6 Ways to Prevent Cart Abandonment

Daniel Ndukwu

Aug 19 2020

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Online shopping is different than shopping in person. You’re unable to try products on, get a feel for the size, smell it, feel the texture, or any of the other things that goes into a shopping experience. There’s a lot of faith that goes into making a purchase online. Ecommerce sites are fighting an uphill battle to create trust, optimize conversions, and grow their topline revenue.

One of the major problems online stores face is cart abandonment. According to Baymard, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%. For every 100 people that initiate a checkout, 70 of them leave without completing it. That’s a problem that needs to be tackled head on. In this guide you’ll learn what causes cart abandonment and the ways to prevent it before it happens.

Additional costs presented at checkout

A customer browses your website, adds items to their cart, and starts the checkout process with a rough estimate of how much money they’ll pay for their items. They may add a little to their mental calculations to account for shipping or taxes but they tend to underestimate. There are also times when shoppers will add items to their cart to figure out how much their total will be.

In either case, when the amount is more than they budgeted or are willing to pay then many of them promptly abandon the cart. The solution is simple. Show all the estimated costs on the product page. When customers aren’t surprised at the final cost, cart abandonment is less likely to happen.

You can do this in a number of ways. If there is a standard sales tax then show it on the product page. Go a step further by asking them to input their zip code so their estimated shipping costs can be calculated automatically. Platforms like Wix allow you to do this out of the box. Be sure to let them know these are estimates and you can’t know the total cost until they finish shopping.

Mandatory account creation

This can be a hurdle because your customers are looking for convenience. That’s one of the major reasons people choose to shop online. They want to find what they’re looking for quickly without leaving the comfort of their home. Forcing them to create a user account adds a layer of friction that may not be necessary for you to deliver your products and acquire a new customer.

Prevent cart abandonment by allowing users to choose a guest checkout option. This way, they’ll be able to complete the purchase without the inherent friction in account creation. Don’t think this will limit your ability to do remarketing through email. You can ask them if they want to get email updates during the checkout flow. This presents an opportunity for continued marketing with as little friction as possible.

Security issues or concerns

Even if you buy thing online often, many people are hesitant to make purchases outside of reputable websites like Amazon and Walmart because of security concerns. The situation has been exacerbated by multiple high-profile data breaches. If your website doesn’t immediately inspire trust in the visitor then they may look around, compare prices, and eventually add items to the cart but not buy.

Many things can contribute to shoppers feeling uncomfortable about an ecommerce site. First, you should always have SSL security implemented on your website. This prevents hackers from intercepting sensitive financial information and imparts a sense of confidence in visitors. Another way to encourage confidence in your brand is to add recognizable trust seals within the checkout flow.

Behind the scenes, you should be on the lookout for fraudulent transactions or consider using a third party platform to help you stay on top of risky transactions. Also read up on PCI compliance guidelines to find best practices for storing customer credit card information and transaction validation procedures.

Technical issues with the online store

When people run into website errors online, they may try again a few times but if the problem persists, they’ll find another brand which sells a similar product. The problem with this form of cart abandonment is that many people won’t reach out to you and let you know. They’ll just leave. Minor errors like formatting of content or images may not have a tangible impact on sales but large issues like broken buttons or a checkout flow that doesn’t work properly will have a major negative impact.

The only way to prevent cart abandonment from this issue is to constantly monitor and test. For example, if completed checkouts suddenly drop, that may be a sign that something has gone wrong and needs to be rectified. You can also use a service that monitors website downtime and get ahead of any issues before they become major problems.

Poor or unfavorable return policy

As mentioned earlier in this guide, it’s not possible for your customers to try on, feel, or otherwise interact with products when purchasing online. This means you should be prepared for a higher return rate because items don’t fit perfectly, aren’t the right texture, or any number of reasons. Unless you’re selling goods like cosmetics and supplements that can’t be opened and returned, there’s no reason to have a strict return policy that makes people think twice before ordering.

You’ll have to use your discretion here based on your business but, if possible, reduce cart abandonment by allowing a long return period. Zappos is famous for its return period of up to one year. If the economics work for you then also consider offering free returns for all purchases. Of course, you’ll want to add caveats so people won’t abuse the privilege.

Limited payment options

The internet is the land of choice and if you’re serious about reducing cart abandonment, one of the most important things you can do is provide multiple payment options. This is based on preferences but also goes back to security. If a customer doesn’t fully trust your brand but likes your products, they may give you a try using a safer payment option like PayPal or Apple Pay. They don’t have to share their card details with you but they can still buy with confidence.

The solution here is simple, support as many payment options as you can. The good thing about this is that it can be simple to integrate payment processors with third party tools. Some of the best website builders have native integrations with different payment processors. For example, Squarespace allows you to integrate with multiple payment processors including Square, Stripe, PayPal, etc. Through those integrations, you’re able to provide a myriad of payment options for your shoppers.


Online shopping is the final frontier but it’s fundamentally different from traditional shopping. It comes with its own set of challenges like the inability to interact with people in real-time and a high rate of cart abandonment.

This short guide has gone through some of the reasons for a high cart abandonment rate online. Of course, there are more but if you tackle these problems then you’ll be ahead of most ecommerce stores. Tackle the ones that will have the greatest positive impact on your business first then move down the list until you’ve implemented a fix for all the issues. Going forward, continue monitoring your cart abandonment rate and make tweaks as needed.

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