Definition: Shopping cart abandonment is any situation where an online buyer has placed items in a website shopping cart but leaves before completing the purchase. Depending on the retailer and their policies, a shopping cart may be considered abandoned anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days after items were placed in the cart.

Online stores can take a number of preventative measures to decrease cart abandonment, but the most proactive way to combat it is with abandoned cart emails.

Why is it important to reduce shopping cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is a major issue facing online retailers, with one study estimating at least two-thirds of shopping carts are abandoned prior to purchase. Cart abandonment should be viewed as low-hanging fruit for online merchants because of the conveyed intent: when shoppers add to cart, it indicates more than passing interest. By focusing on what causes cart abandonment and how to

Why do people abandon shopping carts?

The causes of abandonment are individualized, but research has noted several trends. These are generally considered to be the most common causes of shopping cart abandonment:

  • Surprise costs: So-called "hidden fees" are among the biggest deal breakers for online consumers. They expect the full total to be presented early on, with few fees tacked-on aside from local sales tax.
  • Unnecessary hurdles: Customers expect online shopping to be smooth and easy, and will balk if there are too many stages to the process. This is especially true if registering with the website is a requirement to purchase.
  • Coupon code fields: If the online shopping cart provides an option to input discount codes, many shoppers will go searching for codes and may not come back if they can't find any. It creates the perception of missing out on a deal.
  • Lack of payment options: If a buyer's preferred method of payment isn't available, there's a very high chance they'll abandon the purchase rather than work around the restriction.
  • Technical errors: If the website is having database or SSL problems, most buyers will see that as a big red flag and not continue their purchasing attempt.
  • No local currency conversion: International buyers dislike having to manually convert prices into their local currency, and generally expect websites to handle the calculations for them. Some may also worry about paying higher aggregate prices due to currency exchange rates.
  • Lack of 'wish list' options: Many consumers will treat a shopping cart like a wish list, if the website doesn't offer that specific feature.

How to win back abandoned carts

Up to sixty percent of abandoned shopping carts — and possibly more — are potentially recoverable with the right inducements. Solving for the issues above is a great first step, but there's still work to be done. One of the most effective methods for reducing abandonment is by sending abandoned cart emails, which are automated messages sent out to remind buyers of their impending purchase or to present additional incentives to buy.

Learn how to increase revenue with minimal effort by setting up abandoned cart emails:

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