Consumers who create an online shopping cart leave without completing the purchase about two-thirds of the time, according to various studies. Here are six steps retailers can take to reduce shopping cart abandonment.

Jarrod Stone, freelance consultant

Jarrod Stone, freelance consultant

According to research from Baymard Institute, the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.57 percent. In other words, less than a third of people who get to the checkout stage on an ecommerce website will complete their order. In many cases, consumers put items into a shopping cart to see the total cost or with the intent of coming back later to complete the purchase. Still, some back out of a transaction for reasons that retailers can address.

By implementing the following six ideas, you can significantly reduce ecommerce cart abandonment:

1. Eliminate or Minimize Extra Costs, and be Upfront About Them

The number one way, by far, to reduce ecommerce cart abandonment is by addressing extra costs. According to Baymard’s study on shopping cart abandonment, 51 percent of people will abandon their shopping cart during checkout because of extra costs (such as shipping, taxes, and fees).

Any form field that you can do without should be eliminated.

Here are some ideas for addressing the issue of extra costs to fix cart abandonment on your ecommerce store:

  • If possible, offer free shipping to as many users of your ecommerce store as you can. If you can’t offer free shipping, ensure that shipping costs are as minimal as they can be.
  • Be direct and upfront about extra fees involved at the beginning of the transaction; suddenly springing extra fees on customers will result in high cart abandonment.
  • Depending on your industry, you can also bundle the cost of shipping into that of the product and offer free shipping. This can make a lot of a difference since as many as 73 percent of people consider free shipping critical to their decision to make a purchase. That said, it is important to ensure you remain competitive while you do this.

2. Reduce The Number of Checkout Form Fields

According to Baymard’s study, making it compulsory to create an account before checkout and having a checkout process that is too long or too complicated are both the second and third reasons for shopping cart abandonment. Combined, they are responsible for 60 percent of shopping cart abandonment.

In fact, research by Formstack that analyzed data from forms created by their millions of users found that:

  • Reducing the number of form fields to 10 or less can boost conversions by 120 percent.
  • Reducing the number of form fields to four or less can boost conversions by 160 percent.

If you want to reduce cart abandonment, it might be a good idea to review your checkout process; review the number of form fields you have and ask yourself if they are all really necessary. Any form field that you can do without should be eliminated.

3. Make Use of Recognized, Secure Trust Seals and Trust Marks

According to IT Governance, approximately 1.7 billion records were leaked in data breaches and cyber attacks in January 2019. Data breaches occur pretty much every day now, and even the biggest brands aren’t exempt. As a result, it is natural that the average web user will be wary before releasing his/her payment details on the Internet.

No matter how much they want what you have to offer, many users will eventually abandon cart due to fears of having their payment and personal information compromised. In fact, according to Baymard’s study, the fifth major reason why people abandon shopping carts is due to an inability to trust a site with their credit card information—approximately 17 percent of people abandon carts purely for this reason.


You can solve this trust problem by using trust seals and trustmarks, however. In fact, a McAfee study found that about 47 percent of shoppers look for trustmarks when shopping on lesser-known websites. For these shoppers, trustmarks like the PayPal logo, Norton SECURE seal, or the McAfee seal were especially found to be most effective.

4. Work on Your Website Speed and Functionality

With rapidly declining attention spans and a rapidly increasing number of options, it is understandable that many users can’t afford to wait forever while trying to pay for a product on your website. A slow and buggy website is one of the key reasons why many people eventually abandon cart. In fact, a particular study found that just a one-second delay in site load time can cost e-commerce sites up to 7 percent in conversions.

You can reduce your cart abandonment rate by working on your website speed. Some effective options include:

  • Use Google PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrics to analyze your website’s speed; besides telling you how fast your website is, these tools will also give you a list of things to fix to make your website faster.
  • Enable caching to ensure visitors to your website have an optimal experience during peak hours as well.
  • Use a CDN [content delivery network] to ensure optimal load of your website and delivery of your content if you’re targeting a global audience.
  • Besides optimizing your site speed, it is also important to optimize the speed of your checkout page.

5. Have a Clear Return Policy

One of the major reasons users abandon cart is due to the absence of a clear return policy. If you have no return policy or fail to clearly communicate your return policy, then expect cart abandonment to be high. In fact, according to a one source 80 percent of shoppers won’t make a purchase on an ecommerce site unless there is a hassle-free return policy.

If you don’t have a return policy, it might be a good idea to work on one. Most importantly, you should make sure that your return policy is clearly communicated and prominently highlighted on your website.


6. Have a Cart Abandonment Follow-Up Email System

If you don’t have a cart abandonment follow-up email system, then you might be losing out when it comes to conversions. Here are some facts based on research on cart abandonment recovery:

  • About 45 percent of follow-up emails in regards to abandoned cart will be opened by consumers.
  • 21 percent of the opens result in a click.
  • 7 percent of cart abandoners who receive follow up emails asking them to complete their order will go ahead to do so.

If you don’t have an email follow-up system designed to target cart abandoners, it might be a good idea to introduce one.

Jarrod Stone is a freelance consultant who specializes in helping web-hosting brands boost their ROI through content marketing.