How to Keep Online Shoppers from
Abandoning Their Cart


Are your online customers abandoning their online shopping cart before they complete their purchase? If so, you're not alone. Here are several things you can do to reduce lost sales.

Shopping cartAre your online customers abandoning their online shopping cart before they complete their purchase? If so, you're not alone. Abandoned shopping carts are a common problem. According to a 2012 Baymard Institute report, the average reported shopping cart abandonment rate is 65.95%. That means that if your site is typical, almost two thirds of the customers who start to place an order on your site may be leaving before completing their purchase.


The reasons consumers and businesses buyers abandon shopping carts are varied.  High shipping costs and comparison shopping are two common reasons.  In B2B sales, the person who initially looks for a product and puts it in a cart may be researching the cost and other details for their boss.

Other reasons for shopping cart abandonment include the buyer's desire to find more information about a product or to read reviews; a last minute decision to search for coupons; or the site "timing out" (forgetting what was entered in the shopping cart) because the shopper had to answer a phone or got interrupted in some other way.   Shopping carts that force a shopper to register before allowing them to make a purchase, or that are set up in such a way to make it difficult to see what you've put in the cart or find the "checkout" button, will also cause online shoppers to leave without completing their purchase. 

Although some of the factors that cause shoppers to leave your site without completing a purchase are beyond your control, there are a number of steps you can take to lower your shopping cart abandonment rate.  Here are several to consider 

  • Make sure your shopping cart isn't confusing to use. Can customers easily find the add-to-cart button? Can they easily find a way to view their cart when adding multiple items, and how to checkout when they are ready?
  • Don't force customers to register in order to make a purchase. If you do have a registration system as part of the cart, ,be sure there's a way to opt out of registration and still complete the transaction
  • Do offer shoppers a way to save their cart so they can come back to it if they are interrupted or want to leave for some other reason.
  • If practical, offer free shipping or free shipping to one location for purchases over a set dollar amount.
  • If you do charge a shipping and handling fee, keep your fees as low as possible by negotiating discounts on packaging materials, streamlining fulfillment procedures, and using the shipping company with the best rates for the volume of shipping you do and the weight and locations to which you are shipping. 
  • Make it easy for shoppers to estimate the shipping cost might be before they put their order in the shopping cart
  • Post information about expected delivery times. Customers want to know how soon after they place an order their merchandise will ship, and what the expected delivery time will be.
  • Make sure your company name, location, hours of operation, and a telephone number are clearly visible on every page of the site.  Customers who buy online often want to call the company to ask questions or even to make sure the company is "real" before entering credit card information online.
  • Make the phone number you list on  your pages a click-to-call number. That way smart phone users will be able to quickly call you if they want more information or want to place the order over the telephone.
  • Provide multiple payment options. Yes, certain credit cards charge merchants more to process, than others, but by refusing to accept them, you could very well lose the sale and the customer plus any money you spent on advertising to get the customer to find your site.
  • Provide a way for customers to print an order form, submit a purchase order, or mail in a check. This is particularly important if you sell to businesses.


One other tool you should have in your arsenal to save the sale is a newsletter or other way of getting customers to identify themselves and leave contact information so you can follow up with them in the future. The person who leaves your shopping cart today because they are just starting to research their purchase, may be ready to buy tomorrow or next week. An email offering them a discount or other incentive to buy may be all it takes to get the prospect to buy from you.

 Copyright © 2012 Attard Communications, Inc.

May not be copied, reprinted, or reproduced without express permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

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About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter at

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