How to reduce eCommerce abandoned carts

No matter what you’re selling online, when it comes to eCommerce websites there’ll always be some percentage of customers who abandon their shopping cart before making the sale.

To classify, an abandoned cart refers to when a customer browses an eCommerce website, adds items to their shopping cart in order to make a purchase, and then suddenly leaves the website without completing the sale.

The reasons for abandoned carts can vary; perhaps the customer changed their mind or they just got distracted with something else – whatever it is, there are always methods for getting them over the line or encourage them to return and complete the purchase later.

We thought it might be beneficial for our readers to break down some of the more common reasons for cart abandonment, and then provide you with some helpful tips to reduce the number of times it happens on your website.

When in the buying process are customers likely to abandon the sale?

Customers can abandon their cart at any stage in the buying process, but the ones you really need to monitor are in the checkout or completion stage. This means that the customer has browsed your website, compared pricing with competitors, found the item they want and have added it to cart – so all that is left is for them to complete the purchase.

By abandoning their cart in the final checkout stages it might become clear the issue at hand, which some of the suggestions below aim to fix.

Why do customers abandon their carts before completing the purchase?

How long is a piece of string? Without asking each and every customer why they abandoned the cart it’s impossible to know exactly what caused it.

The most common reasons are usually to do with second-guessing the purchase, so perhaps the customer wants to think about it a bit more before completing, needing more time to research. Another common reason is general distractions, which means the customer was about to complete the purchase but was interrupted by something – and potentially means they’ll be back at some point to finalise.

How can you reduce the volume of abandoned carts on your website?

While it’s unlikely you will ever eliminate abandoned carts on your website entirely, there are a few little tweaks you can make to the design of your checkout process to reduce the overall rate.

Below we’ve listed just a few ideas to get you started…

Reduce the number of clicks between browse and buy

The fewer clicks it takes to go from “browse to buy” the more likely you are to convert visitors into customers.

There are a number of ways you can reduce the clicks, such as improved search and catalogue structure, ability to create accounts and therefore pre-fill checkout requirements, and also design features such as increasing the size of “Add to Cart” buttons.

Particularly with that last point, there are many cases of online sellers making their “Add to Cart” buttons bigger and brighter to instantly improve conversion rates. This may include the size, the colour, the position and even changing the wording or text.

Be transparent and remove all “hidden costs”

One of the big reasons you may be losing customers is if you’re adding additional costs (even if they’re small) after the customer has decided to buy from you.

It’s important that you’re as open as possible with customers, highlighting any additional costs they may receive (such as shipping or import taxes) and present them with the final price before they commit to purchase.

It’s important that customers feel they can trust you, especially because some people remain hesitant when purchasing online. Plus, the more upfront you are with customers the more likely they return to purchase from you again.

One of the most common additional costs for any eCommerce website will be the shipping. This is why a lot of businesses will offer free shipping because customers can be assured there’s nothing unexpected coming.

If free shipping isn’t something you can offer without losing money on each purchase, then try to find a way you can still sweeten the deal – perhaps offer them free shipping if they spend over a certain amount or allocate particular days.

Entice the customer to come back and complete the sale

While some customers will have abandoned cart because they changed their mind, there are others who may have just been distracted – but still have every intention of completing the purchase.

There are a few methods of encouraging customers to return, but most commonly businesses will send an email alert to remind them there’s still items in the basket.

Other eCommerce websites go a step further and offer customers who abandoned their cart an incentive to get it over the line. This may include a discount off the items in cart or free shipping.

Another indirect method for reminding customers is to setup a remarketing campaign, which means that static ads will appear on other websites the customer visits. By seeing your brand or the product again, it may trigger a reminder to return and complete the purchase.

Most importantly, listen to your customers

Keep in mind that the suggestions above are based on eCommerce websites as a whole. As we all know, every market is different and the needs of customers vary between websites – so what works for most eCommerce websites may not work for you.

Perhaps the best thing for any business owner to do if they are experiencing a high volume of abandoned carts is to ask customers directly. Try offering some kind of incentive (perhaps a discount on their next purchase, or a free item) if customers can complete a survey or even answer questions via phone. This will allow you to understand the buyer’s experience and identify key issues that are causing them to abandon cart before purchase.

Monitor all changes

The main thing to remember is that with any change made to your website or the buyer process, monitor the effects. Keep an eye on your analytics and conversion rates to ensure that changes made are improving the experience, because if they’re not you may need to revert back.

Another method for doing this is A/B split testing, which lets you trial variations of design changes to monitor what works best. If you are planning on re-designing the “Add to Cart” button for example, you could split test the difference between size, colour and placement to ensure you find the perfect balance.

Need some more ideas? Contact us!

If you’re experiencing a high volume of abandoned carts on your website, feel free to give us a call to discuss. We’ll take the time to understand your business, assess your digital assets and offer some suggestions.

About the Author -

With a successful career in web development and digital marketing under his belt, Chris has been a driving force behind major projects for brands including Telstra, Heart Foundation, Laurastar and Noodle Box, Melbourne Mint and more.