What Is Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate? Definition and Examples


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An abandoned shopping cart in a poorly lit area.


Shopping cart abandonment refers to a situation where a user of an online marketplace or eCommerce website fails to complete the process of an online order. In this scenario, a potential customer may add one or several things to their online cart without actually following through with the purchase or even proceeding to the checkout page. 


Why should this matter to you? Let’s find out. 


What Is Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate?


Shopping cart abandonment rate is an important metric monitored by eCommerce retailers. This metric measures in percentage the number of orders or carts that became successful purchases divided by the number of total shopping carts created. 


Why is it important? 


Well, a high rate of abandonment could be a symptom of other issues with your site or with certain processes. Later on, we will discuss the common reasons for this abandonment.


What Is the Difference Between Shopping Cart Abandonment vs Checkout Abandonment?


A man tapping on a POS.


They both refer to a situation where a customer does not follow-through with a purchase. However, you can differentiate the two by defining when this abandonment occurs: 


  1. Shopping cart abandonment happens when a user adds a product to their online cart but fails to proceed to the checkout process. 


  1. Checkout abandonment happens when a customer begins the checkout process but fails to complete it. For instance, they might add their shipping address but stop during the “Payment Method” part of the process. 


Thus, checkout abandonment occurs during the checkout process and shopping cart abandonment occurs anytime before that happens.


What Are the Most Common Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment?


Complicated Checkout Process


If there are too many steps that don’t make logical sense to the customer, they are more likely to drop the order before completing the purchase. 


Make sure you aren’t asking for too much information all at once. Also, it would help to explicitly state a reason for asking for any personal information so customers can more easily get behind it. 


Lack of Payment Options


Some customers have strong preferences for how they would like to pay for their orders. Be it for reasons of convenience, security, or otherwise, lack of accessibility to multiple methods of payment could deter them from following through. This, in turn, increases your shopping cart abandonment rate. 


Security Concerns 


Online shopping still poses a real risk of fraud. A lot of shoppers are not comfortable handing out their credit card information to just anyone. If they do not recognize your brand, your offered payment options, or have no way to verify your legitimacy via an SSL certificate or any social proof, they will be hesitant to buy from you.


Lack of Competitive Offers 


The convenience of the internet allows shoppers to canvass multiple sites and eCommerce stores for the same product. This means that if a store lacks discounts, special offers, or has unreasonably high pricing, they will lose out to competition that delivers those things. 


Unclear Shipping Costs 


Shopping cart abandonment rates as well as checkout abandonment rates are affected by hidden costs. One of the biggest offenders is shipping. If customers can’t see how much it costs to ship to their area, they will be hesitant to proceed to checkout.


Furthermore, you don’t want potential customers to be blindsided by shipping costs that only appear after entering all their information during checkout. They are not only likely to drop their order but are also likely to refrain from conducting any future business with you. 


Long Delivery Times 


Delivery time expectations are getting shorter and shorter. If a customer needs an item urgently, has the intent to purchase, but they see that the item won’t be delivered on time, they will abandon their order. They will likely proceed to look for the product on a different site that offers shorter delivery times.


Unclear Return and Refund Policies


There are many cases where the product image and the product itself do not match, the product is the wrong color or size, or the product is defective. In such cases, a customer will likely want to return the item and request for a refund. 


If you don’t have a clear or reasonable return and/or refund policy, you will likely lose customers. This can also happen before they even make a purchase at all. Some customers check your policies before paying.


Slow Loading Speeds and Other Site or App Performance Issues


Laggy product pages or product image loading speeds can lose you a customer. Any bugs, glitches, or slow loading speeds while items are in the cart increases the chances the customer will grow impatient and leave the site for one with less issues. In addition, a poor performing site doesn’t inspire confidence about the quality of your service.


What Are the Effects of Shopping Cart Abandonment On My Business?


A man counting coins in one of three piles.


You can expect that a high shopping cart abandonment rate would negatively affect your revenue-earning capabilities. However that is not the only effect. Your shopping cart abandonment rate also affects other key eCommerce metrics.  


Some effects of cart abandonment include:


  • Losses in customer lifetime value and average order value
  • Site dropout due to inventory being held up in carts and customers with purchase intent not following through due to perceived product unavailability 
  • Inaccurate website traffic data due to checkout page anomalies
  • Reduced ad click-through rates
  • Slower site speeds
  • Higher customer acquisition costs
  • Higher retargeting costs


How Can I Fix My Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate?


A shopping cart in a store.


Optimize Your Checkout Experience 


  • Include a Checkout Progress Indicator – If customers see how deep they are in the process, that may incentivize them to follow through with the purchase. 
  • Include Clear Calls to Action – If a potential customer doesn’t know what the next step is, they can’t continue the checkout process. Make sure each step of the checkout flow is intuitive, making no room for confusion. 
  • Give Customers the Option to Review, Edit and Re-confirm Information – Give customers peace of mind by giving them the option to navigate to previous checkout pages or stating that information they input can be edited later. This will decrease the chance of them getting frustrated due to poor user experience and save your shopping cart abandonment rate from shooting up. 


Provide Flexible Payment Options 


Think of it this way: customers are purchasing products from you. Why not make it easier for them to pay you by providing multiple options for them to do so? Some don’t want to enter credit card information or they just want to use a more convenient method. Be it an online payment method like PayPal or COD (cash on delivery), the more methods, the more accessible, the smoother the checkout process.


Showcase Security Seals 


Give customers peace of mind by indicating that you are compliant with state and country privacy and data security regulations. This provides a sense of accountability and will put customers at ease and make them more comfortable to share their information, conduct business, and use their credit cards. 


Provide Live Chat Support


You can significantly lower your shopping cart abandonment rates by offering live support. Customers may have questions about products that may not be explicitly stated on the product pages. Some may be confused about navigating your pages or have product-specific questions. Whatever it may be, having live chat support at their fingertips within minutes can significantly deter drop-offs. 


Offer Special Deals and Discounts 


Stay competitive by offering first-time buyers special discounts. Free shipping vouchers, coupons, and limited time offers will minimize your shopping cart abandonment rate by incentivizing buyers to follow through with purchases.


Offer Free Shipping and Be Transparent with Shipping Costs


Free shipping holds a lot of value when it comes to conversions. If you’re already giving buyers a deal with pricing, free shipping is the unexpected and greatly appreciated cherry on top. 


However, for times where you can’t offer free shipping, make sure the cost of shipping (even just the estimated cost) is indicated on product pages. Make sure also that the real cost is updated immediately after the needed shipping information is added.


Offer Fast Delivery Options 


Whether they are excited, impatient, or in an emergency, if a customer wants it enough, chances are they will pay extra to get their orders delivered faster. 


Improve your Refund/Return Policies


Customers like to have a safety net in case the products they order aren’t what they expected. Most businesses offer 30-day returns. Now, some businesses may say that lenient return policies could lead to abuse. However, this can be avoided by clearly indicating and displaying your return policy and the needed requirements for returns. Treat everything on a case-to-case basis and build trust with your customers. 


The way you treat returns and refunds indicates how you view your customers. Remember it’s more than just making sure they follow through with one purchase. You want to keep them satisfied with a good post-purchase experience too. 


Prominently Display Product Ratings and Reviews 


Customers tend to consider products based on other people’s experience with that product. We know your business offers good products. Make sure your site has a way for customers to share this social proof of the quality of your offerings.


Monitor your Site and Upgrade your Hosting


Keep track of your site’s performance. Monitor loading speeds, uptime, and the like, making sure to upgrade your hosting when needed. Opt for a flexible plan that caters to high volume traffic during busy seasons like the holidays.  


And here’s 8 more cart abandonment recovery strategies to check out as well. You can never have enough ways to lower your cart abandonment, right?!




Shopping cart abandonment rate is a necessary metric to keep an eye on. It can affect your bottom line in multiple ways and lead to loss of revenue. 


When it comes to fixing this issue, you ultimately need to put yourself in customers’ shoes. Try to make an order yourself. See where you can improve with your user interface or processes. What problems do you run into? Are there features that you could include to make the purchase journey easier? Implement solutions as quickly as possible to improve the user experience and minimize cart abandonment.

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Julia Valdez

Julia Valdez is Freelance Writer and Agency Owner. She regularly writes on topics related to Business Finances, Growth, Hiring, Entrepreneurship, and more.

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