Tips on Decreasing Cart Abandonment

By Craig Fox, Founder of PinnacleCart
June 27, 2012

Are you experiencing loss of sales due to cart abandonment?  You’re not alone.  In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Invesp, an online shopping cart can expect an abandonment rate of 65.23% and a conversion rate of about 2.13%. Today, let’s focus on some of the top reasons customers abandon purchases and what can be done to bring that abandonment rate down.

1) High Shipping Costs

High shipping costs is the number one reason customers abandon their purchases. On the surface you might think there’s not much you can do to your shopping cart to solve this one; shipping rates are a fixed cost right?  True, but here are a couple ideas to help ease the pain associated with shipping

  •  Offer free shipping on orders over $xx.xx – yep, eat the shipping costs. This might not always seem like the best idea, but if your margins can support it, do it. Customers always love free things and odds are you’ll see your average shopping cart check-out total increase. If you’re really using your head, you’ll offer free shipping on orders slightly above your current average order amount.
  • Bake shipping into the product price – Offer free ground shipping on some (if not all) items in your shopping cart and add the shipping costs into the product price. Of course, this isn’t possible for all ecommerce stores and products, but being as upfront as possible about costs will lower abandonment rates.

2) Not ready to purchase / Want to comparison shop

Customers wanting to shop around and not feeling ready to purchase is the second ranked reason for cart abandonment.  Again, you might think solving this issue is as hard as Chinese arithmetic, but it’s not. People are going to comparison shop so your goal is to keep your store at the top of their mind as they go out and shop around. There are different forms of marketing that can accomplish this goal.  For example, Pinnacle Cart offers a Drift Marketing feature that will contact customers who have abandoned their shopping carts via email. Because you can control the messaging, you can offer an incentive or discount for customers who haven’t completed their purchase within a designated period of time. I also suggest using the Google Adwords retargeting feature to deliver banners throughout their network and bring them back to your store. With this retargeting method, it is very easy to generate a small piece of code that can cookie a user who landed on your checkout page and retarget advertising to them throughout the Google network.

3) High Product Price

High product prices claim up to ¼ of all abandoned shopping carts.  If lowering your prices isn’t an option, you can offer other incentives to encourage customers to complete a purchase.  Examples of successful incentives include offering a gift product for free with their purchase. Everyone loves free and if you experiment a little you’ll find that eating the price on an item that doesn’t cost you much and may increase conversions on high-ticket items.

4) Hidden / misleading shipping costs

No one wants to feel duped by the total price at the end of their shopping cart.  To avoid this, be as upfront about shipping costs as possible.  If they clicked “Checkout”, they have the intent to purchase.  Make sure they don’t abandon their cart from an unexpectedly high total, especially one that’s due to shipping costs.

5) Not offering a ‘Guest’ checkout option

Never force a customer to register unless it is absolutely necessary for your business. Always give them the ability of a quick ‘guest’ checkout, in addition to the option to register for special perks.  If the shopping cart you’re using doesn’t have this feature, find one that does asap!

6) Need too much information

Only collect the information that is necessary to complete the order. By making your checkout process as streamlined as possible, you’ll avoid losing the business of those who aren’t keen on giving up personal information to intrusive forms or lengthy processes.

7) Complex checkout process

Every step you add to the checkout process will increase your abandonment rate. Many different shopping carts out there (Pinnacle Cart included) offer a simple one-page checkout process, so make sure you’re using it. Make it as easy as possible for them to complete the order. Avoid Lightbox or pop-up screens to avoid confusion.  Also, do not promote additional products once they have reached the credit card page. This could cause them to go back to browsing and never complete the sale.  Keep them focused. Once you’ve got them in the closing sales process, there’s no reason to send them off looking at other things.

8) Website too slow

To ensure your website is snappy and quick, check the latency on your shopping cart during your busy hours for response time. If you’re paying $4.95 for your hosting account, odds are the server you’re on is jam packed with other sites or has a sub-par processor. A slow moving site will not only increase abandonment, it will drive people away from your store in a heartbeat.

9) Paying extra for taxes

You can expect that the government wants their piece of the action but if online shoppers are ordering in the USA, they will only be required to pay sales tax if they happen to be ordering from an online company that has a physical location in their same state.  That creates the possibility that only 1 in 50 orders actually have tax associated with them. Here’s an idea. If your margins allow for it and your tax rate is relatively low, why not cover all or part of the tax? The temptation of a NO SALES TAX banner might just be what it takes to reduce cart abandonment.   Just make sure you’re tracking it so you can pay your taxes when the time comes.

So there you have the top reasons that customer satisfaction drops in the shopping cart and causes cart abandonment.  Use the tips to improve the flow of your sales process and you may see an immediate improvement in your sales and revenue!

Guest Blog Author Craig Fox is the founder and Chief Evangelist at PinnacleCart. With over 15 years of online sales and marketing experience, Craig is one of the driving factors behind Pinnacle Cart,  one of the best ecommerce shopping cart solutions on the web.


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  1. Another reason which you did not mention is that often times a retailer wont post the price of the item until it is in the cart. I have seen this more with the big box stores. They say the reason is that the manufacturer won’t allow them to post such low prices. You put it in the cart to comparison shop and then the price is more than you want to pay, so you abandon the cart.

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