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Zyro Glossary eCommerce

What is Cart Abandonment and How Can You Avoid It?

What is cart abandonment?

The term “abandonment” in eCommerce generally refers to when a user/customer leaves a given page before completing a desired action. In effect, it is the inverse of a conversion. 

“Cart abandonment”, then, refers to when a user adds items from a store into their online shopping cart, but then leaves the website without completing their transaction. 

While online retailers will always experience a considerable amount of shopping cart abandonment, keeping it at a relatively low rate should be a focus for optimization. 

A high rate of cart abandonment means that something is stopping your customers from following through with their purchases; this means lost sales. 

Many of the measures you can take to lower your abandonment rate are simple to apply and immediately effective. If you’re not tracking and addressing the causes of your rate, you’re basically just leaving money on the table. 

What is the cart abandonment rate?

Your store’s shopping cart abandonment rate is the percentage of users who start the shopping cart process, but then leave your store before completing a purchase. 

For instance, say you have 200 users who add one or more items to their shopping carts. If only 80 of them end up purchasing the items in their cart, you’ll be left with 120 abandoned carts. 

By dividing the number of abandoned carts by the number of total carts, then multiplying by 100, you’ll come to your overall abandonment rate. 

In this example, that would be (120/200)*100 = 60. This means you have a 60% abandonment rate. 

If you’re utilizing the Google Analytics integration that comes with your Zyro plan, you can track your cart abandonment rate by setting a goal in Analytics. The tool will then calculate the conversion and abandonment rate for you. 

The average cart abandonment rate

The average rate at which carts are abandoned is heavily affected by sector, device, time of year, time of day, and a range of other factors. 

For instance, a meta-analysis of eCommerce data over more than 10 years showed an overall average cart abandonment rate of 69.57%. However, this rate tends to be much higher on Tuesdays, and at its lowest on Saturdays. 

It’s also clear that there is a seasonal influence over cart abandonment rates, with high sales periods like Christmas seeing a significant drop in the rate of abandoned shopping carts. 

In terms of sectors, airlines tend to have among the highest abandonment rates, given that buying flights is a relatively big commitment and customers tend to shop around to compare prices. 

Fast fashion brands tend to have among the lowest shopping cart abandonment rates, thanks to a combination of low-value purchases, cheap or free returns, and deals timed to create pressure to buy. 

Of course, these are only trends and averages. The only abandonment rate that you should really worry about is your own. Start tracking it from the day your store opens, and use it to improve your website’s performance. 

Top factors that make people abandon their carts

The most up to date stats on cart abandonment rates indicate that the 10 biggest reasons shoppers abandon their cart at checkout are:

1. High extra costs 

A massive 50% of shoppers surveyed identified extra, unexpected, or hidden costs as a reason they abandoned their purchase. Shipping, taxes, or other fees added to a total late in the process is a big turn off. 

2. Account creation

When 28% of shoppers are reporting that the need to create an account to complete a purchase makes them abandon their cart, you know that something isn’t working. 

3. Long/complicated checkout process

 A considerable 21% of surveyed shoppers indicated that they had been put off by checkout processes that had too many steps, asked for too much information, took too long to complete, or were otherwise confusing. 

4. Unclear total cost 

Related to unexpected fees and costs, 18% of respondents complained that they were unclear of the actual amount they needed to pay, so instead chose to abandon their order. 

5. Slow delivery 

Shoppers will often only see the estimated delivery time towards the end of the checkout process. A full 18% of those surveyed said that an overly long estimate delivery time was cause to abandon their shop. 

6. Untrustworthy website

When making an online purchase, customers are asked to share sensitive information like their credit card details and address. Seemingly untrustworthy websites stopped 17% of respondents from sharing such information and completing their purchase. 

7. Website error 

Despite being a factor almost entirely in the control of the website owner, 13% of respondents said that crashing websites or other errors were responsible for their cart abandonment. 

8. Returns policy 

While this was only a complaint for 10% of surveyed shoppers, the fact that users are abandoning their carts because of unsatisfactory return terms should be a red flag to retailers. 

9. Payment methods

This point highlights the need to offer choice when it comes to payment options. If 6% of respondents abandon their carts because they couldn’t find a payment method that worked for them, the retailers clearly aren’t offering the right choices. 

10. Card declined 

A small but significant 4% of respondents said their cards being declined led to them abandoning their carts. Though retailers will only be partially responsible for this number, it’s still something to address. 

How to fix cart abandonment

Sell more by reducing cart abandonment

Since your shopping cart abandonment rate is inversely proportional to your conversion rate, fixing what prevents shoppers from completing purchases should directly translate to higher sales. 

Make your eCommerce site faster by reducing load times

While not self-reported by the respondents to the survey mentioned above, it has been shown that user experience is central to influencing abandonment rates, with site loading speed identified as a key factor

Since a 0.5 second delay in load speed leads to an average 20% drop in traffic, with every 100ms (yes, that’s milliseconds) affecting sales by up to 1%, it’s clear that users are put off by slow websites 

To avoid having your site speed increasing your abandonment rates, you should:

  • Keep your pages light on features 
  • Don’t use (too many) redirects 
  • Optimize image sizes
  • Use a content delivery network
  • Choose a streamline template
  • Use reliable, secure hosting

Avoid surprises during checkout

Shoppers hate surprises. Unless you’re suddenly offering them 20% off their purchase price at checkout, chances are unexpected goings-on at when it’s time to pay are going to put people off. 

To ensure no surprises derail purchases, you should:

  • Not require customers to create an account with your website to make a purchase. Include a facility for ‘guest’ purchases.
  • Add fees and taxes into the price of the product or service you’re selling. 
  • Be transparent about the final price the shopper will pay throughout the whole process. 
  • Clearly state shipping costs and times upfront. 

Offer a great return policy

It’s clear that dissatisfaction with return policies is one of the most significant reasons that customers bail on their shopping carts. Luckily, this is also one of the simplest issues to address. 

As a merchant, it’s entirely up to you to set your returns policy, so long as it’s in line with the laws of the counties in which you operate. 

Some features that will make your returns policy include:

  • Free return shipping. Don’t ask your customers to pay to send items back, even if there’s no reason other than taste behind the return. 
  • A reasonable return window. Most consumers know that if they need to return something, they’ll drag their feet on it. Giving a 7-day window to make a return is useless to most people. Consider extending the window as far as possible. 
  • No questions asked. You may accept returns if items have arrived broken or there was some other error with the order. The best retailers, however, will accept returns for any reason. 

Create a seamless user experience

Something the most successful eCommerce retailers understand is that every moment a user interacts with your website is an opportunity to either make a sale or lose them forever. 

The implication is that user experience is at the core of your success or failure. To drive down your abandonment rate, you need to streamline and optimize your UX design

Some simple improvements you can make to your online store’s user experience today include:

  • Keep things simple. Taking a minimalist approach to web design will aid navigation, help with site speed, save on bandwidth and memory, and crucially, keep shoppers engaged. 
  • Let your products do the talking. Sure, visual design is critical to the success of your website, but showy graphics should not come at the expense of sidelining your products.
  • Demonstrate security. Especially when it comes to eCommerce, users want to know your website is safe. An SSL certificate, payment protection, and clear privacy policies show you take security seriously. 
  • Streamline navigation. The more customers have to hunt, and the more clicks it takes to find their desired product or information, the more likely you are to lose them. 
  • Collect data. Use any analytics tools you have at your disposal to identify where users run into issue, and fix them. 
  • Always be updating. Broken links, out of date content, or incorrect listings are a surefire way to lose shoppers’ trust and interest. Regular updates ensure your website is always current and correct. 
  • Include trust signals throughout your site. Include evidence of security, social proof from other shoppers, review, accreditation, and other signs that your site can be trusted. 

Make an irresistible offer that takes advantage of the fear of missing out

The best eCommerce marketers know how to wield FOMO (the fear of missing out) to their benefit. 

Creating the impression, accurately or otherwise, that there is an urgency to make a purchase is an age-old but always effective means to reduce cart abandonment. 

To leverage FOMO in your favor, you can:

  • Display stock levels, e.g. “Only 3 pairs left in stock”. 
  • Run a time-limited, money off promotion. 
  • Run a time-limited, free shipping promotion. 
  • Highlight the fact other shoppers are viewing the same item. 
  • Show shoppers other purchasing opportunities they’ve already missed. 
  • Offer exclusive links or promotional codes. 
  • Leverage social proof by displaying other customers’ shares, likes, and purchases. 

Give as many payment options as possible

Since shoppers themselves have reported in great numbers that the lack of choice of payment options has stopped them from making purchases, it’s an absolute no-brainer to simply improve your payment options. 

Make sure you understand which payment options are popular in the markets you’re targeting, and be sure to offer these at the very least. 

If you build your eCommerce functionality with a platform like Zyro, you’ll have hundreds of payment options available to you. Be sure to feature as many as possible in your store. 

Never limit your customers’ choices unnecessarily. 

Try shopping yourself to find any unforeseen errors to fix

It’s alarming how many eCommerce merchants are unfamiliar with their own front ends and customer experience. 

While you may have planned for every eventuality, and taken all of the advice above, there’s never going to be a better way of testing your UX than simply shopping yourself. 

Get inside the head of a shopper, and navigate through your site as if you intend to buy. When you come across something that doesn’t seem right, or hold you up, make sure you fix it. 

Sell more by recovering abandoned carts

So, you’ve exhausted our advice optimizing your website for sales, and have got your cart abandonment rate down to the lowest possible level. But what about those shoppers who are still leaving their carts?

There’s still an opportunity to recapture sales, even with abandoned carts. 

Based on numerous studies, it has been found that (provided you have captured their email address already) the most effective process to attract customers back to their abandoned carts is to:

  • Send a first email after 1 hour, reminding the customer what items were in their cart. 
  • Send a second email after 24 hours offering them assistance addressing any issues they face. 
  • Send a third email after 72 hours, and offer a discount on the items or shipping. 

In all this messaging, you should try and communicate a sense of urgency, and where possible appeal to social proof. 

If you’ve built your online store with Zyro’s eCommerce+ price plan, automatic abandoned cart recovery will come as part of your store. The system sends emails automatically after a customer put products in their cart.

Written by

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Duncan is obsessed with making website building and eCommerce accessible to everyone. He explains the best tools and the latest digital marketing trends in ways that are clear and engaging. His focus is on supporting the sustainable growth of small to medium-sized enterprises. When not writing, he enjoys deep sea fishing and endurance cycling.

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