4 Key Ways to Avoid Cart Abandonment and Increase Sales

Less than 25% of online shoppers who take the first steps toward making a purchase actually go through with said purchase. Unfortunately, you might never hear from the other 75% ever again. Unless you take action.

Matt Duczeminski
July 14 2017

Imagine you’re the owner of a small brick-and-mortar retail store.

A customer comes in, takes their time browsing through the aisles and fills up their shopping cart along the way.

Then – as soon as you start seeing dollar signs – they walk away from their shopping cart, nod politely, and walk out the front door without making a single purchase.

This scenario seems highly unlikely in a physical setting – and it is, for a variety of reasons. For the most part, consumers who invest in the time and energy in actually visiting a brick-and-mortar store generally won’t leave empty-handed.

The same cannot be said for online shoppers. Not by a longshot.

According to data collected by SaleCycle, more than three of every four people who visit an eCommerce site or online shop – and take the time to load up their virtual shopping cart – still leave without making a purchase.

To put this another way, less than 25% of online shoppers that take the first steps toward making a purchase actually go through with said purchase. Unfortunately, you might never hear from the other 75% ever again.

Unless you take action.

We’ll talk you through some strategies for optimizing your customer’s experience at your online store and decreasing the chances they’ll abandon their cart without making a single purchase.

But before we talk about how to make this happen, let’s take a look at some of the main reasons consumers abandon their online shopping carts in the first place.

Why Does Cart Abandonment Occur?

According to data collected by Salecycle, customers abandon their cart for the following reasons:

  • 34% reported they simply weren’t ready to make a purchase
  • 23% discovered a problem with the shipping process or price
  • 18% wanted to compare the advertised price with that of another vendor
  • 15% prefer to make purchases in person
  • 6% did not find a payment option that fit their needs
  • 4% experienced a technical issue during the process

Remember: these statistics refer to consumers who showned enough interest in a company’s products to have gone through almost the entire purchasing process – but backed out at the very last minute.

In other words, it’s not that these individuals don’t want the products being offered; they do. Unfortunately, they were ultimately unwilling (or unable) to finalize the purchase for one reason or another.

4 Key Ways to Avoid Cart Abandonment and Increase Sales

Now that we understand what constitutes cart abandonment and the main reasons it occurs, we’re in a much better position to understand specific actions your company can take during the buyer’s journey to keep your visitors on the path to conversion.

Let’s get started.

#1 Keep Your Customers Informed

If you go back to the list of reasons consumers gave for abandoning their online shopping cart, you might notice that most of them did so because they felt that they didn’t have enough information to move forward.

Some may need additional time to compare prices with a competing company. Others may have discovered hidden fees (usually shipping related) that made them question their commitment. Still some simply “weren’t ready” to make a purchase.

In each of these cases, immediate access to more (and clearer) information could very well have changed the course of the shopper’s path – and ultimately led to a sale rather than cart abandonment.

Think about it:

If your target customers don’t know much about your company or the products and services it offers, giving away their hard-earned money is a gamble.

But your customers don’t want a gamble; they want a sure thing.

For each and every product you sell or service you offer, make sure your customers understand:

  • Exactly what it is and what it does (features)
  • Exactly what your customer will be able to do with it (benefits)

You can supplement this basic information on your website with a variety of content, such as blog posts, instructional pamphlets, how-to videos, and customer success stories. In doing so, you’ll keep your audience informed on how to get the best use out of your products or services, as well as what they can expect along the way.

Another point to consider is that it’s incredibly easy to shop around online and find a better product or a better price. But doing so requires the shopper to navigate away from your website for a moment (at the very least). Even if they don’t find what they’re looking for elsewhere, you may have already lost them once they left your site.

If you provide all of the information they’re looking for – both about your product and your competitors’ – they won’t need to leave your site in the first place.

Many companies create side-by-side comparisons of their product’s features versus their competitor’s products. Not only does this keep shoppers from leaving the company’s site, but it also showcases special product features the rest of the industry lacks.

Speaking of industry standards, you definitely want your prospective customers to know if your company has earned certain certificates or won any awards in the recent past. Your audience might not even wish to check out the competition if there is proof of quality.

One last, and very important, piece of information you want to provide your potential customers is the complete cost of your products or services.

Think back to your own experiences shopping online: how many times have you abandoned a virtual cart full of products due to high shipping costs, hidden fees, or other cost-related discrepancies?

Your customers want to know what they’re paying for. And they also want to know exactly how much it’ll cost them.

Be honest. Let them know upfront how much things like shipping, tax, and signup fees cost. It will alleviate sticker shock – as well as unnecessary cart abandonment.

By keeping your potential customers informed, you’ll position your company as a leader in your industry – and as an organization that truly cares about the people it serves.

#2 Streamline the Entire Process

This goes for both brick-and-mortar and online stores:

If the process of shopping and making purchases is difficult, confusing, or annoying for consumers, you run the risk of losing them for good – and watching them flee to a competitor’s doorstep.

Let’s begin with the shopping process.

Generally, consumers visit an online store for one of two reasons: to make a specific purchase or to browse around.

In either case, they should be able to focus on doing exactly what they came for and nothing more. Any distractions or annoyances that arise only take away from this experience – making the consumer less likely to eventually make a purchase.

Is your site easy to navigate? Are your products categorized in a logical manner? Is product information easily accessible without having to jump around on your site?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you’re probably making it rather difficult for your visitors shop.

Take a look at the following image:

There are a bunch of things to take away here:

  • Visitors who are “just browsing” can easily navigate to a specific section of the online store via the horizontal menu near the top of the page
  • Visitors who know exactly what they’re looking for can use the search function
  • After landing on a product page, visitors can quickly tell what section the product is in (and can backtrack through the section hierarchy)
  • Similar products are suggested on the side of the page
  • Once the visitor adds a product to their cart, a non-intrusive popup appears to notify them of such – and gives them the option to continue shopping or to check out immediately.

The purpose of all these features is to emulate, as much as possible, the experience of visiting a brick-and-mortar store.

While determining which section you’re in, learning about a specific product, and finding similar products are somewhat straightforward processes in a physical setting, online stores can be much more disorienting if not well-organized. Make browsing your virtual store simple and logical, and your customers will be able to focus on the task at hand.

After a customer has filled up their cart, there’s still one more thing they need to do before you can consider the visit a success: make the purchase.

However, the process of checking out online is also the potential customer’s last opportunity to change their mind and turn away from your store without shelling out any money. So, it’s in your best interest to make sure this process goes as smoothly as possible avoid any aspects that could cause customers to abandon their cart.

First of all, make sure your customers know exactly what step they’re on throughout the process. Unlike in a physical setting in which the cashier walks customers through the payment process, online shoppers need to be given some frame of reference so they know what they’ll need to do next and how much longer the process will take.

Another hang-up that often occurs when shopping online is when stores either ask for too much information or require shoppers sign up for an account before making a purchase.

Convincing new customers to sign up for loyalty accounts and provide as much information as possible ideal from a marketing standpoint, but not every customer is interested in walking down that path. If you require them to do so before making a purchase, many of them will choose not to make the purchase at all.

Your best bet is to only require information pertinent to the transaction (e.g., name, address, email address, and billing info), and to allow your customers to checkout as a guest.

Again, in an ideal situation, a good percentage of your customers will sign up for your loyalty program – at which point you can gather more information about them – but you don’t want to risk alienating potential customers by forcing them to do something they don’t want to do.

Lastly, you need to consider how your customers intend to make payments. The last thing you want is for a prospective customer to abandon their cart because you don’t accept their preferred method of payment. Nowadays, there are a ton of online payment methods. Keep up with these trends to ensure you never lose customers over their inability to make a payment.

Online shopping should provide the convenience physical shopping often doesn’t contain. If your site’s processes are confusing or aggravating, it will essentially negate this convenience and cause potential customers to head elsewhere.

#3 Offer Guarantees and Customer Service

Though online shopping has become second nature to the modern consumer, there are certainly moments in which a customer may hesitate to hand over their money and information to a faceless entity based on the other side of the world.

And finding the best deal is incredibly easy when shopping online. Rather than schleping to five different physical locations, customers can now simply hit the “back” button on their browser to check out another store’s offers.

To alleviate your customers’ worries, your company needs to guarantee that:

  • They’re getting the best “bang for their buck” possible
  • Their money and information is safe
  • They’ll receive the right product, in perfect condition, within an agreed-upon timeframe
  • If the above doesn’t happen, you’ll work tirelessly to rectify the situation

As alluded to earlier, you should provide side-by-side comparisons of your company’s products or services and your competitors’. You can take this a step further by guaranteeing either equal pricing or additional value to your customers. For example, if you’re a retail company offering sports equipment, you might offer to match the price of any of your competition. Or, rather than matching a competitor’s prices, you might include small bonus items or other incentives that guarantee your customer is better off doing business with your company.

Regarding your customers’ money and information, at this point in time you need to have an SSL certificate. This will ensure that any information your customer submits through your website will remain encrypted and secure – making them much more comfortable with putting such sensitive data “out there” in the first place.

When it comes to actually delivering a product or service, a money-back guarantee will almost certainly allay any lingering hesitations your customers may have about purchasing from your company. Couple this with an easy return process to truly put your customer’s mind at ease.

Lastly, your customer service department should be available through multiple mediums. This includes phone, email, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. While you may not have the means to offer 24/7 support, you should ensure that any questions or comments are addressed in a professional and personable manner – before or after a sale takes place.


You don’t want prospective customers to feel like they’re gambling when they give you their money. By guaranteeing that they’ll receive exactly what they paid for (or that they’ll receive their money back if they don’t), you take away the risk. In turn, doing business with your company seems like a no-brainer.

#4 Automate Reminders and Follow-Ups

So far, we’ve discussed what you can do to minimize the chances of a customer abandoning their shopping cart.

But, if your customer has already abandoned their cart, there’s still a few ways you can wrangle them back in before they go too far.

First of all, if a customer has items in their cart but begins to navigate away from the page, you can provide a reminder of their full cart via a pop-up or exit-intent overlay. While visitors who truly do want to navigate away from your site probably won’t be swayed by these tactics, these overlays would be helpful to those who may have accidentally hit the “back” button, or who forgot they had added items to their cart.

If a visitor does abandon their cart full of items, you can send them an automated email message reminding them of such (Note this only works if the person has an account with your company and was signed in while browsing.)


While you might initially think most customers would be annoyed by such an email…well, you’re probably right.

But, those who appreciate the reminder show their appreciation by coming back and following through with their purchase.

According to data collected by GetElastic:

  • Half of all cart-abandonment reminder emails get opened
  • About 13% of opened emails earn a click-through
  • And about 33% of customers who click through to the actual site end up making a purchase

While this works out to about two out of every 100 customers who abandon their carts, that’s two more sales than you would have made if you hadn’t sent out the reminder. And, since the email is sent automatically, it costs you little to nothing to implement this strategy.

Simply put: many of your online shoppers will abandon their carts.

But that doesn’t mean you should give up on them.

By providing friendly, non-intrusive reminders both immediately and after some time has passed, you replant a seed in your visitor’s mind that could very well grow into a sale.

The Bottom Line

Cart abandonment is one of the biggest letdowns an online store owner can experience.

Unfortunately, as we just mentioned, it’s bound to happen from time to time, no matter how popular and trustworthy your brand is.

By anticipating the many reasons customers abandon their carts – and optimizing your site to avoid these issues – you can keep your customers from leaving your site without making a purchase.

Matt Duczeminski

Matt is a professional writer specializing in helping entrepreneurs improve relationships with their customers. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Sarah, and he'd probably get a lot more work done if his cat would stop bothering him.

Leave a comment:


Let's Get Acquainted

Chars: 0

Get your free print edition!

Fill out your complete details below

Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0