10 reasons for e-commerce cart abandonment and what to do about them

By Paazl
October 23, 2018

We’ve all been there. We are shopping online, we add an item to our basket, enter the checkout, but for one reason or another we don’t complete the purchase. E-commerce cart abandonment is a major issue. To reduce the numbers of abandoned carts it makes sense to first understand why customers don’t convert. We have taken the ten most common reasons for e-commerce cart abandonment and found a solution for each. By addressing these issues in your checkout screen, you can recover sales and boost your conversation.

Source: The Baymard Institute

1. Extra costs are too high

Customers love a surprise. But not the kind that hikes up their order total in the checkout screen.

For the European market, additional costs which magically appear in the checkout tend to be delivery related. To get around this you need to be transparent about your delivery costs early on. Ideally costs are stated on product pages, so your customers are aware before they reach the checkout.

In terms of checkouts, the best practice we identified is when brands let their customers choose their delivery options first in the checkout process. If you are going to lose a customer because your delivery costs are too high, it is best to lose them at the beginning of the checkout process. This is because they haven’t been forced through a long checkout process and aren’t left with a negative impression of your brand.

2. The site wanted me to create an account

If your e-commerce website doesn’t have the option to checkout as a guest – and a surprising number don’t – we suggest you make this a priority. Guest checkouts make the purchasing process seem shorter. By forcing your customers to create an account the checkout process seems to go on forever, especially as all the information they need to create an account is the same information that they will be required to input anyway.

Get around this by offering a guest checkout option and then giving your customers the choice to create an account once they have completed their purchase.

3. Too long/complicated checkout process

E-commerce checkouts can seem long because there is a lot of form filling to get through. To make this easier for your customers, automatically fill in areas whenever you can. This most commonly means automatically filling in the delivery and billing address information based on the postcode.

To make your checkout less complicated we recommend that you make it as simple and minimalist as you can. This means lots of white space so your calls to action really stand out.

Finally, we suggest that your e-commerce checkout has some kind of progress indicator so that your customers know what stage they are in the process and how long they have to go.

4. Unable to calculate total order cost

Customers demand transparency. When it comes to the total order cost the best practice that we identified is when the total order follows the customer through the checkout process and adapts depending on the delivery option selected. This ensures that the customer knows their total order amount throughout the process.

BooHoo are completely transparent about the total order cost in the checkout screen. By being upfront about any additional costs and calculating the total for your customers you could reduce your e-commerce cart abandonment rate.

5. Website errors

E-commerce website errors and crashes are major usability issues, so there is no wonder e-commerce cart abandonment goes up if this happens.

Prevent website errors by regularly servicing your website to ensure everything is working as it should. Ensure that you plan ahead if you are expecting major surges in traffic – for example on Black Friday – to prevent your website stopping you from making sales.

6. Trust issues

Customers are getting smarter when it comes to their personal data and if your website doesn’t look secure they will most certainly take their business elsewhere. Most e-commerce websites show themselves to be trustworthy by the displaying trust symbols from recognised security providers. For example ASOS display the Norton security seal in the top right-hand corner of their checkout page.

7. Delivery was too slow

Whether it’s something for an occasion or a last-minute gift purchase, sometimes customers need their item in a hurry. To ensure customers don’t abandon their cart because of slow delivery times, you again need to be transparent with delivery options.

The best practice is to display all the delivery methods on the product pages in addition to in the checkout screen so the customer knows what their options are before they reach the checkout or at the very least the start of the checkout process.

We like how British-fashion brand Boden handle their delivery at the very start of the checkout process before even asking their customers to provide their email address.

8. Returns policy unsatisfactory

67% of online shoppers check the returns policy before making a purchase online (Invesp 2016). So believe it or not your customers are thinking about making a return before they have even made their purchase. This is even higher for the fashion industry where aspects like size, fit and fabric come into play.

Hopefully your brand has an easy returns policy and if you do make sure your customers know about it. Great practice is when brands state their easy returns policy in the checkout screen. This reassures customers that if they need to make a return it will be a piece of cake.

Schuh do just that by stating that they have “Easy 365 Day Returns” in the header of their checkout screen.


9. Not enough payment methods

If your customer’s preferred payment method is unavailable, there isn’t much you can do other than to expand your payment offerings in the future.

The best practice is when their payment options adapt to the country the items are being shipped to. For example, if you are targeting British customers debit and credit card payments are fine. Whereas in the Netherlands the preferred payment method is iDEAL.

If all else fails a universal payment method such as PayPal should be sufficient for the majority of your customers.

10. Credit card is declined

No matter how hard you try you can’t win them all. Some carts are just meant to be abandoned.

In this situation we like systems such as ASOS’s saved items process. If a customer adds an item to their bag and doesn’t complete their purchase within an hour, the item is moved from their bag to their saved items. This means the customer can easily find their items if they return later to complete their purchase.

Looking for more inspiration?

If you enjoyed this blog post on e-commerce cart abandonment, why not check out our blog posts 12 of the best e-commerce websites on the web and 10 precious ways to improve your e-commerce website for more e-commerce checkout optimisation tips? Or download our whitepaper to find out how 25 e-commerce brands fared when we rated them on the quality of their pre-checkout delivery information.

New Call-to-action

More inspiration.