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The Inconvenient Truth Behind Abandoned Carts: the Human Factor

6 min read
The Inconvenient Truth Behind Abandoned Carts: the Human Factor

Online carts are virtual counterparts of the baskets we have become accustomed to when shopping in traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

There’s one important difference, though—in an online store, you have a lot more opportunity to change your selection. You can remove products anytime, add more items, change their size, capacity, color, etc So what causes customers to stop at some point in the buying process and walk away from the transaction despite its convenience? This question does not have just a single answer as there might countless factors involved. You can, however, highlight the most common difficulties they face.

To understand them, it is necessary to examine in detail the behavior of consumers in a particular store using analytical tools since reasons for abandoning baskets can vary from customer to customer. The study below presents the top 10 reasons why customers (US adults) abandon their shopping carts.

Top 10 reasons why customers (US adults) abandon their shopping carts


The most obvious reason that pushes customers to walk away from transactions that they have started is price. It’s easy for shoppers to place product after product in a cart but when the total price for everything is calculated, it can be far more than they wanted or expected to spend.

The ability to easily compare prices online also has an effect since finding a lower price elsewhere will almost always result in an abandoned cart. It can also happen when other fees for taxes or shipping can drive the total cost beyond what the customer expected.

TIP: It’s important to recognize that customers want to be aware of all costs involved right from the beginning, so make sure that such costs are clearly listed. This kind of approach ensures that there won’t be any unpleasant surprises when it’s time to finalize the transaction, giving shoppers a reason to walk away.

One more thing—put an accent on competitive prices by listing them in carts or feature a countdown to a deadline for free shipping. The number of customers who give up on their order when not offered free shipping grows each year, which only confirms the importance of this option.

Lack of desire to purchase

This problem starts well before the items are even placed in the cart. It is part of the dichotomy of desires that explain the motivations behind online shopping. Customers struggle with making decisions, some of which are functional while others could be described as hedonistic.

Consumers who are driven by hedonistic motivations add products to their carts because they find it pleasurable. Almost sixty percent of online customersclaim they are “just browsing” the store’s offer without an intention to buy. It’s not about a genuine desire to buy the product, but rather a search for inspiration or attractive offers. Such customers abandon carts much more often than those motivated by functional considerations.

TIP: Make your best products and best sellers stand out with mechanisms like “other customers bought” or a “related accessories” lists to spark interest. When all else fails to hold a customer’s interest, use an “exit offer” in the form of a pop-up when they aim to leave the page.

Pop up on the website with discount code

Offering a discount code for use at checkout could be just the right thing to make them stay with you. A more precise analysis of products added to carts can help to craft other promotions to keep the attention of undecided or unconvinced customers. Personalized offers not available to everyone always get better results.

The ordering proces

The next group of problems is associated with the overall process for placing an order, which is often poorly designed from the perspective of user experience (UX). Too many steps in the process or long forms to complete can cause customers to lose patience and not only leave their carts behind but probably not return at all to your store. Nineteen percent of shoppers point to a long ordering process as the main reason they abandon their carts.

It’s important to remember that many shoppers don’t want to set up an account in order to buy something, especially in cases where it’s a one-time purchase. The chances of a cart being abandoned increase even more if customers are unable to make fast and easy payments. If payment methods involve any kind of processing delay that results in purchases being shipped later, you can be sure that customers will look for other options.

TIP: Making the purchasing process as easy as possible should always be your goal. This means leading customers through every stage, from presenting products to making final payments. Every aspect of the design of the store has to be evaluated in these terms.

Pay attention to the visual side

There are always a few things to keep in mind related to the visual appearance of any online store that make it easier to navigate and result in more sales. Among the most important are:

  • Font style and size. For interaction-heavy websites, like an online store, Learn UI Design Blog recommends a 14-16px as an optimal body text size. For mobile pages, the text size should be slightly larger in order to be legible on a smartphone held in a natural distance.
  • Contrast between the text and background. If you have a visual designer on your team, this shouldn’t be a problem, but otherwise dedicated tools can save you time and… abandoned carts. Check out ColorSafe or similar applications.
  • Calls to action. Buttons related to customer selection should stand out from other elements in terms of size or color and draw attention. This helps customers to quickly find what they are looking for and intuitively navigate the site.

Show the progress of the order

Inform customers about the availability of products and make it possible to modify their orders. One element that can help is a clearly marked progress path. Most important of all is not forcing customers to create an account. It’s always better to forgo a marketing contact in exchange for making customers feel more comfortable. The ease of making a purchase is likely to lead to more shopping and registration in the future.

Steps before making purchase in ecommerce shop

Making a payment should be a no-brainer

In the case of payments, it’s best to keep with current trends and implement “must have” features like pay-by-link, BLIK and one-click payment options. If various discount codes are used at checkout, be sure to make it clear what kinds of codes are taken and where they come from. The more questions you answer ahead of time, the less chance there is that some kind of confusion will derail the process before it is completed.

Abandoned carts will always be there

By changing decisions and reversing actions in an e-store, customers’ behavior online differs significantly from brick-and-mortar stores. To maintain their attention and intention to buy, you need to not only take care of more formal aspects of the store, such as design and presentation of the products but also understand what your customers think and why they behave in certain ways.

In the next part of this short blog series, I’ll discuss more technical reasons why visitors abandon their carts instead of becoming your customers. Stay tuned!