3 Big Reasons People Abandon Carts and How To Solve It

Darren Foong
Darren Foong
January 24, 2019
2 min read
3 Big Reasons People Abandon Carts and How To Solve It

In this article

The metric merchants dread seeing going up is 'abandoned cart'. Customers have visited, browsed and navigated all the way to the shopping cart... and no further. Our friends from Textmagic have shared their knowledge of how to address the issue.

The majority of shopping carts don’t live to see life beyond the “Checkout” button.

The stats on cart abandonment rates range, but the figure is almost always between 60-75%. If your e-commerce store is able to recapture even a small fraction of those abandoned carts, there's a lot of potential to boost revenue by a substantial margin.

To do this, however, we first have to analyze why exactly carts are abandoned in the first place. After all, this rarely happens in a physical store; customers don't reach checkout, leave their carts and head for the exit.

So, what happens in the e-commerce environment that makes cart abandonment so appealing? Or, completing checkout so unappealing?

Reasons Why E-commerce Shoppers Abandon Carts

Statista compiled data between 2016 and 2017 on the primary reasons that digital shoppers abandon their carts and found 8 common causes.

abandoned cart

By understanding the reasons why people quit their online shopping experience, we have very actionable information about how to prevent cart abandonment and facilitate more purchases.

We can divide these reasons into three categories:

  1. Shipping related issues
  2. No buying intention
  3. Friction in the buying experience

Let’s explore how we can solve these three major issues to cart abandonment.

Reason #1 - Shipping Related Issues

For the 2018 holiday season, Amazon offered free shipping to all US orders — a luxury usually only reserved for Amazon Prime members. They didn’t do it out of the kindest of their hearts or because they were instilled with the holiday spirit.

They did it for the money.

cart abandonment

How to beat Amazon when it's expected to own 50% of all retail global eCommerce by 2021?

Not only does the allure of free shipping draw in a ton of shoppers and motivate them to complete their purchase, but it also encourages them to spend more because there are no added fees at the end of the checkout to drive that final price up.

Offering free shipping is easily the best way to motivate shoppers to finish their orders and prevent carts from being abandoned.

Unfortunately, it just isn't in the card for a lot of e-commerce websites.

Amazon can stomach the cost because of how much revenue they generate. The $21.7 billion they spent on shipping in 2017 was just a drop in the bucket against their $177.9 billion in total net sales.

So, if you can’t design any free shipping offers to compete with Amazon, then your next option is to reduce your shipping charges as much as you can. You may be able to charge less for shipping by splitting the cost with the consumer. Thus, you take a small profit hit, but you’re not losing business to overly expensive shipping fees.

cart abandonment solution

You also want to eliminate as much of the surprise as possible. This is why a lot of businesses simply offer a flat shipping rate. This means there are no unexpected charges at the end; customers know what to amount to expect.

Another solution is to include a shipping calculator, so shoppers can readily estimate their shipping costs as they shop. Popular e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce and Shopify have these tools available as plugins for business owners to implement.

So if you can't eliminate shipping altogether, at least be transparent about what it's going to cost.

Reason #2 - No Buying Intention

This is an issue that is not exclusive to the online shopping environment. There's plenty of people that enter physical stores with no buying intention; they just want to look. Store owners obsess over the art of converting these browsers into buyers. For e-commerce stores, the same is true.

There are some tactics that online stores can leverage to showcase their customer perks and help entice these customers to buy, whenever they are ready.


Have you ever had a restaurant remember your favorite order? It is a nice feeling, right? It makes you feel like you belong.

Little efforts like that are at the heart of personalized customer experience. Personalization is particularly impactful online, where customers don’t want to deal with irrelevant offers and products. They want their experience to be catered towards their unique preferences.

In fact, an Oracle study of consumer habits found that 65% preferred when businesses created personalized offers for them.

DoggieLoot, an online pet supply store, figured out how to use personalization on its website. The first time a user orders something, they fill out the specifics about their dogs. Moving forward, shoppers get products tailored to their dogs. They don't have to waste their time combing through products they don’t need.


If a customer isn't there to shop, they are there to browse and perform some product research. Facilitate their ability to find the information they're looking for by providing detailed product descriptions.

Look no further than the digital giant Apple when you think of content. The company’s 10-year veteran Wess Wang actually shared his content insights with the Harvard Business Review. But, simply put, Apple’s strategy is to write clearly and simply. He suggests keeping content at a readability score of 80-89 or a 4th grade level.

You can take your content efforts up a step and create blog content that helps consumers better understand the products and services you offer. Creating buying guides and updating customers on the latest product research may provide them with the insights they are looking for.

This strategy may not lead to a sale that day, but visitors will remember the valuable content you provided them with, which may generate a future purchase. Building content is one of the evergreen strategies to drive traffic for eCommerce. The customer experience has proven time and time again to be the number one competitive differentiator in the Digital Age.

tactics to attract customers

Read Also: 10 Tactics to Attract MORE customers to your online store

Reason #3 - Friction In The Buying Experience


Long wait times, confusing store layouts, unhelpful clerks, these are all things that can break a customer’s shopping experience in a real store. We’ve all, at one time or another, reached the breaking point where the item is no longer worth the hassle.

Friction in the shopping/buying experience is arguably the most dangerous of the cart abandonment reasons, even though it may not be as popularly cited as shipping related issues.

The reason being is that it is possible that these shoppers were highly motivated to buy from you, despite any shipping charges. They already did their research and were ready to hit that checkout button, but your clunky experience got in their way.

Now, not only are they not completing their purchase, they are taking that high motivation to buy to one of your competitors.

And, when a potential customer is disenchanted by a poor shopping experience, successfully re-engaging them again is incredibly difficult. Some consumers just won't shop with brands that have wronged them in the past.

A few steps you should take to reduce friction in your online shopping experience are:

  • Remove any type of required account creation process
  • Allow for a diverse range of payment options, particularly services like Amazon Pay that allow checkouts to occur in fewer clicks
  • Ensure pages load quickly, particularly on mobile devices
  • Eliminate unnecessary pages or stops in the buying process
  • Simplify any discount codes or offers, so they don't add hassle


Reducing cart abandonment rates is always going to be a great challenge for your e-commerce business. But, it doesn't have to feel like such an uphill battle. The tips included in this discussion will help your e-commerce store convert more customers.

That said, you should always be thinking of new ways to soften your shipping costs, improve your customer experience and eliminate friction in the buying process.

Thanks to Erin Chantz from Textmagic for this guestpost.

Darren Foong
Darren Foong

Darren is a content/SEO writer and product marketer. He doubled search traffic for the blog and put ReferralCandy on the front page of the Shopify AppStore.

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