple, Simple, Simple

KISS isn’t just anawesome cool pretty good band. It’s also very good advice for a successful checkout page: KeepItSimpleStupid.

(I preferKeep ISimple Sir/Ma'am because I’m not a jerk, but whatever)

The simpler it is for customers to navigate to your checkout page and navigate back to product pages if they decide they want to keep shopping, the less likely they’ll be to ditch their carts.

According to that Baymard Institute study I cited at the beginning, 26% of shoppers abandon their carts because the checkout process is either too long or too complicated.

What does it take to KISS this problem goodbye?

First, don’t make customers use the Back button if they decide they want to add more to their cart. It should be a seamless process to click “Keep Shopping” and get right back to your store (I’ll expand on this in section 4).

Second, this means you need to prioritize your site’s navigability.

If people struggle to view your products, they can’t put them in your cart to begin with, which will kill your conversion rate. The same problem will also skyrocket shopping cart abandonment if customers leave to go find more products but have a hard time doing so.

Simple sites are almost always more effective in terms of SEO, CRO, UX – basically all of the important acronyms.

But KISS is also asimpleway you can also improve your shopping cart’s performance.

3. Include Progress Markers for Longer Checkout Pages

Now, let’s start talking about the actual checkout page itself.

Because even if you convince customers that your products are greatandmake it easy to bring those products to the checkout page, regular cart abandonments are still inevitable if that checkout page is a mess.

My first tip here is a simple one: if your checkout page is actually checkout pages let customers know right away.

Ideally, you want to keep your checkout page short and sweet. Just like with the navigation of your site, simplicity leads to success.

That being said, multipage checkouts have their advantages and might make the most sense for your company.

In that case, let customers know how many pages they have to go through – or even how many steps are involved – in order to check out. Otherwise, they may decide not to and now you have an abandoned cart.

Below is a good example of what I’m talking about from Soylent. See how they monitor your progress at the top? Currently, I’m on the Information page. Next, I’ll fill out Shipping.

Soylent is also a good example because it helps answer a question we get a lot from clients:

“Are customers really abandoning their cart because we don’t show them how many checkout pages we have?”

Remember that 26% of customers said they have abandoned carts because the checkout process was either too long or too complicated.

So, yes.

It definitely happens.

However, my feeling is that, if you’re selling a one-of-a-kind product like Soylent, people who have made it to your checkout page will probably stick around even if you don’t let them know how many more steps are coming.

After all, where else are they going to find something like that?

On the other hand, if you sell something that customers know – or at least think – they can find on another site with less hassle, then they’ll be more likely to bail at the first sign of inconvenience.

Either way, my advice is don’t risk it. As you can see, even the team behind the wildly unique Soylent decided to add a progress tracker to keep abandonment low.

Do the same thing.

Enjoy the same result.

4. Allow Customers to Save Their Carts

Not all carts that are abandoned are abandoned permanently, which means there’s still a chance for your company to close the sale, provided you let customers save their carts.

This is also a great way to increase conversionsand average order amount while destroying shopping cart abandonment.

It may seem like an obvious step to many of you – it’s another one right out of Amazon’s playbook – but we’ve actually worked with companies that have put it off. They reason that their site is easy to navigate, their product is great, and their copy is fine-tuned to convert. In their minds, customers should have had no reason to put off purchasing.

And yet, they still saw their carts abandoned.

Why?

Because people love to comparison shop.

According to research by KISSmetrics, 27% of people who ditch their carts “want to compare prices on other sites.”

A streamlined website with amazing copy, tons of positive reviews, and all kinds of detailed videos isn’t going to change this. Customers will still leave your site to see what else the Internet has to offer.

When they come to their senses and realize how good they had it on your site, welcome them with open arms vis-à-vis the shopping cart they left behind.

KISSmetrics found that an additional41%of customers simply aren’t ready to purchase when they leave their carts behind. So, no, they’re not cheating on you with another site. They haven’t necessarily given up on the purchase, either.

Whether they’re the back the next day, the next week, or even the next month, make it easy for customers to pick up where they left off by saving their cart.

5. Keep Your Cart Where Your Customers Can See It

In my opinion, it’s just as important to keep the cart visible on your site, especially for customers who may leave and come back.

For example, when I visit Amazon, here’s what my cart looks like:

If I’m only visiting to peruse – with no real intent to buy – that might change now that I remember I left some items in my cart last time.

That said, you can also reduce the likelihood of that initial abandonment by prominently displaying what a customer already has in their cart.

Once again, Amazon does a great job of this. As I continue shopping, there’s a panel on the right to show me what’s currently in my cart:

...what?

This also reduces the chances that I’ll reach the checkout page, remember that I forgot something (e.g. Legally Blonde 4), and abandon my cart to go find it. My cart would still be waiting for me when I return, of course – whenever that is – but I’m sure Amazon would appreciate the sale sooner rather than later.

6. Allow Guests to Check Out

In some industries, it would make sense to require that shoppers create an account before they can buy from your site.

In some industries.

For example, we have a B2B client that works in an industry where customized pricing is the norm. They don’t even list prices for the vast majority of their products because they can’t give a price until they know who the customer is (and what company they’re buying for).

Aside from that exception, I recommend that you allow guests to check out.

Doing so means you will sacrifice some of the benefits of requiring accounts from customers. Namely, you won’t have their email addresses or other data you can use to market to them.

On the other hand, if you lose customers because they don’t want to go through the time-consuming process of creating an account (remember: KISS), you’re foregoing that data anywayandthe sale.

If you want more accounts, incentivize customers by offering them a newsletter, a lead magnet, or even a discount.

Otherwise, let customers check out as guests to avoid a bloated abandonment rate.

7. Optimize the Load Time of Your Cart Page

Everyone knows that one of the most important factors for a website’s success is load time. The faster, the better.

In fact, according to Dotcom-Monitor:

“…40% of polled Internet users report abandoning a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Moreover, 47% of users expect desktop sites to load in 2 seconds or less.”

If your site is taking longer than five seconds to load, chances are that many visitors are simply giving up long before they make it to your checkout page.

However, many of those whodomake it may still leave before checking out if that page takes too long to load.

Ultimately, speeding up your entire site is the best way to help your checkout page, too. Some examples of how you can begin increasing its speed include:

Treat load time as a priority and everything from organic traffic to conversions to shopping cart abandonment will improve dramatically.

8. Make Sure Your Cart Is Mobile-Friendly

Just like with speed, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, shoppers probably aren’t making it to your cart in the first place.

Google loves mobile-friendly sites.

That said, your site can technically be mobile-friendly and still have a checkout page that sends mobile users running.

To avoid seeing shopping cart abandonments skyrocket because of mobile users, you must keep the layout of your checkout pages short, so little – if any – scrolling is required. Remember: simple checkouts are successful checkouts.

This is another reason to opt for guest checkout, too. Force someone to create an account from their smartphone and the first thing they’re going to think is, “Where else can I buy this?”

9. Show Your Customers That Their Payment Information Is in Secure Hands

Many of the clients we’ve helped have gone to great – even impressive – lengths to keep their customers’ payment information secure. They’ve made every effort to defend their site against cybercriminals and to ensure that their checkout page is a virtual Fort Knox.

And yet, all of this work didn’t remotely help their cart abandonment situation.

Why?

Because customers didn’tseewhat good hands they were in.

They didn’tknowthey could trust the site.

So they didn’t.

When Baymard Institute researched the importance of customer trust in checkout pages, they discovered that, “17% of users have abandoned a checkout flow during the last 3 months because they ‘didn’t trust the site with their credit card information’.”

Tackle this issue with some smart design cues and many of your cart abandoners will reconsider.

The simplest way to do this is by adding the logo of the security platform you use to your checkout page.

lack of these “trust logos" is enough reason for 61% of your customers to abandon their carts and look for a site that has them.

Here’s a great example from NutriGold of a checkout page that proves it’s secure:

Along with their money-back guarantee, they give four other reasons to believe your payment information is safe-and-sound with this checkout page.

If you really want customers to trust your checkout process, here’s an interesting insight from Baynard’s research:

“What we consistently observe is that any parts of a checkout page with trust badges, reassuring microcopy and a general visual “robustness” are often perceived as being “more secure”, while parts without these visual clues inspire less confidence – despite the fact that these fields are all part of the same form on the same page.”

Logically, this doesn’t make any sense, of course. As the article goes on to explain, every field on an HTTPS page is encrypted. Nonetheless, this isn’t how many customers perceive it.

Still, you can give customers this added sense of security with another design cue. Baynard recommends actually offsetting the payment field from the rest of the page. By doing so, customers perceive that there’s an added level of security for this important section.

You can do this by putting an actual border around this field, using different colors, adding shading, or changing the style of your copy.

Here’s an example from Crate and Barrel that shows just how easy it is to make your shopping cart seem more secure:

All they did was put a border around their payment field to earn a greater sense of trust from their customers. You can bet their conversion rate has benefited as a result.

10. Accept Multiple Payment Options

Another really simple way to keep customers from abandoning their carts is accepting multiple payment options.

Just like with your trust logos, it may be easy to take this kind of feature for granted. What modern sitedoesn’taccept every major payment option?

Still, if you take anything away from this list, I hope it’s that you can never be too careful when it comes to reducing shopping cart abandonment.

It turns out that a “variety of payment options” is the third-most important option online customers want to see when they visit a checkout page. More than half – 56% – of customers want to see confirmation that you accept these payments when they visit your checkout page.

So, yeah, it’s important.

Another similarity to trust logos: you actually need toshowcustomers this is the case. Put the logos of the cards you accept where they’ll be able to see them right away. Don’t forget other options you might also accept like PayPal, Apple Pay, Stripe, Amazon Pay, and Google wallet.

Here’s how AutoZone lets their shoppers know what kinds of payment options they accept:

That’s really all it takes. Customers immediately know if the company accepts their preferred payment option. When you give shoppers the information they need, they’re less likely to abandon their carts.

11. Keep Your CTAs Clear

Calls-to-action (CTAs) are commonplace in eCommerce.

Marketers rely on powerful CTAs to persuade website visitors into becoming customers. Usually, you find them at the bottom of a product page or even the end of a blog post.

Many marketers consider these kinds of CTAs almost an art form and I could probably write just as much about what it takes to get the most from them.

However, when it comes to CTAs for your site’s shopping cart, I want you to stay focused on simplicity. It’s become trendy to find news ways to say, “Buy Now”, “Check Out”, or “Continue to Your Cart.”

But, as far as I know, there’s no evidence that proves those alternatives are more effective.

Let’s take a look at how Nike strings together CTAs to get take visitors from shopping to checkout to purchase.

First, when you consider one of their shoes, “Checkout” – a very clear CTA – is right there above the fold. No need for me to go looking to take the next step.

Once you click, “Add to Cart”, you have two more clear CTAs. You can choose to review your cart or just proceed with checkout. There’s no ambiguity and, again, the customer isn’t forced to figure out where to go to complete the transaction. They don’t have to find the shopping cart logo somewhere on the page to hand over their money.

Finally, when I click “Checkout”, there’s one more button telling me exactly what to do:

Don’t ever assume your customers know what to do next when you’re trying to get them to your checkout page and a successful sale.

If it’s good enough for Nike – the largest athletic apparel company in the entire world – I hope you’ll consider it for your checkout pages.

12. Show High-Quality Images of Your Products the Entire Time

Another takeaway from that Nike example is that no matter what screen they show customers during their checkout process, there’salwaysan image of the product they’re selling.

Similar to the progress markers in Section 3, this serves to remind the customer to keep going through the checkout process. It keeps their eyes on the prize.

Remember that we areallcomparison shoppers. Your customers are constantly looking elsewhere for a better deal or superior product.

Even in Nike’s case, customers can go look on other sites that sell their shoes.

Then,there’s the fact that your average Internet user is constantly distracted. Sure, they want your product, but they may also have a dozen or other tabs vying for their attention, too.

Don’t risk losing that attention for even a second. Use high-quality images throughout your checkout process to get them to their cart to complete the sale.

13. Offer Free Shipping

During these tumultuous times, it’s helpful to remember that there’s still one thing that brings us all together:

Everyone hates shipping costs.

Remember when I mentioned that shoppers say “a variety of payment options” is the third most important aspect of a checkout page?

Well, it should come as no surprise that themostimportant is “free shipping options.”

Ever since Amazon made free shipping the norm, customers have begun to expect it fromeveryeCommerce store, regardless of the industry. If you don’t offer free shopping, many shoppers will assume your competitors do. Even if this isn’t actually the case, you’ve still lost them. Your cart abandonment is now higher, and that customer may never come back to complete the sale.

Free shipping is so important that many retailers don’t even wait for their product pages to point out that they offer it. Nordstrom is one of many that understands how important this policy is, which is why they call attention to it before shoppers even click on a specific product:

If your company doesn’t currently offer free shipping, I know that’s not necessarily a change you can make overnight, but it’s definitely one you need to consider. Something as simple as including “Free Shipping” in your meta titles could be enough to increase your traffic from search results pages and a higher conversion rate, too, which will ultimately mean a lot more sales.

14. Don’t Leave Out Any Costs

While we’re on the topic of costs, don’t forget about any others you may charge. Leaving them until the very end is a great way to increase shopping cart abandonment.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely abandoned a lot of carts because the company waited until thelast secondto say, “Oh, and also, you need to pay for this, this, and this.”

…forget it.

Be upfront aboutallof your costs as early as possible.

This goes double for those shipping costs we just covered as 28% of shoppers will abandon their carts if they weren’t expecting them to show up.

So, if youhaveto charge them, be upfront or you’re going to lose a lot of your customers just before they check out.

15. Call Attention to Your Guarantee

As I mentioned at the very beginning of this post, you should make every effort to show your shoppers just how happy other shoppers have been with their purchases. Leveraging social proof like this is one of the most powerful ways to eliminate objections.

Still, you’ll seeeven betterresults if you guarantee your products with a customer-friendly return policy. Just like with free shipping, customers have come to expect that companies guarantee their products. This is especially true with eCommerce companies because customers can’t actually see their products in-person, touch them, or try them out.

If you already do have one of these policies, then the next step is to make sure shoppers actually know about it.

Ratio Coffee does this with a banner on every page. It not only shows their free-shipping policy. It includes a link to their unique “Love It” guarantee. 

Don’t leave it to your customers to discover your guarantee, even if you link to it down in the footer like many companies do. Call attention to it with banners like these and in every product description, so there’s no way they can miss it.

16. Use Live Chat to Answer Last-Minute Questions

Sometimes, even an ironclad guarantee won’t be enough to help lift your company’s shopping cart abandonment. In my experience, this is especially true for businesses that offer unique products that many of their customers are buying for the first time. These customers may need a little extra help to feel comfortable with this purchase.

In these situations, even the best, most detailed product descriptions are only going to get you so far. Many customers will still leave their carts at the last second. Offer them the chance to speak to someone, ask their questions, and get answers unique to their needs, and you’ll keep their business.

You can even take things a step further like Beardbrand does. They also include a banner on every single one of their pages, but they actually invite shoppers to text them for personalized consulting, so they’ll be more confident in their orders. 

This one extra step probably gets a lot more shoppers to the checkout page and keeps their cart abandonment low, because of the confidence it gives customers in their buying decision.

17. Try Catching Abandoners with Popup Ads

Even if you implement all 16 of the tips we’ve covered so far, some shoppers are still going to leave. That’s why I often recommended exit-intent popup ads to many of our clients.

In short, these are ads that only pop up when a shopper’s behavior signifies that they’re about to leave.

This is what distinguishes them from typical popup ads, which many eCommerce marketers don’t use because they believe customers find them annoying. In the case of exit-intend popup ads, you have nothing to lose. The shopper was going to abandon their cart, so why not make one last attempt at getting them to complete your checkout page?

18. Don’t Give Up on Shoppers Who Abandon Their Carts – Retarget Them

Even then, you’ll still have some shoppers who abandon their carts and ignore your exit-intent popup ads on their way out. They might have every intention of returning later, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them.

With aremarketing campaign for abandoned carts, you’ll follow up with those shoppers who made it to that final step without becoming customers. It can be as easy as sending them an email to remind them that they left items in their cart.

Just like with popup ads, there’s really no risk in sending out these emails. You can’t lose business you never had. This is why many eCommerce companies will actually send multiple emails to shoppers who have left items in their carts.

Of course, you need their email addresses in order to run those kinds of campaigns.

What about customers who don’t provide them?

In that case, make room in your budget to run Facebook and Google Ads. They’ll give you an even better return than normal PPC ads because they’re focused solely on people who have already visited your site, shown interest in a product,andput it in their cart.

I would go so far as to say that it’s almost always a good idea to cut back on SEO and other PPC efforts if that’s what it takes to invest in remarketing campaigns aimed at reducing shopping cart abandonment. Otherwise, your conversion rate is always going to fall far short of its potential no matter how much traffic you bring to your site.

19. Find the Leaks in Your Conversion Funnel

Speaking of increasing your eCommerce company’s conversion rate, if you’re not already regularly reviewing your site’s flow chart in Google Analytics, I would highly recommend you start doing that ASAP. Many of our clients have discovered amazing opportunities to increase their conversions just by reviewing how shoppers navigate through their sites.

Reducing shopping cart abandonment is a perfect example.

We’ve talked about a few different ways you can preempt an abandoned shopping cart long before the actual checkout page. The point is that, even though a shopper may make it therebeforethey leave your site, the seeds of that decision may have been planted much earlier.

So, when you review your site’s flow chart, look for the pages that lose the most traffic. Improving them will not just keep more users on your site. Those improvements may also help with abandonments, too.

Don’t stop there.

Look at the most popular paths you see customers taking to get to your product pages.

Do they offer opportunities to make your visitors excited about placing an order?

For example, many of your visitors probably end up on your website because of a blog post.

What a perfect place to put images of your products, testimonials, banners for your free shipping policy, and any other advantages of buying from your company.

20. A/B Test for the Best Possible Checkout Experience

Lastly, as you begin making changes to your website’s checkout experience, I encourage you to invest in A/B testing to make sure you’re always making the right ones.

Although we’ve covered 19 different strategies that I know can combat shopping cart abandonment, every company is different. Some of these methods are going to work better for you than others. You’ll most likely have to make some tweaks here and there for the best possible results, too.

The most effective way to do this is by using A/B testing to try out different checkout pages to see which ones earn the most cart completions. You can take this same approach with everything from which testimonials work best to what subject lines get your cart abandonment emails opened the most.

Although this is the last strategy on the list, don’t put it off.

While some of these are simple enough that you could probably put them into effect today (e.g. adding testimonials, advertising your shipping policy and guarantee, being upfront about your costs, etc.), the sooner you become comfortable with A/B testing, the sooner you can use it to improve your cart abandonment rate, conversion rate, clickthrough rate – any rate you care about!

Convert More of the Traffic You Spend So Much Money On

As you may have noticed throughout this article, I’m a huge proponent of treating your checkout page as one of the most important on your entire site. Most companies hardly touch theirs at all after the initial version is published.

But, month after month, they spend large sums on increasing how much traffic they can get to their site. They might invest in new services, platforms, or even new channels.

All the while, their checkout page remains the same, so their checkout abandonment does, too.

Don’t let this happen to your company.

The lower you get your shopping cart abandonment, the more the traffic you’re already working so hard for will be worth.

At IWD, we’d be happy to help.

Our team of eCommerce specialists has created a powerful checkout suite that you can customize a number of different ways to fit your business’s unique needs. It’s cloud-based, responsive, works with PayPal Commerce Platform, and is completely free.

You can always contact us with any specific questions you have, too. 

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