Abandoned carts - how to increase the chance of completing a transaction?

Anna Meller

bandoned carts are the bane of any e-commerce business but, unfortunately, that situation cannot be completely avoided. In this article, we suggest how to reduce the number of abandoned carts and increase the chances of completing an order.

Everyone loses out on abandoned carts

Shopping cart abandonment occurs when a customer does not complete a transaction even though they have already selected the products they want to buy. The indicator that determines such behaviour is the so-called Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate, i.e. the percentage of potential customers who don’t complete the purchase of the products added to the cart.

Abandoned carts represent a real loss for both sides: the e-commerce merchant and the consumer. The retailer bears the opportunity cost because he has already invested resources to ensure that the customer, in a marketplace full of competitors, finds his shop, searches, and selects the products he is interested in. It is therefore an investment with no financial gain. 

From the customer's point of view, an abandoned shopping cart is also a waste, above all of the time spent browsing the offer and selecting products. It is also often a disappointment because the customer had the urge to buy a product, had already imagined going to a meeting in a new pair of shoes or decorating the house with beautiful accessories, and suddenly something happened to dissuade them from this intention. In this case, it is useful to know what might have discouraged customers and what to do to minimise the risk of abandoned carts in the future. 

Abandoned shopping carts are always a loss

Research shows that 69.82% of virtual carts are abandoned, meaning that for every 10 carts, only three end up completing the transaction (Baymard Institut, 2022). Also, Polish market research shows that carts are abandoned by almost 70% of customers who have previously selected products (Chamber of Electronic Economy, 2021). 

A US study found that the reason for abandoned carts is 58.6% due to the desire to browse the assortment while not being ready to buy (Baymard Institut, 2022). However, suboptimal solutions on the shop side are responsible for a proportion of abandoned carts. In the e-commerce industry, this represents billions of dollars in losses that can be remedied. 

Standards when it comes to finalising purchases have changed in recent times. Consumers expect transparent transaction conditions and variety in terms of delivery and payment. As of 2022, the most popular tool used in e-commerce is the smartphone. Mobile commerce is governed by different rules, enforced by the relatively small screen, which is on average 6x smaller than traditional monitors. It is also limited by the slower processor, which runs 4x slower than on desktops and laptops, forcing optimisation at every step of the shopping process.

Abandoned carts and hidden costs

48% of consumers who show a real willingness to finalise a transaction leave their shopping carts abandoned because of hidden costs that surprise them during the transaction. A further 16% of customers do not finalise the transaction because they are unable to know in advance the total cost of the order. (Baymard Institut, 2022). In both cases, the reason is additional costs related to taxes, customs, and delivery, which have not been adequately communicated beforehand and negatively surprise him or her when the consumer arrives at information about them at later stages of the purchasing process. 

Abandoned shopping carts and the need to create an account

24% of consumers leave abandoned shopping carts because of the need to create an account (Baymard Institut, 2022). Here, the change in habits is heavily influenced by the fatigue of pushiness in getting people to sign up for various subscriptions, as well as the new shopping environment characterised by mobile commerce. We often shop using a smartphone, e.g. on the move, in a queue, or outdoors, i.e. in an environment that provides a lot of stimuli, making it difficult to concentrate. In such an environment, every additional action required to make a purchase increases the risk that it will not happen. 

How to decrease abandoned carts number

Abandoned carts and delivery terms

In the age of same-day express delivery, which more and more e-commerce solutions are offering, the long waiting time for a parcel has become an important factor for shopping cart abandonment. In addition to the delivery time of purchased goods, delivery options also play an important role. 22% of customers choose not to purchase after completing their shopping cart because of excessive delivery times (Baymard Institut, 2022). 43% of consumers consider additional delivery options as the most important factor when deciding to buy online (KPMG, 2017). 71% of Polish customers value the option to deliver goods to work or another designated address and 59% appreciate parcel machine deliveries (Gemius, 2020). In addition, 36% of people do not trust retailers operating exclusively in the digital world and choose to buy from companies with traditional outlets (Ernst&Young, 2022), preferring the BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick up in Store) option, i.e. buy online and pick up in the shop.

How to decrease abandoned carts ratio

Abandoned carts and the path to complete a transaction

17% of consumers leave abandoned shopping carts due to having to go through an overly complicated and overly long path to complete the transaction (Baymard Institut, 2022). In a Polish study, 45% of respondents complain about unfriendly forms and 39% complain about the website not being adapted to mobile shopping (Gemius, 2020). As a rule, the path to finalising a transaction consists of several steps, including calculating the value of the cart with the application of possible promotions, discounts, and discount codes, selecting delivery options, and payment options and filling in contact fields, and agreeing to the shop's policy. The better the user experience is arranged with as few consecutive pages as possible while maintaining optimum readability, the greater the chance of completing the transaction. The most time-consuming step on the path is filling in forms. A small number of fields to be completed in a form increases the likelihood that the customer will complete them. 

Abandoned carts and return policy

A clear procedure for returning purchased goods is a guarantee for customers that the transaction will be safe if the products do not meet their expectations. In Poland, as many as 59% of people are encouraged to purchase by free delivery with a free return option (Gemius, 2020). And 12% of consumers decide to abandon their shopping cart because of an unsatisfactory return policy (Baymard Institut, 2022). 

Abandoned carts vs. payment options

9% of consumers abandon their shopping cart because they cannot find their preferred payment option in the shop (Baymard Institut, 2022). E-commerce has plenty to choose from fast 

transfers, BLIK, regular transfers, cash on delivery, and the increasingly popular deferred payments, which allow the purchase of a product that is paid for at a later date. 84% of shops place logos next to each form of payment, which increases the readability of each option (Twisto, 2022). 

Tip how to decrease abandoned carts ratio

SOS for abandoned carts

What can be done when a customer has left an abandoned shopping cart in our e-store? You can create order lists in your e-commerce implementation that the customer can return to, as suggested by the B2B wholesaler of garden wood and related products Tuindeco International BV. Another way to recover lost sales opportunities is to send an email about an abandoned shopping cart. According to the law, such an email can only be sent to a customer if he or she has given the relevant consent to the processing of his or her data for, among other things, contract performance and direct marketing purposes. Thus, if a customer has previously made a purchase with such consent, he or she may receive an e-mail. On the other hand, if he or she has not completed the transaction and has not given his or her consent, his or her data cannot be processed for contract performance and direct marketing purposes. 

Abandoned shopping carts therefore mean an irreparable loss for e-commerce. There is still a lot of work to be done in this regard. Roughly 4 in 10 respondents start their shopping on their phone and complete the transaction on a computer ("E-commerce Report", Gemius 2022), which shows that mobile-commerce solutions do not fully meet the needs of the modern consumer. The positive news is that in 4 out of 10 cases, we are dealing with a motivated customer who consistently pursues a purchase through different channels.

When it comes to abandoned carts, the most important thing is prevention, i.e. the optimisation of sales processes such as ELASTICITY in the offer of delivery, payment, and finalisation of purchases without creating an account, TRANSPARENCY in the peri-shopping costs and the purchase path, and COMFORT in terms of ordering, delivery, and returns. There is a lot to fight for! Looking at the statistics - on average, 70% of shopping carts are abandoned in a shop and the best e-commerce implementations have only 20% of non-finalized transactions. This means there is a huge potential for increased sales value that can be exploited, by optimising the sales path. 

Are abandoned carts pure evil?

Abandoned carts are a situation that everyone wants to avoid, as they reduce the projected profit of the company. On the other hand, they can hardly be seen only as a lost investment. Even if the process did not result in a purchase, the fact that the customer ended up on your shop's website, viewed the offer, and even selected the products they are interested in shows the strengths of your marketing and the purchase path. Abandoned carts, however, are first and foremost informative. They allow you to see which products your customers are interested in and, more importantly, which elements in the shop bother them. Too expensive or too long delivery, lack of transparency, difficult returns, too few delivery options. Abandoned carts allow you to find out the weaknesses of your shop and, consequently, change it for the better.  

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