Top 17 Ways to Reduce and Improve Cart Abandonment Rates

Top 17 Ways to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment in 2023. Best practices to decrease shopping cart abandonment and improve the checkout process.

Most people spend at least some time browsing online with no intention of making a purchase. Digital window shopping, if you will. But when shoppers who are looking to actually shop, adding items they’re interested in to their carts, are leaving without making a purchase—there’s gotta be a reason (or two) why. 

Here we’ll look at cart abandonment, what it is, the average cart abandonment rate (so you can see where you stack up), what causes it, and the top 16 ways how to reduce cart abandonment on your ecommerce site.

What is cart abandonment? 

Cart abandonment is when an online shopper adds items to their cart but leaves the site without making the transaction. As an ecommerce metric, shopping cart abandonment is measured as the percentage of shoppers with items in their carts who leave a site without making a purchase, and, obviously, the lower that number the better. 

The formula: Cart Abandonment Rate = The total number of completed transactions / The total number of transactions initiated.

You might be wondering what looks normal for a shopping cart abandonment rate. The most recent data Baymard Research Institute has studied found that the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.99%. And, it estimates that improved checkout flow and website design could recover $260 billion worth of lost orders in the U.S. That’s a lot of lost revenue left on the table. 


Why do shoppers abandon their carts?

There are many reasons why a customer may abandon their cart. And while the biggest one is that they were just “window shopping” and not ready to make a purchase (58.6%), Baymard has further studied and analyzed the remaining top reasons, outside of casual browsing. 

Here they are in order:  

10 Most Common Causes for Shopping Cart Abandonment (Ranked in Order)

  1. Extra costs are too high (shipping, taxes or fees).
  2. The site wanted me to create an account.
  3. Delivery was too slow.
  4. I didn’t trust the site with my credit card information.
  5. The process was too long or complicated.
  6. I couldn’t see the total order cost up-front/not enough info.
  7. Website crashed or had problems.
  8. Return policy wasn’t good enough.
  9. There weren’t enough payment methods.
  10. The credit card was declined.

Luckily many of these problems can be solved witht the right improvements and cart abandonment rates can be improved. And to Baymard’s point, many simply require changes to the website design and checkout flow. But, there is more ecommerce brands can do to ensure they have the lowest shopping cart abandonment rates possible and are offering the best UX, using the most current tools.

We’ve put together a list of known strategies to help improve cart abandonment rates, plus some new tools and platforms that are proving to be super effective in decreasing shopping cart abandonment. Read on to find out more.

Top 17 Ways to Reduce Cart Abandonment 

1. Shoppable video. 

Shoppable video is when a consumer can click on product tags within video content and either make a purchase directly from there (ideally a one-click purchase) or, be redirected to a brand website to checkout. 

Shoppable video can help reduce cart abandonment rates because having highly interactive content gives shoppers more insight into the products, and boosts confidence before they buy. Confident shoppers are more likely to make a purchase.

One shoppable video idea could be a brand video about a product launch. This longer (5-10 minutes) form video will cover the product’s backstory and features and have clickable links to purchase from within the video. It could be consumed live or pre-recorded.

2. Live 1:1 personal shopping. 

Live 1:1 personal shopping using livestream video is a great way to get customers’ questions answered quickly, shortening research time, and again, boosting confidence before making a purchase. With live personal shopping, customers are connected with a brand’s live associate who helps them shop for products they are viewing online. 

When online customer service can be personalized it not only enhances the shopping experience but makes for more thoughtful purchases, hence the lower instances of shopping cart abandonment. 

With tools like GhostRetail, brand associates can even add items to a customer cart while they are connected with them. This increases average order value (AOV) as well as improves shopping cart abandonment—a huge win-win for any ecommerce brand.

3. Improve your website speed.

It goes without saying that if a shopper gets confused or impatient, they’re more likely to abandon their cart without completing a purchase. Waiting around for a product or checkout page to load can cause increased rates of cart abandonment. And unlike other reasons for abandoned shopping carts on this list, it can be hard to get these cart abandoners back.

It’s a relatively easy fix to improve your website speed. Simply check with your web developer who can do a speed test, then make recommendations on the easiest way to get things moving faster.

4. Shorten your checkout flow.

One metric you should be paying close attention to is the average time it takes a shopper to complete a purchase on your website. Typically, the shorter the better, because it indicates that making a purchase is quick and easy (and that’s the goal).

Most experts recommend no more than 3-5 steps for the entire checkout process. Offering a one-click checkout option or even a one-page checkout can make a huge difference. There are multiple case studies out there that show companies that switched from a multi-page process to a single-page checkout design with impressive results. 

Not sure where to start? Working with an experienced ecommerce web designer will get you on the right path.

5. Send cart abandonment emails.

Shoppers who have logged into their accounts on the website can easily be retargeted with shopping cart abandonment emails. A cart abandonment email uses data collected on the website to specifically call out what was in the cart when it was abandoned, and coax shoppers to reconsider. 

There are a variety of tactics used for these kinds of retargeting email marketing campaigns. A very effective one is to offer a discount on one of the items that were in the cart. Some abandoned cart emails just help the items stay top of mind, banking on the chance that they’ll come to take another look at their shopping carts and make the purchase this time around.

There has already been extensive research on the best times to send an abandoned cart email. The best window of opportunity for cart recovery seems to be one hour after the cart was abandoned.

6. Offer guest checkout. 

A lot of the time cart abandonment is synonymous with checkout abandonment. Your potential customer wants the checkout process to be as quick and smooth as possible. Adding in more steps, like asking a customer to create an account on your ecommerce store, adds friction and complication to the buying process. 

Plus, most people are wary of signing up for even more e-blasts and newsletters that they don’t really want, or, even worse, are suspicious of how you’ll use their data.

Offering a guest checkout option will improve sales and has been proven to reduce shopping cart abandonment. Some sources have shown that smartphone shoppers are 1.2 times as likely to use the guest checkout option than log in with an account and that revenue was 13% higher from these shoppers.

7. Provide multiple delivery options.

This one is pretty simple. Not every customer is in the same situation when it comes to delivery needs. Some may be in a rush to get their product or it may actually be an emergency. Some customers might be happy to wait 8-10 business days for the regular post.

When shoppers are willing to pay for an expedited parcel, or need a fast delivery, and you don’t offer that, they may abandon their cart and look elsewhere. Be sure to provide as many delivery options as possible to save your shopping carts.

8. Be upfront about all costs as early as possible. 

Since the real reason most people abandon their carts is too many extra costs, it’s best to be upfront and clear as possible from the get-go. First, reduce the number of extra costs as much as possible (i.e. can you negotiate a better transaction fee from your ecommerce platform?) and make sure shoppers can see taxes and duties right away, as well as any shipping cost they might incur. 

Giving customers a clear picture of costs beyond what's in their shopping carts from the beginning will lead to more completed transactions and an overall better experience.

9. Provide (Calls-to-Action) CTAs to drive shoppers to their cart.

It’s highly effective to draw customers’ attention to what’s in their carts to make sure they know how easy it is to check out. Shoppers want to know what the next steps are and they want guidance.

Develop effective CTAs to guide shoppers through their entire purchase. Headline-style CTAs are great for this purpose, so draft one-liners like: “We’re ready to send you your stuff! Just let us know where it’s going.”

10. Include User-Generated Content (UGC). 

Who doesn’t love reading a good testimonial or review on the thing they are about to buy? Including high-quality UGC will boost customer confidence.

Highlighting real-life user reviews on the product page gives that extra nudge to make a purchase. Having well thought-out FAQ pages about products is also another great way to fill in the gaps where customers may have doubts or hesitation, leading to less shopping cart abandonment and more sales.

An example could be on a clothing ecommerce site, showing the average star rating alongside the other product information as well as calling out a testimonial like: “Most flattering dress ever. I wear it everywhere!”

11. Highlight security.

Security is one of the most important things to online shoppers. Recent studies have shown that online shoppers are more concerned than ever about becoming a victim of fraud. As soon as they get a bad vibe from a website, they’re gone. So you want to make your customers feel secure from start to finish throughout the checkout process.

The first step is to get an SSL certificate, a tool that encrypts data in transit. This protects your customers from having their data stolen while making a purchase on your website. This is something your web developer can do, plus its now considered an ecommerce standard. 

Another way you can highlight security is to feature any other badges or trust certificates prominently on the page—especially the checkout page. If customers feel that all the proper precautions are being taken they’re feel more comfortable handing over payment and other personal details.

12. Offer the ability to send carts to other people as a wish list. 

This is a good one—get other shoppers involved by offering the ability for people to send their cart as a “wish list” to others. This makes shopping for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays super easy. You will see big names like Amazon using this feature to boost sales.

13. Enable a “Save for Later” button.

While tactics that push shoppers into buying things faster are great, sometimes a more subtle approach can be just as effective. By adding a “save for later” button to your site  it allows the shopper not to feel pressured into a “now or never” kind of situation that can come from adding to cart and being enrolled in the checkout process. When do come back they will have had time to think about the purchase and feel more confident following through.

Logically, this reduces shopping cart abandonment rates because it allows for a new way for the shopper to earmark items they are interested in without having to choose to abandon the cart completely.

14. Make your return policy prominent.

Get the information regarding your return policy out there from the very beginning of the checkout process. Don’t keep shoppers guessing or leave it to the last minute. When customers find out during the last stage of checkout that the return options aren’t quite what they expected, they’re highly likely leave an abandoned cart at that time.

Offering free returns has been proven to improve cart abandonment rates because it feels almost risk-free to make the purchase. But, this can harm revenue overall as it may increase the number of returns. Either way, get strategic about your return policy and have it clearly displayed early in the purchase process to avoid online shopping cart abandonment.

15. Offer multiple payment options. 

As mentioned in the top 10 causes of cart abandonment, not having the right payment option is a major checkout process problem. Not all customers use the same financial platforms and solutions. Some prefer to use a credit card, while others might be looking for Apple Pay or other wallets like Shop Pay, Google Pay, or Amazon Pay. Many people use PayPal or Stripe in order to pay from their bank account. 

Additionally, there are now payment plan options, allowing customers to make several smaller payments over time, with interest. At the end of the day, you need to offer more than one payment method to avoid cart abandonment at checkout and successfully drive a completed purchase.

16. Have a progress indicator visible during the checkout process.

This easy design feature helps manage expectations during the checkout process. Showing the progress—for example, what step of the checkout process the customer is on—helps give them an idea of how long checking out is going to take. 

Shoppers feel more confident in completing the purchase if they know exactly what they’re getting into at the very tip of the checkout process. When choosing a progress indicator design, make sure it groups some steps together, to make the process appear as simple as possible. For example, the steps could read: 1 - Shipping, 2 - Payment 3 - Review & Confirm Order. Clear steps = less abandoned shopping carts.

17. Offer exit intent popups.

One of the best ways to avoid a lost sale? Stop your visitor from leaving your site! Exit intent popups track a customer's behavior and cursor (on desktop) to identify when they're likely to bounce from your site. They present a last ditch offer or reminder of what's in a shopper's cart to encourage them to stay on the site and reconsider their cart. 

There are many exit intent popups solutions out there to make this process simple, but with two caveats. One, make sure your offer is salient. Don't ask your shopper for their email address for a free ebook at this point. Instead, give them a personalized offer based on what's in their cart, or offer a limited time discount. Two, make sure your exit intent popup doesn't distract from your online store UX. People don't love popups, so making them attractive (and easy to exit) can help a shopper pause instead of get frustrated and click out of your site altogether.  

Live video personal shopping proven to increase conversion rates

The outcomes from offering live personal shopping in ecommerce have been promising. Brands investing in these new tools are not only on the cutting edge of UX experience but are seeing a massive jump in conversion rates plus AOV. Specifically, GhostRetail clients have reported metrics of 12x the standard conversion rates and 40% higher AOV. 

Having the help of a live associate makes any customer feel more confident with what’s in their carts and breeze through the checkout process. Having their questions answered quickly and effectively makes for such a better online shopping experience. If you’re interested in experimenting with live video shopping as part of your UX strategy we’d be happy to walk through a demo and answer any questions you may have.

Get in touch with GhostRetail and find out what it’s all about.


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