According to research published by the behavioral marketing company SaleCycle, 82 percent of online orders in the first half of 2019 were abandoned without being converted into a purchase. Research agency The Baymard Institute, meanwhile, found that the average shopping cart abandonment rate in 2019 was approximately 70 percent. Either way, that’s billions in lost revenue.
No matter what set of numbers you ascribe to, it should be clear that shopping cart abandonment is a significant issue, and one not unique to any one industry. If your organization operates a digital storefront, it’s a problem you’ll have to deal with. The good news is that though the challenge it represents is significant, it is by no means insurmountable.
The first thing you need to understand is why people abandon their carts. There are multiple reasons why someone might navigate away from a storefront after initiating the purchase process. Per research carried out by international delivery organization UPS, these include:
- Delivery costs were higher than expected (41 percent)
- No intention of making a purchase – simply wished to compare prices (29 percent)
- Decided they didn’t actually want the product (29 percent)
- Product was out of stock (29 percent)
- Estimated delivery time was too long (26 percent)
- Needed the product immediately (23 percent)
- Lack of preferred payment method (20 percent)
- Decided to purchase the product on another site (18 percent)
Other reasons a customer might abandon their cart include hidden fees, an overcomplicated checkout process, faulty discount codes, website performance, a poor return policy, declined payment information, and a lack of trust, according to research by The Baymard Institute. There’s also the possibility that a customer simply forgot about their shopping cart. We live in a culture of distraction, after all; it’s not unreasonable that someone making a purchase on a storefront may
As you can see, the potential reasons for shopping cart abandonment are extensive, and not all of them are entirely within your control. You will always have at least a few lost sales, and at least a few abandoned carts.
In addition to offering multiple payment options, not forcing users to create an account, putting a great deal of focus on website security, being transparent with pricing, and ensuring your products are all well-stocked, here are a few data-driven ways you can reduce shopping cart abandonment for your storefront.
Measure Your Cart Abandonment
First, you need to know when, where, and how frequently your audience is abandoning their carts. While there are plenty of eCommerce plugins that help you track abandoned carts, it’s also perfectly reasonable to rely on Google Analytics, as well. To do this, you’ll first need to ensure you have a Google Analytics account associated with your website.
As outlined by Google Support, here’s the process for setting that up:
- Go to google.com/analytics.
- Click on Start for Free.
- Follow the on-screen prompts.
Once you’ve got your Analytics account up and running, the next step is relatively easy. First, log in
- Go to your admin panel, then click on Goals.
- Create a new goal. Call it whatever you please, but it’s going to be tied to completed purchases.
- When prompted to enter the Goal Type, choose URL Destination. Enter the URL of your order confirmation page.
- Check the Use Funnel box. You’ll want to add each step of your purchase process here. I’d advise going through it yourself so you know what to add.
- Hit “Save.” Google Analytics will now automatically calculate your abandonment rate.
- You can break this down by browsers and devices to give you a clearer idea of what might be causing cart abandonment.
With your funnel configured, you can then check Google Analytics’ eCommerce section for a more extensive breakdown. Click on Conversions -> eCommerce -> Shopping Analysis -> Shopping Behavior. This will generate a report showing you how and where people are ditching your sales funnel. And that, in turn, can help you determine where there might be a bottleneck that needs to be addressed.
I’d also recommend using a heatmap or click map plugin in tandem with Analytics to give you an even more complete picture of reasons for abandonment.
Use Abandoned Cart Emails
Not every abandoned cart is retrievable. If someone abandons their cart because of issues with your website or because they weren’t intending on a sale in the first place, then you aren’t likely to recover that purchase. That said, there are certain scenarios in which you may be able to draw customers back in via abandoned cart emails.
- The customer forgot they were making a purchase.
- The shipping costs were too high.
- The checkout process was too confusing.
- A competitor was offering a better price.
In these scenarios, an automated abandoned cart email has the potential to bring people back. To either remind them that they were in the process of buying something or convince them of the value of purchasing from you. To maximize their effectiveness, your emails should hit the following notes, as detailed by email marketing specialist Active Campaign:
- A compelling subject line. Keep it conversational, and make sure it includes all the context the customer may require.
- Something to encourage the customer to come back. This may be a coupon or discount, or simply some related products that might catch their attention.
- A call to action that encourages the customer to finalize their purchase.
- An email body featuring branded, engaging copy.
- Photos and/or information about the abandoned products.
Don’t overdo it here. A single, gentle reminder after a few days is enough. Anything more, and you run the risk of falling into spam territory.
Optimize Your Website
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about some of the performance issues on your website that may contribute to shopping cart abandonment. Generally speaking, you need to make sure every single corner of your site runs smoothly, cutting down on any bottlenecks that may exist. This includes:
- Using a content delivery network to reduce load times.
- Avoiding rich media and script-heavy pages.
- Ensuring your checkout process is streamlined, error-free, and accessible on multiple devices.
- Using caching to reduce load times.
- Reducing redirects.
- Relying on prefetching.
- In some cases, switching to a better web host.
Reclaim Your Lost Sales
In some cases, abandoned shopping carts are inevitable. They’re part of the cost of doing business in the eCommerce space. By optimizing your website, understanding the bottlenecks in your checkout process, and crafting decent abandoned cart emails, you can at least recapture a decent chunk of them as qualified leads.