It should come as no surprise that online shopping has been growing year-on-year for the past decade. It’s not just down to the ever-changing nature of society: digitally-orientated behaviour can also be attributed to the increasing ability, capacity, intelligence, functionality and overall quality of mobile devices and digital platforms.
We now spend more time online than ever before. Electronic devices are such a normalised, almost essential, part of our lives now that many of us are actually more comfortable shopping digitally. Not only that, some of us would, often, prefer to get our clothes, food, and general amenities online as opposed to in a brick-and-mortar store. Of course, this isn’t true for everyone. There are plenty of merits to physical stores and numerous reasons why consumers still prefer to shop offline. That being said, the convenience and comfort of browsing online cannot be denied.
The importance of digital has never been more recognised than it was in 2020 during the beginning of the global pandemic. According to the primary performance indicator for the UK’s online retail market, IMRG, the total online retail sales growth for 2020 was up 36% - outperforming the start-of-year prediction of just 7.8%. Not only this, research shows that online spending represented 21.3% of total retail sales for the year, and Amazon accounted for nearly a third of all e-commerce in the United States.
Of course, this increase in online sales is to be expected - with the pandemic, there was essentially a whole year (and more) where society was basically unable to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. And when we were, we were questioning whether or not it was really safe to do so. It’s also important to factor in things like retail therapy, the noticeable improvement of some brands’ online customer support and, of course, the fact that, for most of us, our mobile devices are always at the end of our fingertips or close to hand at least.
Whilst it’s been proven that online shopping continues to grow, not all shoppers complete their purchases. Some buyers add numerous items to their digital bags and then simply leave, without so much as a goodbye. That’s the phenomenon that we call shopping cart abandonment.
What is shopping cart abandonment?
Shopping cart abandonment is when a website visitor, i.e. a potential customer, adds items to their shopping cart, begins the check-out process and leaves without actually making a purchase. Cart abandonment is one of the key issues fought by digital e-commerce marketers today and is one of the biggest contributors to lost sales in the e-commerce industry.
In 2019, the global cart abandonment rate stood at a massive 84.24%. Of course, shopping cart abandonment rates differ, but it’s an issue that is prevalent across all industries.
Here’s a standard way to calculate shopping cart abandonment:
Though there are many different reasons that contribute to shoppers abandoning their carts, here are 5 of the main culprits that you should be aware of:
- Unexpected costs
For a transaction to be completed in the first place, the buyer must believe that the product is actually worth the price that’s attached. Getting buyers to justify the purchase of a product at all can often be a task in itself.
Source: Baymard Institute
Customers like transparency - especially when interacting with a faceless digital company. Because there is no physical human being present when you’re buying online, instilling trust in customers and prospects is a must. Unexpected costs promote the opposite of trustworthiness - prospective buyers might actually see unexpected fees as a deliberate attempt to keep critical information from them which can instil feelings of resentment.
This means that not only have you lost a sale today, but you’ve also lost credibility and future sales, too.
- Low purchase intent
Not everyone who comes to your site is going to purchase, that’s just how it is. Many digital visitors enjoy browsing or ‘window shopping’ and aren’t necessarily interested in parting with any cash. They might add items to their cart but this could just be them creating a kind of ‘wish list’ - tallying up the items that they like or might purchase in the future (from you or elsewhere).
Some people also shop online as a fun activity or a stress reliever. This is more common than you might think as studies from UX researchers, Baymard Institute, show that 58.6% of US shoppers abandon their carts because they’re simply browsing.
- Complicated website or technical issues
People don’t shop online to seek out complications, find issues and overcome difficulties. They typically go online to find something in particular that they want to buy, for convenience or for a pleasurable experience. This means that if your online store is difficult to navigate, your experience is awkward and/or unhelpful or there are bugs on your site or in-app, you can expect to experience shopping cart abandonment.
Source: Envisage Digital
It’s important that you regularly check how your site appears on different browsers, devices and different internet connections (if possible). Struggling to navigate a website, experiencing a slow load time, payment processing glitches, poor responsiveness or website crashes can wreak havoc on a customer’s experience.
- Security concerns
People often hesitate when sharing their personal information with businesses - understandably - so if your process isn’t crystal clear, your website seems untrustworthy, or if the shopper is made to feel like their personal information is at risk, there’s no chance that they’re going to complete the purchase.
Security concerns typically arise when customers experience a lack of trust badges or don’t see any payment services that they believe are reputable like PayPal, for example.
- Lengthy process
If they have made it to the checkout stage, It’s likely that a shopper has already spent a good amount of time browsing your website and shortlisting items. And if they’ve got to this point in their journey, you don’t want to lose them. Forcing your prospective buyer to create an account when they don’t want to or don’t have time, fill out a complicated form, or provide too much personal information could lead to the buyer losing their patience and questioning whether your product is worth all of this effort.
People have short attention spans and so become frustrated or uninterested when something takes longer than they expect it to. Making the checkout process unambiguous, quick and painless will ensure a customer’s experience is positive and satisfying (and will increase your likelihood of making a sale).
How to combat shopping cart abandonment (7 points)
Tracking, recognising and combatting shopping cart abandonment is important for e-commerce sites because a high abandonment rate could indicate any number of the issues described above, i.e. poor user experience, users not wanting to be forced to create an account, a confusing checkout process, a broken or insufficient sales funnel, and so on.
As there are so many potential causes of cart abandonment; it’s a complex issue to tackle and resolve entirely for every and any kind of business. There are, however, a number of techniques you can utilise to combat shopping cart abandonment:
1. Utilise trust badges
Before anyone is willing to buy from you, they first need to be sure that you’re legitimate. Because it’s not just their money that they are parting with, it’s also their personal information. This means you need to showcase the credibility of your organisation. Only then will the buyer be convinced to go ahead with the purchase.
A trust badge is a badge that you can place on your website that lets visitors know that you are genuine and that any data you share will be secure.
People love a bargain. When I say people I mean everyone. It makes us feel like we’re getting something for nothing, or like there’s an added benefit or some kind of reward that we receive for making a purchase. So offer your shopper free delivery, free returns, discount codes when they subscribe to your newsletter, return to your shop again, or say, 10% off for simply shopping with you.
Source: Envisage Digital
This will not only persuade the customer to complete their transaction but incentives like this also keep shoppers from straying to your competitors.
3. Collect feedback
Fostering communication between yourself and your customer or prospect helps you to realise areas of improvement. Customers could be abandoning their carts based on a faulty feature in the checkout process that you’re not even aware of - this could be an easy fix that, once identified, will reduce the abandonment rate. Creating surveys that centre around abandonment give visitors the opportunity to illustrate their pain points - to describe the exact issues that they experienced personally. You can attain this helpful feedback via tools such as on-page surveys, exit-intent forms and surveys sent out via email.
Survey example question & answers:
You can leverage surveys to gain direct feedback and explore specific reasons for customers dropping off. This avoids any misinterpretation of data. If you allow the survey takers to remain anonymous, you will likely gain more honest feedback and therefore define the areas that need critical improvement. The more information you can garner from those who visit your store and put items in their cart but fail to complete their purchase, the more well equipped you will be in the future to combat this.
4. Streamline the checkout process
It’s important that you streamline the checkout process by eliminating any unnecessary steps and making the process as uncomplicated as possible. Here’s how:
- Ask for minimal details from people. This could include offering a ‘guest checkout’ option
- Include a checkbox that asks if billing and delivery addresses are the same
- Include a progress bar. This leaves no room for confusion and encourages customers or prospective customers to complete their already initiated checkout process
- Display product thumbnails during checkout and order confirmation to assure buyers that they have selected the right products and don’t have to abandon the entire process just to double-check
- Have an omnipresent cart button that is easily accessible and visible throughout the buying process. This will remind buyers that they have shortlisted items
- Have visible and interactive breadcrumbs when going through the buying and checkout process so the shopper can go back and forth if they need to check something - on this note, it’s a good idea to allow your shopper to easily save their cart or save their favoured items
If a shopper has already decided to go onto your website or app, add items into their cart and have made it all the way to the checkout… the last thing you want to do is lose them because of the many hoops you’ve created for them to jump through. This is unnecessary, will annoy the customer and will likely lose you the sale.
5. Be transparent
Don’t include hidden costs that surprise customers. Additional costs might be a deal-breaker for them; they might not have budgeted for a high shipping cost and therefore are unwilling to pay for any of it at all. If you have a threshold for free shipping - tell people. Transparency is also relevant when it comes to delivery (cost and timing). Standard delivery varies depending on products, industries, geographical location and so on. If something is being shipped internationally, for example, free shipping will likely not apply and delivery charges may be higher - and this is something your customers need to know. A lengthy wait period can be the difference between a happy customer who’s keen to complete a purchase and a prospective buyer who wants your product but needs it to arrive by a certain time - and therefore abandons their cart due to this realisation.
Whilst additional costs or shipping periods are to be expected - having them undisclosed up until the very end of the checkout process may also cause shoppers to feel as though they’ve been tricked in some way.
6. Offer live chat support
Most brand websites offer a long list of FAQs that aim to help customers with any issues they have, but sometimes these lists just don’t cut it. And that’s not the only concern - some shoppers don’t want to wade through pages and pages of potential answers if they have a very simple but specific question to ask.
Having the option for real-time resolution will help hesitant buyers along the sales funnel. Without offering this kind of real support, you lose the ability to guide people towards the checkout area and you increase the risk of cart abandonment.
7. Optimise app and website experience
For visitors to make it to the purchasing stage of the sales process, you need to ensure that each and every element they experience is properly and efficiently developed. This means optimised server response time, reduced page load time, and even on-point image size and resolution - and we’re referring to every avenue: desktop and mobile, website and app. Providing a hassle-free end-to-end customer experience reduces the likelihood of frustration which triggers cart abandonment.
Of course, it’s not always your website’s usability, your payment methods, shipping options, etc., that are the problem. Sometimes customers simply aren’t ready to buy.
Actions you need to make:
- Analyse behaviour: tracking and analysing the behaviour of your audience will help you to identify the stages at which customers are failing to purchase. This data will give you insight and allow you to explore and, potentially, discover any leaks in the sales funnel that may be hindering your conversions. Behavioural analysis will also enable you to action market segmentation. With this, you can create highly personalised campaigns that better target your customers and prospects.
- Experiment: plan, act, observe, reflect, and then repeat. There are so many reasons why customers abandon their carts so the more you know, the more prepared you can be. A/B testing is a key aspect of combating shopping cart abandonment - if you experience cart abandonment but fail to make any changes, experiment or explore the reasons why then
nothing will change.
- Create an omnichannel experience: digital is now such a dominant aspect of our everyday lives. And it’s more than just a presence - it’s actually transformative. Consumers interact with brands via a multitude of channels, so integrating all of your channels is so important if you want to be able to provide a personalised, cohesive experience that’s based on their stage in the customer journey - not just the channel that they’re using.
Tools like Hurree can help you to achieve a seamless omnichannel experience; Hurree’s omnichannel marketing software puts marketers in control of their data by unifying the tools they know and love. With Hurree, marketers can create dynamic segments, action multi-channel workflows and analyse the results without ever leaving the platform - saving time and improving customer experiences.
Hurree makes marketing better with one platform so that marketers can focus on the important things: their customers.
Reducing shopping cart abandonment rates is an important goal for e-commerce brands and marketers to have. So take into account the 7 points mentioned above (utilise trust badges, give incentives, collect feedback, streamline the checkout process, be transparent, offer live chat support, optimise app and website experience), as well as the 3 overarching actions, and you will be well on your way to optimising your marketing strategy in order to combat one of the biggest contributors to lost sales in the e-commerce industry: shopping cart abandonment.
Book a free demo today to see how Hurree can help you transform your company reporting and improve your sales & marketing output 💌 Don't hesitate to get in touch via email@example.com if you have any inquiries - we’re happy to chat!