7 Ways to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment on your Ecommerce Store

August 17, 2020
Mike Friedman

Ecommerce store owners are always looking for ways to increase the sales for their online store. Whether you are running your store on Shopify, WooCommerce, or some other platform, reducing the rate of shopping cart abandonment is one of the easiest ways to improve your conversion rate and boost sales without having to find ways to increase traffic or spend more money on marketing. 

There are effective, and often simple, ways to do this.

What exactly is shopping cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is a term used by online retailers to describe when shoppers add items from the store to their virtual shopping cart, but do not complete the purchase. They may even begin the checkout process, but stop somewhere along the way and do not complete the sale.

Fortunately for you, there are some simple things you can do to improve your shopping cart abandonment rate.

Ways to stop shopping cart abandonment

Avoid sticker shock and surprises

A lot of surveys and research have all come to the same conclusion when analyzing the top reason why people abandon their online shopping cart. The number one cause of shopping cart abandonment is unexpected fees when the shopper begins the checkout process.

Someone was shopping around on a site, saw a few things they liked and added them to the shopping cart with a rough idea of what it was going to cost. 

Then they start to check out.

Oh, there is a shipping cost? I didn’t realize that.

Hmmm… and what is this handling fee?

And I forgot about taxes…

Suddenly they are spending a lot more than they had expected to and they leave.

To avoid this make sure any additional fees the shopper may be charged for their order are clearly visible and spelled out to them. 

Shipping can provide a bit of a challenge when it comes to fees if you have different shipping options or different costs for shipping to different areas. However, popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce offer shipping calculators that you can add to your site that will at least estimate these costs for the customer based on your shipping options and policies.

If there are any other types of fees that you charge such as handling or packaging fees, order rush fees, anything at all that increases the price that is advertised on the product page, make sure these are listed on the page.

Should you offer free shipping?

shipping box with the words 'free shipping' on the outside

While on the topic of fees, one question that ecommerce website owners frequently ask is whether or not they should offer free shipping. Every business is different, and this is a question only you can answer. There are a few things you should consider when deciding whether or not to offer free shipping:

Do your margins allow for it? Can you offer free shipping to customers and still be profitable? Competition among shippers has driven shipping costs way down. In most cases, the added sales will make up for the extra expense in shipping you will incur.

What are my competitors doing? If all your major competitors are offering free shipping, it’s going to be hard for you to remain competitive without doing it. 

On the other hand, if none or few of them are offering it, you likely would be fine charging for shipping. However, would offering free shipping give you a competitive advantage in your market space? 

Can I dangle free shipping like a carrot? To ease the hit to your bottom line by providing free shipping, you can use an offer of free shipping to increase your average order size by offering it only if customers spend over a certain dollar amount.

You likely have seen this done pretty frequently. Online stores will advertise free shipping on orders over $100 or some other amount. It’s a great way to encourage your customers to buy more. 

If you are considering this, I have two recommendations for you to take full advantage of this tactic. 

First, make the offer prominent. Do not have it only show up when people already get to the shopping cart to check out. It should be one of the first things people see when they arrive on your website.

Second, be strategic about the price point where free shipping kicks in if you can. If most of your products are in the $40-60 range, and you have a lot of items around $60, do not offer free shipping at $50. People could potentially buy one item and get free shipping.

The idea is to encourage shoppers to buy more than they would have otherwise bought. Instead, consider offering free shipping for orders over $75 or over $100. 

You want your shoppers to always feel like they are close to getting that free shipping, so do not push it all the way up to $150 or $200.

Again, every situation is going to be a little different. Your shipping costs and average product cost are going to determine the best price point for you to choose for the free shipping offer, but it can be a great tool for increasing your average sale.

Competition among shippers has driven shipping costs lower than they have ever been. If you are using a third party order fulfillment company, it can be even cheaper. As one such service, ShipBuddies, points out on their website, because of their shipping volume they can negotiate lower shipping costs for all of their customers.

Streamline your checkout process

I have seen some checkouts that asked for page after page of information in order to finish the transaction. For some lines of business, maybe there is a valid reason that you need to collect that much information in order to complete the sale, but for most there is not.

miniature shopping cart on keyboard with credit card ready for checkout

Get as little information as you possibly need from the buyer to finish the transaction. The more you ask of them, the more likely they are to abandon their cart.

At a bare minimum, you need their name, shipping address, billing address if it is not the same as the shipping address (although some merchants do not require a billing address to process the sale), a form of contact in case there is a problem or question about their order (phone or email address), and their payment information. Anything you are gathering more than that, although it may be beneficial to future marketing efforts, is just increasing the likelihood that they abandon the cart.

Provide guest checkout as an option

Along that same line of thinking, giving buyers the option to checkout as a “guest” versus having to sign up for an account will also reduce cart abandonment. This is a case where perception doesn’t always meet reality. 

The reality is that you likely have to provide the exact same information to sign up for an account as you would to checkout as a guest without the account. Nevertheless, in a shopper’s mind that will feel like an extra step with extra effort needed. They also might be thinking that they just do not want one more account on one more site or be worried that an account means they will see a lot of extra promotional messages in their inbox.

Give your visitors an option to checkout as a guest.

A lot of platforms let you add something like a checkbox at the end of the checkout page that says something along the lines of “Create an account with this information.” Go ahead and use that if you want. It gives them the option to create an account or not after they have already filled out the checkout page and without them having to take any extra steps. 

Remind them of what they are buying

Other than gift buying, people tend to buy either things that they need or things that they want. If they are buying something that they need, they are much less likely to abandon the cart. 

An example of this might be a new water filter for their refrigerator. It’s not so much that they want to buy it, but a couple of times a year, they typically need to be replaced. It’s not an emotional purchase.

When it comes to things they want, like that new black cocktail dress or pair of wireless earbuds, cart abandonment becomes a bit more frequent. If you want to avoid that happening, do not have a plain, cold checkout page. 

Include thumbnail images of what they were buying along the side of the page or somewhere prominent. Remind them of why they were excited about the purchase in the first place. You could even include a few bullet points of significant features of the product. 

Utilize exit-intent popups

Exit-intent popups are a great way to increase your conversions and reduce shopping cart abandonment on your ecommerce site. You can install these popups on any page of your site, including shopping cart and checkout pages.

Exit-intent popups work by detecting when a user tries to leave a page. Their action triggers a popup message to be displayed.

For your online store, you can add this to the checkout process and if someone attempts to abandon their cart, hit them with a popup that encourages them to complete the sale by presenting them with a special offer.

As an example, you could offer them a 15% discount coupon, free shipping, or maybe offer a buy two and get one free type of promotion.

Save the cart

Online shopping has made comparison shopping easier than it has ever been before. If you offer products that can be found elsewhere, you need to be aware of this. 

Many shoppers will visit several different websites and do their comparison shopping in a few minutes. Sometimes, they will close out windows and tabs when they do this. Other shoppers may do this over the course of a few days before making a decision to buy.

Online shopping concept showing virtual cart on mobile phone

That means it is critical that their shopping cart is saved. 

First, this adds convenience for them when they return to your site for another look.

Second, saving the shopping cart allows you to retarget them with ads directed at them about the products they added to their shopping cart.

Depending on which shopping cart platform you are utilizing there are several options available to you to accomplish this. Here are a few examples:

Shopify Professional or Unlimited - This allows you to monitor abandoned carts. You can manually email customers with a link to their abandoned cart or you can set up an automatic email that will go out to them with the link.

Recover Abandoned Cart for WooCommerce - This addon monitors abandoned carts and will automatically send out reminder emails to them that you can configure. The emails can include a link to their abandoned cart.

Bonus tip: Test, test, and test some more

As we wrap up this list, always remember that no two ecommerce stores are identical. What works for one store may, or may not, work for the next store. 

That’s why this last bonus tip might be the most important. Test and experiment to find what works best for your online store and customer base. Do not be afraid to try new things. Even a “failed” experiment can provide you with useful information and data for refining your checkout process.

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