Managing Abandoned Carts

Abandoned carts are a challenge for ecommerce sites. Learn more here.

If you’re running an e-commerce business then you might be surprised when you check the abandoned cart rate for your site. It’s very common for shoppers to add items to their cart then fail to check out. Cart abandonment happens for many different reasons but understanding these can enable you to find solutions and recover many of the sales.

How Common Are Abandoned Carts?

Online shoppers often add items to their cart without taking the next step. It is estimated that about 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned. It is therefore more common for people to abandon their items than to actually buy them. Cart abandonment rates can be even higher in some sectors, especially when people are looking at more complex, aspirational or expensive purchases.

Although it is very common for online shoppers to abandon their carts that doesn’t mean that you just have to accept it, even if you have a higher than average rate. You can look for reasons why shoppers may be giving up on their purposes and take steps to recover these sales.

Why Do Shoppers Abandon Carts?

The first step to dealing with abandoned carts is to understand why customers aren’t completing their purchases. People can abandon carts for many different reasons. Some of these are unavoidable, but others can be addressed in order to prevent abandonment or to encourage people to complete the sales.

Here are some of the most common reasons why people abandon their carts.

  1. Just Browsing

Lots of people add things to online shopping baskets without any intention of actually buying them. Sometimes they want to save the item for later or put it somewhere it can easily be compared to other items. Sometimes they’re just doing the online version of window shopping. These customers can sometimes be tempted to complete the purchase if you remind them what’s in the basket or send a special offer, but in many cases they never have any intention of completing the purchase.

  1. Problems with Checkout

Sometimes people abandon their carts after entering the checkout process. If this happens a lot then it can be a sign that there is a problem with the process. People might be put off at this stage by:

  • Extra costs such as higher than expected delivery charges
  • Unexpected information, such as long delivery times or issues with the returns policy
  • Needing to register for an account, especially if this takes too long or is too complicated
  • Complex or long checkout process
  • Technical issues or errors with the site
  • Not having the right payment options

Anything that prevents checkout from going smoothly could put off your customers. It’s very easy for people simply to close the site rather than take the time or effort to deal with a time-consuming or confusing process. You can prevent a lot of these losses by ensuring that the checkout process is as quick and easy as possible. You should also ensure that information such as delivery charges and your returns policy are clear before people reach this point. Customers can be more likely to accept a delivery charge when they know what it will be before they see the final total in the basket. It’s often the surprise rather than the cost itself that puts people off. An email reminder can sometimes work with these customers as they may be willing to try again. However, if there are still issues with the checkout process, they are unlikely to complete the purchase and may not return to your website.

  1. Lack of Trust

Trust is essential when you’re asking shoppers to hand over personal information and payment details online. If your site seems unprofessional or suspicious in any way then people are likely to give up their purchases. This could lead to a higher than normal abandonment rate. The only way to address trust issues is to improve your website. You could do this by changing the design or e-commerce tools you’re using, offering different payment options, or making your policies on data security and returns clear.

How to Recover Abandoned Carts

Creating a trustworthy website with an easy to use checkout can help to prevent cart abandonment. However, there will always be people who are shopping around or browsing your products. What can you do to encourage these people to complete the purchases in their abandoned carts? There are three main ways to recover abandoned carts as shown in this table:


Exit Popup Ads


Remind your customer about the items in their cart as they leave the website.
Abandoned Cart Emails or Push Notifications If you have a way to contact the shopper then you can send them a reminder. You can also include a coupon code or special offer – that’s not essential but can help.


Ad Retargeting


Adding a Facebook pixel or Google remarketing widget (RSLA) to your online store enables you to target ads for specific items to the shoppers who abandoned them.


Taking these actions can turn abandoned carts into more sales by reminding customers about the items they were considering or tempting them back to complete the purchase. However it is essential that the entire business is engaged with the process.

Only recently, I had an abandoned cart email which invited me to telephone about the order. You only receive an abandoned cart email when you’ve provided some data – your email address – and set up an account. The abandoned cart email looks like this:



The order I was placing had my billing address and another delivery address – it was a gift. When I was towards the end of the checkout process, I unchecked the ‘delivery address is the same as billing, but there were no option to state the delivery address! I telephoned to explain and was greeted with ‘let’s see where you were going wrong’ – err it wasn’t me, I’ve used websites for a while. Then I was asked (having explained that I received an abandoned cart email) if I had an account… The guy took my details and I was then transferred to another person, who started by asking my details, then asking if I had an account… This person needed to transfer me again, so I abandoned the call and placed the order somewhere else. This is a great example of the web team adding useful content to keep customers, but the in-store team not being involved and failing to understand how their own systems work.

Always ensure everyone is either involved in the process in creating these web reminders – or is aware of what this means. Plus, instead of the call starting negatively (you did something wrong) I would have started the phone call with ‘My name is Annmarie and I will do everything I can to help’ 🙂 It’s about solving issues and helping people in their customer journey.