The Struggle to Boost Ecommerce Conversion and Reduce Cart Abandonment

According to Listrak, more than 75% of ecommerce shoppers over the last 6 months have abandoned their shopping cart. According to Business Insider, that translates to nearly $4 trillion annually in lost sales opportunities.

Fortunately, there are numerous simple fixes which can help merchants recover those lost sales.

Why Do Consumers Abandon Shopping Carts?

Let’s take a look first at what consumers say are the reasons they tend to engage in shopping cart abandonment:

Reason for Shopping Cart Abandonment % of Respondents
Shipping Costs Made the Total More than Expected 58%
Not Ready to Purchase, Comparing Total Costs Against Other Sites 57%
Not Ready to Purchase, Wanted to Save Cart for Later 55%
Order Value Not High Enough to Qualify for Free Shipping 50%
S&H Costs Listed Too Late During Checkout 37%
Estimated Shipping Time too Long Relative to Cost 28%
Didn’t Want to Register/Create an Account in Order to Purchase 28%
Preferred Payment Option Not Accepted 25%


If we look at all of the various reasons listed above, it’s clear several of the most frequently cited reasons for shopping cart abandonment are really about transparency and usability.

Many of the lost transactions could have been converted to sales, if only for a few adjustments on the merchant’s part. So, what can merchants do to try and turn some of those abandoned carts into satisfied customers?

How to Prevent Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shipping and the associated costs are a recurring trigger for consumers. While free shipping continues to be the most widely preferred option, it is not the only valued option. There are several ways merchants can make their shipping policies, website, procedures and checkout process easier to navigate.

    Shipping Costs Made the Total More than Expected

    Don’t try to trick your customers into paying more; instead, offer full disclosure up-front.

    Customers are more likely to start and then follow through with a purchase if your shipping rates are clearly stated. On the other hand, if your shipping rates are kept secret until the end, consumers are likely to leave and shop with a competitor instead.

    Not Ready to Purchase, Comparing Total Costs Against Other Sites

    It’s smart to shop around, but those savvy shoppers are throwing off your conversion data, making it impossible to get effective, usable feedback.

    In order to keep determined browsers from placing items in their cart, try adding a cost calculator to your site. Be sure to make the cost calculator easily visible so that customers will take advantage of the tool.

    Not Ready to Purchase, Wanted to Save Cart for Later

    This issue can be easily remedied by simply adding a “wish list” option to your site.

    You can also add supplementary features such as abandoned cart emails. If you are able to capture your customer’s email address, automatic emails to remind them of their abandoned cart will help remind them to come back and follow through with their purchase.

    Order Value Not High Enough to Qualify for Free Shipping

    As mentioned above, people love free shipping; however, you have to make free shipping profitable in order to do it. Try the below workflow and see if it works for you:

    1. Find your conversion rates with and without free shipping
    2. Increase the minimum threshold for free shipping, then compare
    3. Test offering free shipping only on select items
    4. Increase prices to compensate for the shipping losses

    You could even try conducting another little experiment—do an unannounced, one-day only “free shipping” promo, then see how your conversion looks compared to an average day’s sales. If you notice a substantial spike in sales, you can infer that many of the people who visit your site in an average day, but elect not to buy anything, do so because of your shipping rates.

    It is not always feasible for businesses to offer free shipping, or even necessarily to reduce shipping costs; however, every little bit helps. Try to make your shipping rates as competitive as possible.

    S&H Costs Listed Too Late During Checkout

    As discussed earlier, unexpected shipping costs were the #1 reason consumers pulled out of ecommerce purchases.

    It’s a smart move not to try and hide your shipping rates from your shoppers by burying them in the checkout process. Your shoppers won’t forget to check the shipping rates, and when they do, it offers another point at which they can back out of the sale.

    Estimated Shipping Time too Long Relative to Cost

    Merchants aren’t the ones who actually deliver the package, so you can’t really make the rules about how long it will take for merchandise to arrive.

    However, you can offer your customers some reassurance by providing tracking for their orders. At least this way, shoppers feel like they have some measure of control over the situation.

    Didn’t Want to Register/Create an Account in Order to Purchase

    Customers additionally cited being prompted to create an account before checking out as serious annoyance. As a merchant, building barriers between yourself and your customers is the last thing you want to do.

    Creating a mandatory account before checkout is extra friction, and removing that source of friction can dramatically boost sales. Fashion retailer Asos decided to do just that, and saw a 50% increase in shoppers making it to the checkout line as a result.

    Reducing friction is a major way to boost conversion, so while we’re on that subject, let’s also talk about mobile usability for a moment.

    It’s no secret that mobile shopping plays a major role in ecommerce at this point, so there is really no excuse not to have a functional mobile site. At the same time, it’s amazing how many merchants either don’t know or simply don’t care how awkward their site is to navigate using a mobile device. Take the time to create a mobile version of your website, and you should quickly see a jump in sales.

    Preferred Payment Option Not Accepted

    You should want to offer as wide a range of different payment methods as possible, especially if those methods are free to sign-up. While this could encourage shoppers to opt for payment method that cost you more money, it’s better than losing out on all of those sales.

    Examples of the different payment options you can consider include:

    • Major credit/debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX, UnionPay and JCB)
    • PayPal
    • Google Checkout
    • Bitcoin
    • Apple Pay/Samsung Pay

Less Friction = Higher Conversion

Merchants will never see shopping cart abandonment totally vanish. However, recouping even a small fraction of the massive amount of money lost by merchants each year to shopping cart abandonment is a huge addition to the bottom line.


Stat Source

Monica Cardone