7 Reasons For Cart Abandonment: How To Minimize Their Effects Now

13 min read
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For every $100 your ecommerce business makes, you’re losing out on $400. The reason? Almost-buyers abandoning their carts. We listed a few of the most common reasons for cart abandonment and how to avoid them.

Depending on your industry, as much as 90% of carts are abandoned. In 2020, the average cart abandonment rate across all sectors was 88.05%. That’s a lot of potential revenue lost. Below, we’ll let you know how you can avoid cart abandonment as well as recover lost carts. But first…

Table of Contents

How to calculate shopping cart abandonment rates?
What are current cart abandonment rates?
Why is shopping cart abandonment a problem for ecommerce businesses?
What common reasons for cart abandonment are there?

1. Trust issues
2. High shipping costs
3. CX and checkout complexity
4. Browsing: the problem of buyer intent
5. Payment options… or lack thereof
6. Pricing
7. Technical problems

What are the best ways to recover abandoned carts?

1. Abandoned cart retargeting
2. Cart recovery emails
3. Cart recovery on Messenger and WhatsApp

How to calculate shopping cart abandonment rates?

Simply put: the shopping cart abandonment rate for an ecommerce site is the number of potential customers that leave your site without buying compared to the total number of initiated shopping carts.

To calculate shopping cart abandonment rates follow this simple formula:

1 - (completed purchases / total initiated carts) x 100 = cart abandonment rate

Example: yesterday, your store saw 100 completed purchases, but 500 total initiated carts:

1 - (100 / 500) x 100 = 80% cart abandonment rate

Of course, you won’t need to calculate this manually. If you’ve properly set up Google Analytics for your ecommerce site, you can automatically generate cart abandonment reports to keep track of your performance.

A-sad-abandoned-cartPhoto by Michal Matlon / Unsplash

What are current cart abandonment rates?

Latest statistics we could find (Statista, March 2020) point to an average abandoned cart rate across all sectors of 88.05%. Yikes! Depending on your industry, this does still vary quite a lot. Here are a few different sectors:

  • Fashion: 90.68%
  • Retail: 84.51%
  • Travel: 79.95%

The differences aren’t that significant - rates are high across all industries. But if you run an online fashion store, you are definitely more likely to drive sales by tackling cart abandonment issues.

Fashion-Ecommerce-CartsSource: gde.design

So why does it matter?

Why is shopping cart abandonment a problem for ecommerce businesses?

Needless to say, people that visit your online store and add products to their cart have high buying intent. Convincing these would-be customers to buy something from you is probably a lot cheaper than acquiring completely new customers.

But there’s more…

Let’s take a benchmark like the average order value (most recent data we could find was for Q2 2019) which stands at $107.36 globally.

Add the average abandonment rate of 88.05% and we can safely say that ecommerce businesses selling at that benchmark are missing out on $791,05 with every sale they make.

If you run an online store and you’re not trying to decrease abandonment rates and actively recovering carts, you’re basically throwing away a lot of cash. The first step to figuring out how to optimize your store is to understand why people abandon carts.

What common reasons for cart abandonment are there?

Here’s a list of some of the most common reasons for cart abandonment, including some pointers on what to do about it:

1. Trust issues

An online store isn’t like its brick-and-mortar counterparts. Shoppers aren’t able to hold physical products in their hands, try them on, or look you in the eye as they hand over their hard-earned cash.

And with 2020’s proliferation of ecommerce businesses, there’s been an equal increase in fraudulent activity. This goes to say: if you can’t get your online store visitors to trust your business, they’re highly likely to abandon their carts before purchasing.

How to solve a lack of trust:

We assume you’re not a dodgy, fraudulent online business, so make sure you don’t come across as one.

How to achieve this?

Start with high-quality images, good copywriting - meaning no spelling/grammatical mistakes - and, of course: lots and lots of social proof.

Loox-photo-review-app-product-reviews-social-proofPhoto reviews as social proof

Displaying social proof on your website is not only a great way to drive sales in general, it also builds trust. The best way to display social proof is to use photo reviews: authentic pictures taken by actual customers.

Another great way to inspire trust is to apply for and display official certifications. There are a lot of different certifications that offer you badges you can add to your store.

Look up your country’s regional certifications, or try getting industry-/product-specific ones, like those Fair Trade USA offers, for instance.

Fair-Trade-Certification-for-fair-trade-productsYou can get certified if you sell fair trade products

And finally: clearly formulate and display your refund and return policies. More than half of all online customers look up these policies before making a purchase.

2. High shipping costs

Unexpected shipping costs are one of the most common reasons for cart abandonment. This has to do with something called price shock: finding out about unexpected costs such as shipping, taxes, extra fees, etc.

A good way to minimize price shock is to display shipping costs on product pages. People generally abandon carts due to unexpected costs when they see them added in the checkout process.

More ways to solve this issue:

What’s the best way to acquire a new customer? Try offering free shipping on their first order. Remember that it costs 5-25x as much to get a new customer than to retain an old one.

Offering free shipping on first orders will allow you to convince a customer to buy from your store. If the customer experience is great, you can turn this first time buyer into a loyal, recurring customer and brand advocate.

And customers seeing free shipping gives them the opposite of price shock.

Pop-Up-Widget-Free-Shipping-OfferTry offering free shipping with ShopPop's Pop-up Widget

3. CX and checkout complexity

Online shoppers - especially on mobile devices - have a very short attention span. You need to make the customer journey, from product discovery to checkout, as smooth and seamless as possible.

If your checkout process is complex or time-consuming, people are going to abandon their carts. A great customer experience should be fast and frictionless. If it’s not, your store is going to lose out on sales.

How to solve customer experience complexity:

Solving a overly complex or time-consuming customer experience or checkout process start with the following steps:

  • Map out your customer journey clearly
  • Analyze your customer data to find out where drop off takes place
  • Hypothesize what could be causing cart abandonment
  • A/B test potential solutions to your hypothesized problems
Customer-Journey-Map-exampleExample of a customer journey map. Source: You Exec

Simplifying your checkout process will surely help minimize your cart abandonment rates. But things like loading speed and availability of payment options should also be taken into account - more on that below.

4. Browsing: the problem of buyer intent

Just like in any brick-and-mortar retail store, some people will just visit your website to browse. These website visitors have low buying intent.

Meaning that, yes, they might add some products to their cart… But as they’re not in ‘buying mode’, they’re way more likely to abandon these.

To solve this problem, start by tracking where your website visitors are coming from. This will give you better insights into which channels generate visitors with high buying intent.

For instance, if you’re seeing paid ad traffic abandon carts at a high rate, maybe you should revisit your ad creatives and targeting, as they’re getting clicks from people with low buying intent.

How to turn browsers into buyers:

Of course, the best way to maximize your revenue is to turn visitors with low buying intent (browsers) into customers. They’ve already found your store, so this might be your one and only shot. And remember how it costs about 5-25x as much to get a new customer than to retain an old one.

Customer-retention-infographicSource: Ocreative

One way to turn browsers into buyers is to incentivize first time purchasing. Offering discounts that only apply to first purchases can give that extra nudge it takes to get people with low buying intent to change their minds.

A good idea is to ask browsers to leave their email address in exchange for a first purchase discount code. They might not have high buying intent, but at least they’re interested in your products. Add them to your newsletter list and they might be interested in future sales, promotions or new product drops.

Better yet, send first purchase discount codes to people directly on Messenger, using a tool like ShopPop’s Pop-up Widget. Use a Messenger flow to send out the discount code, and let people opt in to future updates with the One-time Notification tool.

After all, average open rates for chat messages are 4-5x times higher than those of email. And chat apps like Messenger don’t have promotions or spam folders which your emails might end up in.

5. Payment options… or lack thereof

Your customers all have their favorite way of paying for products and services online. If your customers aren’t presented with their preferred payment method, it’s highly likely they won’t complete their purchase. The more payment options you provide, the more your cart abandonment rates will drop.

It’s also important to have a clear idea of your audience, in order to determine which payment methods to prioritize. European consumers might have very different preferences to US customers. Get your audience insights sorted and refer to this invaluable guide by Adyen on global preferred payment methods around the world.

This shows that, for instance, in Canada, popular payment methods are:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Interac

While the most popular payment methods in Ireland are:

  • Mastercard
  • Visa

Analyze the demographics of your store’s audience, and you’ll know which payment options you should be offering.

SimilarWeb-lets-you-compare-your-own-demographics-stats-with-other-similar-sites-and-competitorsSource: SimilarWeb

How to solve a lack of payment options:

We suggest you offer at least the most popular payment methods for your target audience. But it’s also a good idea to add new ones regularly. After all, payment method innovation is pretty steady, and you don’t want to get left behind!

Things also depend on which ecommerce platform you’re using, of course. If you’re selling on Shopify, for instance, it’s a good idea to add Shop Pay to your store, so you can offer one-tap checkout - remember how simplifying your checkout process minimizes cart abandonment rates?

Other types of payment structures, like paying in installments, or using Klarna’s ‘buy now, pay later’ option can also help solve your payment option problems.

6. Pricing

Remember the classic fairy tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears? The moral of that story applies to porridge as much as it applies to pricing. Like in that fairy tale, you don’t want your pricing to be too high, or too low, but just the right amount.

The thing is: online shoppers are a very picky bunch. At the click of a few buttons, they can and will compare your prices against those of your competitors. Or they might find a special deal elsewhere.

And at the same time, like we mentioned before, shipping rates, import taxes and unforeseen costs can cause price shock and lead to cart abandonment.

How to solve pricing issues:

Here are a few things you should do now to solve some common pricing issues now:

1. Keep your competitor pricing analysis on point. This is essential. When would-be customers start comparing prices, you want them to realize that your store comes out on top. So always keep an eye out for competitors undercutting your pricing.

2. Offer regular discounts and promotions. Happy customers are recurring customers and recurring customers are cheaper than acquiring new ones. Make it a habit to throw in regular discounts and promotions to stimulate brand loyalty. Loyal customers will also pay your regular prices.

3. Set up exit intent pop-ups. This type of pop-up only triggers when store visitors show the intent of leaving your website. This could be scrolling up on a page, or moving their mouse to the back button/address bar. If customers try to leave your site, hit them with a promotional exit intent pop-up and turn them into customers instead.

4. Build email and DM lists for price drops and sale alerts. Successfully built email or DM lists of people interested in your products? Use these to your advantage. People who thought your prices were too high, will definitely buy when prices drop or your sale starts. Make sure to send out these updates to drive sales.

Sale-Starts-Notification-Campaign-visualizedTry our Sale Starts Notification Template

7. Technical problems

Let’s face it: any website or online store needs proper upkeep. If you’ve hired an agency partner to build your store for you, chances are likely they can take care of most of this for you.

But technical problems like a bunch of different apps or plugins slowing down your store can be detrimental to your customer experience. Make sure you’re on top of any technical issues or glitches as they occur.

Optimize your store speed, keep an eye on SEO performance and regularly review your checkout process to make sure everything’s running smoothly. If necessary, hire external help to take care of these things for you.


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What are the best ways to recover abandoned carts?

Solving the above problems will go a long way in reducing your abandoned cart rates. But you might also want to try recovering some of that lost revenue, of course.

Recent studies even show that cart abandonment is just part of the purchase cycle for a new breed of seasoned online shoppers. Which means that people might be quite willing to come back and purchase their abandoned carts anyway.

There are several ways to recover abandoned carts. Here are three of the most common ones:

1. Abandoned cart retargeting

It’s a good idea to run retargeting ads for people who’ve visited your site before. It helps keep your brand top of mind for people that have previously shown interest in your products.

You can even serve ads specifically to people who abandoned their carts. For even more tailored ads, you can use dynamic retargeting, these ads can even show the products they abandoned.

This is a great way to remind people of your brand and the products they were initially planning to buy. One caveat: in 2021, we’re seeing a crackdown on the use of third-party cookies across the entire digital landscape.

Google-plans-to-stop-targeting-ads-on-your-browsing-historyGoogle Plans to stop targeting ads on your browsing history

Which just means you shouldn’t build your entire cart recovery model on this tactic. Making it increasingly more important to rely on first-party data when recovering abandoned carts:

2. Cart recovery emails

Asking shoppers for their email address at the start of the checkout process allows you to send them cart recovery emails after. They’ll also need to consent to receive emails from you, of course.

But if you’ve set this up correctly, you will be able to send them emails reminding them of the products still in their carts. According to Barilliance, sending an abandoned cart email within the first hour can help you recover 20.3% of sales.

Abandoned-cart-recovery-1st-email-conversion-rate-barillianceSending emails in the within an hour has a conversion rate of 20.3%

The most common and efficient frequency for sending cart recovery emails is:

  • After 60 minutes. Just a reminder that the customer didn’t finish their purchase.
  • After 24 hours. Another reminder: the customer might have been busy and missed your first email.
  • After 72 hours. Last shot at convincing them to buy their cart. Good idea to add a small discount (10%?) at this point.

Cart recovery emails have higher open rates in general when compared to other types of marketing emails. These open rates still pale in comparison with the open rates for direct messages on chat apps like Messenger and WhatsApp [Infographic].

3. Cart recovery on Messenger and WhatsApp

Another channel for recovering carts is through chat apps like Messenger and WhatsApp. Abandoned cart recovery on these apps drives more traffic back to your store due to higher open and click-through rates.

Abandoned cart reminders on Messenger also convert 33% more often compared to reminders via email, and take way less time to set up.

If you run a Shopify store, you can install our all-in-one chat marketing app and set up abandoned cart reminders on Messenger within minutes. It’s pretty much a plug-and-play solution.

Automated-cart-recovery-Messenger-Shopify-visualGet started with automated cart recovery on Messenger for Shopify

For WhatsApp, there are a handful of hacky solutions, although none of these work fully automated. This is because permission to use WhatsApp automation for business is only granted on a case by case basis. No need to worry: we’re currently working on a feature that makes this available for our partners, so stay tuned.

As for cart recovery via Messenger: you’re only allowed to send automated messages to people within 24 hours after they last interacted with your business on this chat app. That’s why our cart recovery tool does the following by default:

  • After 1 hour. First reminder is sent out through Messenger linking to the products left in cart.
  • After 23 hours. Second reminder is sent out linking to products left in cart. You can add a discount here to incentivize the purchase.
  • When cart is recovered. An automated message is sent out with the customers receipt.

You can change the times after which the two abandoned cart reminders are sent out, with a maximum of 23 hours after cart abandonment.

Open rates, conversion rates and recovered revenue is tracked in the ShopPop dashboard. Here's what that looks like:

Abandoned-cart-journey-in-ShopPop-dashboard
Abandoned cart journey in ShopPop dashboard

Another massively beneficial thing about using Messenger or other chat apps for cart recovery is that you automatically open a two-way dialogue for support or other questions.

In the same conversation where people receive a receipt, they can follow up with direct questions about their order. To give you an idea of what that looks like, here's a video of a demo store using ShopPop's chat marketing tools:

Disclaimer: currently, some of these features are unavailable in the EU

This is a much more efficient way of dealing with customer support than via email. Besides, an actual conversation with your customers is a great opportunity to engage and build relationships.

It turns business communication into a casual chat, allowing you to build brand trust and get loyal customers that come back for more.

On a final note, we'll leave you with this infographic packed with interesting statistics on:

Ecommerce 2021: The Impact of COVID-19 and the Emergence of New Tech Infographic

ecommerce 2021Infographic designed by Pack & Send


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Jonas van de Poel

Jonas van de Poel

Head of Content and Community at ShopPop. Polyglot and wordsmith armed with fountain pen and ergonomic keyboard. Loves copywriting, marketing, and wearing shades at night.