How to Reduce Cart Abandonment


Cart abandonment is the percentage of visitors that add items to their cart but leave without buying them. Every time a cart is abandoned on your site, you’ve missed an opportunity to make a sale and you’ll be kicking yourself. Here are some reasons for cart abandonment and how you can combat them.

Reason: Calculating shipping costs

Quite a few shoppers who can’t easily find the relevant shipping information will create a cart just to see how much it’s going to cost them. They may also fill their cart with everything they fully intended on buying, only to be put off by a big fat shipping cost tagged on top.

Solution: Give shipping options early doors

The easiest way to reduce cart abandonment for this reason is to make your shipping costs clear on all your product pages. You should also provide different shipping options, such as a higher cost for a quicker delivery, a low-cost standard delivery, and free shipping over a certain amount if you can afford to. If shoppers are only a few pounds shy of this free shipping limit, they will likely purchase an additional product to push them over.


Reason: ‘Sign In/Create New Account’

Remember the feeling of rage when you get this message? It’s incredibly frustrating to go through the entire online shopping process, convince yourself you can afford it, and then click checkout only to be met with a ‘create new account/sign in’ screen to complete the purchase. For some, this is enough of a turn-off to abandon the cart entirely.

Solution: Offer guest checkout

The solution for this one is simple – offer guest checkout. While customers signing up to your site is great for your mailing lists, being forced to make an account really winds people up. You can still offer the option to create an account once the purchase is finished, just make sure it is quick and easy to do.


Reason: Users aren’t clear on whether they’ve successfully added the right items

If all shoppers can see when they add items to their cart is a steadily increasing total cost and no other information, they may well abandon their cart in fear that they haven’t added the right items, or in the right sizes and colours, and starting again might be a bit too much hassle.

Solution: Show a cart summary that is easily accessible before checkout

The best way to overcome this is to have a cart summary that is easy to view at any time before checkout and during the checkout process. You could have the basket constantly visible down one side of the screen with the details, but in the interest of user experience, a better option may be to have a menu that appears when the basket is clicked or hovered over, complete with the items, costs and any size and colour variants that have been selected.


Reason: Checkout forms are too complicated and confusing

Overly complicated and time-consuming checkout forms are a key motive for cart abandonment. Just as with forcing customers to create an account, you shouldn’t be putting barriers in the way of your customer giving you their hard-earned money.

Solution: Simplify them!

There really is no need for your checkout forms to be complicated. Only request the information you absolutely need to take payment and get the items to the customer. It can also be helpful to have a progress bar or stage checker so that customers know how far through the process they are, especially if you are using multiple pages rather than one long scrolling form (which you should be).

Modular checkouts work really well to ensure that customers don’t get overwhelmed at the checkout. Fashion retail giant ASOS does this very well – you can see what each stage of the checkout will be but only one form is visible at any time, meaning you get an overview without too much information at once.

Another great example is the checkout for Roastworks Coffee Co. When we designed their ecommerce site, we wanted a super-simple and accessible modular checkout which displays the full process but only requires you to fill out one section at a time, and the next section expands when you click ‘Next’.


Reason: Users are concerned about payment security

Many people won’t go through with their purchase if they don’t think their payment details will be safe. None of us want to end up on The One Show as a victim of internet fraud!

Solution: Get an SSL certificate

To reduce cart abandonment caused by security concerns, you need an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate authenticates your website, gives you that lusted-after HTTPS, and provides an encrypted connection. This also gives your site that reassuring little green padlock that customers look for when trying to determine if a site is legit.


Reason: Poor returns policy

Many customers will abandon their carts if they come to see that their items can only be returned within a week of receiving them and if they haven’t been removed from the original packaging. Paying for your own returns shipping fees is also a big no-no for most.

Solution: Have a fair, helpful returns policy

To reduce cart abandonment, make sure you have a fair and helpful returns policy. People shopping online don’t have the luxury of trying items on or seeing their quality before buying, so you need to assure them that these items can be returned for a full refund if they don’t meet their requirements (provided they are still in good condition of course) and that they will have enough time to make their decision.


Reason: They got distracted!

It happens to us all. We’re doing a bit of online shopping, but then we get distracted by a phone call or a hilarious video of a singing dog our friend just sent us. Sometimes, the reason is just as simple as the user meant to come back to finish checking out later but they forgot. 

Surf clothing and gear retailer Catch Surf do a great job of the abandoned cart email. If you leave something behind, they’ll send you an email saying “Dude you need this!” which is beautifully designed and accompanied by some very appealing imagery.

Solution: Lure them back

Fear not – there is a very simple solution for those forgetful customers. You can simply set up an automated email for when users add products to their cart but don’t finish checkout. It’s best to make the email engaging and personal on some level, rather than too generic, so that it convinces the person to come back.


If customers are abandoning their carts, it’s usually an indication there’s something on your site that needs improving. Customers value transparency, security and a smooth checkout process, so put the work in for them!

Looking for advice on how to improve your e-commerce site? You’re always welcome to drop us a line.