5 Reasons You Experience Shopping Cart Abandonment and How to Fix it

shopping cart abandonment

The following scenario happens so often – you’ve probably done it yourself. People visit your website, look around, and even put things in their online cart, but they never go to the checkout. We call this shopping cart abandonment and it’s a serious problem for every e-commerce business. Fixing shopping cart abandonment isn’t easy because you need to understand why visitors abandon their carts in order to fix the problem. In this post, we cover the most common reasons why visitors abandon their cart to help you understand your website much better and give you a good idea of what to do to reduce abandonment rates. Every year shopping cart abandonment costs etailers over $4.5 trillion so getting people to complete their orders makes a big difference in your bottom line.

shopping cart abandonment
Image courtesy of Revechat

Why shopping cart abandonment rates are so high

Above, you see an image showing why consumers choose to abandon their shopping carts. In addition, we added a few more reasons for shopping cart abandonment based on our experiences with clients. Fixing these problems offers a huge potential for increasing your revenue with minimal cost. Note that we don’t see shoppers abandoning their carts in the middle of our local grocery store. In fact, shopping cart abandonment is almost entirely a feature in online shopping.

Unexpected costs

People often leave their shopping carts without paying for the items they place in them because the checkout process adds on costs they didn’t expect. The most common added cost is shipping and handling costs, and if they aren’t mentioned anywhere else on your site, they come as a bit of a surprise to unwary buyers. Most online shoppers now expect free shipping even if there’s a required minimum and adding shipping costs at all is the reason for shopping cart abandonment.

Sometimes, shopping costs are so high they make it impossible for visitors to afford your product or make an a competitor’s product more affordable. And, other unexpected costs can also cause abandonment. I recently intended to book a property on Airbnb only to find the added cleaning costs that made it uncompetitive with a hotel.

One way to deal with this reason for abandonment is to make all your costs clear up front rather than springing them on unsuspecting visitors at checkout. Or, add the costs to the price of the item so visitors know exactly what they’re paying upfront.

Payment options aren’t secure

People like shopping online, but they also know that it’s not always safe and that their payment information is vulnerable. This can be very scary, and if you don’t make it clear that you offer secure payments, your potential customers might go to a different website where things are clearer, and they feel safer. You can show how safe your payment methods are by putting an SSL certificate on your website and letting people know what kinds of payments you accept upfront. You could even put customer reviews on the checkout page to give the impression that everything is fine.

Of course, it’s also crucial that your payment options really are secure; so you need to find a payment processor that you can rely on and that your customers trust. Offering PayPal as a payment option is a good idea for unknown websites since customers don’t share their payment information directly with you. Once you do this, and you can prove that everything is good in that regard, you will find more people are willing to buy from you.

Poor website design or performance

A confusing checkout process or one that takes too many clicks deters shopping from completing their order. If people can buy from your site without getting frustrated or confused, they are more likely to come back and may even tell their friends about you. In today’s multi-channel world, consumers expect to shop seamlessly across mobile and desktop for a great customer experience rather than having to start over again when they switch devices.

Many buyers don’t want or need to deal with a website that crashes during the checkout process. When this happens, they are more likely to give up than keep trying, especially if they are worried that their order went through even though the site crashed; they don’t want to pay twice. There are many things that can cause a website to crash, such as bugs in the code, too many people trying to access it at once, hackers trying to get in, and a server that doesn’t have enough power (so there isn’t enough memory), or even just “wrong place, wrong time.”

These things still happen, even in 2022. You can’t stop the last one from happening, but you can work on the other reasons by making your site more secure and switching to a server that can handle your needs. If people can buy from your site without getting frustrated or confused, they are more likely to come back and may even tell their friends about you.

Requiring registration

Getting information about clients is definitely helpful for business planning. The more you know about a customer, the better you can market your products to them and get them to buy from you. A user who registered for an account is more likely to come back to the site and become a loyal shopper because they already set up everything. E-commerce stores try to get this information by making users sign up for an account on their website. However, not everyone wants to share their information with you or take the time to create an account, especially if they’re on a mobile device or anticipate they won’t buy from you again.

As much as gathering information is important in terms of marketing, it’s better to make a sale than not. Therefore, rather than forcing people to make an account and register with you in order to buy something, you should offer a guest checkout. In that way, those who want to register can do so, but those who simply want to buy quickly and be on their way can use the guest option. This means they finish their transaction rather than deciding against it. 

Lack of product information

Some buyers know exactly what they want to buy, while others want to learn more about the products and see how they compare with your competition. They may even have specific needs such as integrating the product with other products they own. When they don’t find enough information about a product, they either decide not to buy it or keep looking for more information.

Price is a big factor in making a purchase decision. Offering clear, accurate pricing makes a big difference in your ultimate conversion rate. Don’t try being coy by hiding your price until visitors have the item in their shopping carts. That’s a sure way to increase shopping cart abandonment. Also, forcing visitors to request a quote makes them unwilling to provide information as they know they possibly subject themselves to hard sales tactics when a representative calls. Even in cases where prices vary depending on what features customers want, providing representative pricing helps convert more visitors. For instance, if you offer plumbing services you can express your price as a per hour fee or, even better, provide average costs for common problems such as fixing a leaky faucet. Or, you can provide fees in tiers so visitors can choose a package of features that fits their needs at a known price. Even if they need more features, they have a price for comparison.

The solution to this is easy; add as much information as possible about your products. When a buyer has all their questions answered, they are much more inclined to make a purchase.

Temporary shopping cart abandonment

In some cases, visitors abandon their shopping carts not because of what you did (or didn’t do) but because they aren’t ready to make a purchase. Maybe they’re waiting for their next paycheck to clear so they have the money to buy your product. Maybe they want to save the product while they continue to compare against other companies. Maybe they just want to continue thinking about the product before making a decision. There’s really nothing you can do in presenting a product to them to convince them to make the purchase now. You can set up a save option rather than having them place the item in their shopping cart but that just segments your abandonment into buckets rather than solving the problem of shopping cart abandonment.

Instead, you need a strategy for dealing with this type of abandonment. Remarketing is one tool you might consider. Remarketing involves more than just abandonment by targeting social ads to folks who visited your website in the past. You can even target specific products in these ads so you reach social users regarding their products of interest rather than generic ads for your brand.

Another option is, that if you have email addresses from a visitor’s login, you can use email as a lead nurturing tool. By sending targeted messages about products left in a user’s cart, you encourage users to return to complete the transaction.


Fixing shopping cart abandonment is a great tool for increasing your revenue with minimal expense. Converting someone who put an item in their cart is MUCH easier and cheaper than finding a new prospective customer. First, you must determine the reason why visitors abandoned their cart, then implement fixes.

Need marketing help to support business growth?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get our FREE guide to creating an awesome website, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.