What Is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

shopping cart abandonment bleak photo

Losing online customers at the last minute – after they have gone to the trouble of adding items to their shopping basket is certainly the most frustrating thing for e-commerce retailers to endure.

ECommerce site and online retailers spend a huge amount of time focused on getting more customers to their e-commerce website. But what happens when they get there? Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is the skill of improving what happens when someone gets to your website and it covers many different aspects, one of the most important of which is what happens in the shopping cart.

Specifically, the dreaded “shopping cart abandonment” is when someone puts something into their basket on your website, and then fails to proceed to the checkout and in many cases then leaves the website.

How Does Your Shopping Cart Perform?

Every ecommerce retailer has different patterns of shopping cart abandonment because key factors vary from one online business to the next:

1. The technology may be different
2. The set-up of the checkout is different, with different payment methods, words and layouts
3. The customers are different and are buying for different reasons
4. The products are different and require a different psychological purchase process.

Before starting to improve your cart abandonment rate, you first need to work out what’s happening in your checkout. The first and easiest way to do this is to set up a funnel in Google Analytics tracking the progress of your visitors from the basket page through entering delivery and payment information to the order processing point. How you set this up will differ from site to site – so you may need to involve your website builder to get it all in place properly and accurately.

Some e-commerce platforms will give you a “number of baskets created” statistic – this is also very useful when you compare it to your orders in the same time period. Once all this is set up you can keep an eye on your performance from month to month and see if the changes you make are increasing your sales or detracting.

What Are Your Cart Abandonment Issues?

No matter what your statistics say, you may not have as big a problem as you think. Customers use the basket in a number of different ways. A basket abandoned today might not be the lost sale you think it is.

Why Do Online Customers Abandon Their Basket:

1. Buying your product is a household/group decision, they’ve done the initial research and now need everyone else’s opinion before going ahead
2. They had every intention of buying, but the phone rang, or the baby woke up – they’ll be back tomorrow
3. They are using the basket as a wish list and they will buy when they are ready
4. It’s a gift hint to their significant other and the basket will be left open on the tablet screen
5. It wasn’t the right product after all
6. They found it cheaper or with better delivery terms on another e-commerce website
7. They’ve decided to visit the high street and have a look at a real one before coming back to buy it online.

This list could be potentially endless so it’s vitally important to make sure you’re not making the wrong assumptions about the reason the customer has left their basket and your website.

In pretty much almost all of the above cases, it’s well worth giving the customer a friendly reminder or making it easier for them to get on with their order. This involves either making the cart better and more efficient or using marketing to remind them about their potential purchase.

How To Improve Your Shopping Cart

One of the main reasons people abandon carts on a website is because they get stuck, confused or even exasperated trying to use your checkout. If you can make it easier to use, then the abandonment rate will drop accordingly.

It is vital to improve your shopping cart with your target customer in mind at all times. What you need to do is run some user testing; UserTesting.com is a great tool – but better still, invite a few of your customers in and watch them (without helping!) try to complete a purchase. This will certainly suprise you!

Before you do that, take a walk through your own checkout and critically analyse it. Where is it confusing? Is the text up to scratch? Are the navigation buttons clear enough? Is it out of date or inconsistent?

Here’s a list of modifications that may help cart performance – but always test them properly before you make the changes permanent:

1. Remove the rest of the website navigation from the cart so there are no distractions
2. Make the delivery pricing obvious and clear
3. Don’t force account creation or registration
4. Provide multiple payment options – including PayPal, Amazon Pay or bitcoin – whatever is relevant to your customer
5. Use a postcode look-up/address finder solution
6. For mobile checkouts, make sure each text entry box is set up to trigger the correct keyboard (eg entering a phone number – go straight to number keypad)

Using Online Marketing To Win Back Failed Baskets

You can only use online marketing if you have the necessary information and permissions about your customers – don’t forget GDPR! If you don’t have their email address, and they don’t allow cookies to be used, there’s not much you can do other than hope your online marketing and SEO attracts them to come back.

Don’t then think you have to incentivise them to come back – if you look back at the list of abandonment issues, most of them are about timing and confusion. These customers don’t need a discount to get them back, they just need a nudge.

If you have got their email address, you can send them one or more emails to encourage them to come back. Make sure you stop sending reminders if they do buy though! The first email you send is the most powerful. Send it as soon after the cart is abandoned as possible. Include in it as much information about the cart as you can, including of course, the products.

If you are creating a series of basket recovery emails, you may want to test a “your basket will be deleted in 24 hours” – maybe one week after it was left, or longer depending on how long people take to make the purchase decision (you can find that information in Google Analytics).

If you don’t have their email address, you may be able to drop a cookie on them, and then remarket to them using Google, Facebook or another remarketing system. The key restriction here is that you need a minimum number of people in your list before you can activate the marketing, and the sooner the marketing happens the more useful it will be for both of you. A simple place to start is by putting them all in one list and putting a generic brand message in front of them.

ECommerce Design Devon

Whichever of the above options you explore, try to avoid re-inventing the wheel. There are a lot of ECommerce platforms out there that will do a large amount of this for you. The major e-commerce platforms have abandoned basket plug-ins and widgets for you to use, and your email provider may have a templated sequence you can quickly set up, and many remarketing systems have one too. Once you have your reporting set up, look around to see what solutions are easily implementable for you.
Good luck, happy shopping and if you need more advice on eCommerece web design – talk to us. Call Search4local today on 01392 409159 and speak to a member of our Ecommerce team about Shopping Cart Abandonment.


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Shaun Richings