Cart Abandonment: 3 Ways To Save Your Conversion Rates

Woman online shopping on laptop while sitting on a couch.

“Cart abandonment” – two words that give brands nightmares. In a world where every conversion (and failed conversion) can be tracked, dissected, and scrutinized more easily than ever before, the thought of losing a potential sale haunts website managers, digital marketers, and top management everywhere.

Thankfully, we know more about cart abandonment and its causes than we used to. But most importantly, how we can combat it.

In this post, we dive deeper into cart abandonment and some of the ways brands can fight it while ensuring a positive CX in the process.

What does cart abandonment mean?

Cart abandonment, also known as “shopping cart abandonment” and “digital shopping cart abandonment,” occurs when an online shopper has added items to their shopping cart during their session, and prematurely leave the website without making a purchase.

What is the average cart abandonment rate?

You can calculate a website’s cart abandonment rate by dividing the number of “abandoned” carts by the number of total carts that have contained items in a given time period.

Total number of abandoned carts / Total number of initiated carts * 100% = Cart Abandonment Rate

For example, let’s say your website visitors initiated 100 carts this month. If only 40 of these carts have been successfully checked out during this time, then your website’s shopping cart abandonment rate is 60%.

Shopping cart abandonment presents a problem for brands as it can translate to leaving potential money on the table. It results in online vendors’ all-important conversion rates taking a hit, with no assurance that the shopper will come back at a later date. The negative effects of cart abandonment are then amplified when you consider just how often it happens.

Various reasons prevent a universal “average cart abandonment rate” or industry-specific statistics from being readily available – in part because vendors keep these statistics confidential. However, based on an evaluation from multiple cart abandonment studies published over the years, the Baymard Institute reports that:

About 7 in 10 online shoppers abandon their shopping carts.

What causes shopping cart abandonment?

Thinking on your own recent online shopping experiences, why did you leave the site without clicking “Submit Order”? Was it related to pricing? Shipping and delivery issues? Was it something that had to do with the website itself, or something else entirely?

These are all questions e-commerce brands wrestle to understand.

The reasons why visitors abandon their carts can vary from website to website, brand to brand, even industry to industry. The Baymard Institute also delved into the underlying reasons for abandonment. We’ve split the findings of their study into two buckets: purchase roadblocks and e-commerce performance.

Purchase Roadblocks

  • Extra costs too high (shipping, taxes, fees) – 50%
  • I couldn’t see/calculate total order cost up-front – 18%
  • Delivery was too slow – 18%
  • The returns policy wasn’t satisfactory – 10%
  • Not enough payment methods – 6%
  • The credit card was declined – 4%

E-Commerce Performance

  • The site wanted me to create an account – 28%
  • Too long/complicated checkout process – 21%
  • I didn’t trust the site with my card information – 17%
  • Website had errors/crashed – 13%

You might have noticed that the five reasons consumers gave most often for abandoning shopping carts are all in-the-moment concerns that make the consumer hesitate. When this happens, it’s for one of two reasons: they can’t find an answer to their questions, or they need a nudge in the right direction.

Which takes us to our next question…

How can you reduce cart abandonment?

Some things are out of a brand’s control when it comes to why shoppers abandon their carts. However, they can consider a few options to help move online shoppers to take the next step today and understand how they can keep improving the buying experience over the long-term.

Self-service capabilities

Forrester reports that more than half of U.S. adults will abandon their online shopping carts if they can’t find a quick answer to their question. Think of how many sales you could save just by having self-service tools, such as chatbots, tied to a knowledge base available on your website and mobile app.

With more than six in 10 customers preferring digital self-serve options to answer their questions, brands today that explore AI customer service tools for their websites and mobile apps can help deliver on these preferences. Shoppers can quickly alleviate barriers standing in their way of purchasing, while brands can help ensure a positive online shopping experience.

More than 6 in 10 customers prefer digital self-service options to answer their questions, and only escalate to a live agent for more complex inquiries. – American Express

Don’t ask customers to wade through a long list of FAQs to find the one that vaguely applies to their concern. And don’t ask them to figure out the exact right words to use when searching your knowledge base. A smart self-service solution uses natural language processing (NLP) to determine the meaning of a customer’s question and responds with an accurate and relevant response instead of returning a list of topics that correspond to the keywords in their question.

For example, a potential customer concerned about your return policy can ask, “What do I do if I don’t like the color of my sweater?” and receive a response like, “If you aren’t completely satisfied with the product you purchased, you have 90 days to return it, with no questions asked.” Without NLP, the customer would likely see a list of knowledge base topics related to colors and sweaters, which wouldn’t help them overcome their hesitation.

Proactive chat options

A Business Insider report stated that over 60% of abandoned carts aren’t lost forever. It’s estimated that up to three-fourths of the consumers who abandon carts plan to come back later (or go to a brick-and-mortar store) to finish the purchase. With a nudge through email and SMS reminders or through remarketing after the shopper has abandoned their cart, those sales are potentially recoverable.

But what if you could save those sales before they were lost or delayed by addressing consumer hesitation as it occurs? What if you could give the exact nudge each potential customer needed, exactly when they needed it, before they’ve actually abandoned their cart?

That’s what proactive chat does. Forrester defines “proactive chat” as the “triggering of chat invitations based on a predefined set of visitor behaviors.” It uses context like history, current behavior, and cart contents to systematically funnel the highest priority customers to a live agent. Through a personalized conversation, the agent can answer questions, alleviate concerns, and offer incentive discounts to help the customer overcome hesitation and avoid cart abandonment.

A consumer electronics retailer started seeing increased conversion rates when they implemented proactive chat. It reports that over 20% of visitors who have engaged with the company via chat convert to a sale. About one-quarter of them actually end up purchasing additional items during their transaction.

Voice of the customer collection

Behavioral or web analytics data can help you make an educated guess as to why visitors abandoned their carts. However, while this data can help you indicate where the customer dropped off (the What), it doesn’t tell you the most essential part of the story: The Why.

Only shoppers themselves can provide this context through customer feedback – the Voice of the Customer. Since they are going through the actual purchasing process, they can give you the best insights to reduce friction with your shopping cart processes.

There are two crucial times you can prompt visitors for feedback to gain insights to tackle shopping cart abandonment:

During the purchasing process

To avoid interrupting the shopping process, you can use an invitation approach visible to the purchaser but not intrusive to the point of being a nuisance to their experience. Using a comment card – one that is persistent through the online visit that shoppers can select at any point during their session – is a common way to obtain this feedback.

Ask customers only a few short and targeted questions so that they can get back to the purchasing process as soon as possible. Consider also asking for their contact info if they want to be contacted by your customer service team about their experience. Only ask questions that will give you the types of insights you can use to investigate potential pain points. Additional questions should be scrapped.

After the purchasing process

Prompting customers once they’ve completed making a purchase opens the possibility for more in-depth research. It’s important to remember that while a shopper may have purchased during their session, it doesn’t always mean it was a positive experience.

Including a survey on your purchase confirmation page or sending recent purchasers a survey link via email can unearth more insights that can help drive decisions that result in more seamless experiences for future shoppers.

Solutions to help you tackle cart abandonment

Astute offers customer engagement solutions to help you prevent shoppers from abandoning their cart and elevate the online shopping experience in the process. We can help you ensure that shoppers get the answers they need, when they need them, to overcome purchase roadblocks while obtaining insights to help you keep improving the online shopping experience long-term.