5 Tips to Reduce Cart Abandonment

How often do you visit a website, add something to your cart, and then never purchase it? Chances are you do it quite often. In fact, a whopping 79% of online carts are abandoned before even getting to the checkout process. The reasons vary, but many carts are abandoned because people are simply browsing. It is the same as a person walking into a store, wandering around with a few items in hand, but setting them down before getting to the checkout counter. They want to look at the item, and maybe they will buy it, but they talk themselves out of it. I do this all the time on sites like Amazon, where items catch my eye but don’t push me to pull out my credit card.

Other factors for cart abandonment include checking the cost of shipping, price checking with your competitors, and opting to purchase in store. Technical issues oddly rank lowest according to SaleCycle, and lack of payment options is just above that (see our article on better options than PayPal).

We’ve put together 5 tips that can help you convert abandoned carts into sales, and you can start implementing them today.

1. Ensure Your Mobile Checkout is Flawless

On average about 21% of American shoppers will abandon their cart if the checkout process is too long or complicated on a full-sized screen and cart abandonment in general is much higher on a mobile device – 85% compared to 73% on a desktop. If your process is already long and overly complex on a desktop, it only becomes more cumbersome on a smaller device and cart abandonment increases.

Redesigning your checkout process to include fewer elements, show the full costs (tax, shipping and processing) and making doubly sure that your mobile version is just as smooth can drastically reduce the amount of people abandoning your website. According to Baymard, a standard large size e-commerce business (not Walmart, Amazon or Wayfair) can expect to see a 35.26% increase in conversion rate simply by optimizing the checkout process.

In the United States, that number roughly translates to $260 billion that is recoverable. Do not sleep on this.

2. Create a Well-Designed Abandoned Cart Email

If you’re not already tracking engagement on your site, you’ll need to be in order to send abandoned cart emails, but this strategy is effective at converting abandoned carts into sales. It is a simple reminder that something was left in a users’ cart, but it needs to be designed thoughtfully, so it isn’t just a blur of useless information.

You’ll need to capture your customers’ attention with a great header image that clearly illustrates why the email is being sent, you should focus their attention on the products/s and your call-to-action buttons should be very prominent with colors that attract rather than blend.

An example of a good abandoned cart email comes from threadUP.


It does a lot of things right:

  • It has a well-designed header.
  • The text message style of tagline is unique and funny.
  • The product is prominently featured.
  • The price is easily seen.
  • The call-to-action button is noticeable and witty.

Well-designed abandoned cart emails are effective at converting, as seen below.

Abandonment email open rate by sector
Abandonment email conversion rate by sector

3. Make Your Shipping Costs Known

23% of your customers will abandon the purchase if they run into shipping fees that they feel are too high or are only made known to them on the last step of the purchase. If you factor in all the extra costs like taxes, then cart abandonment goes up to 50%. You’re always going to lose some due to the full cost of things, but showing the customer exactly how much they’re going to pay before even hitting checkout is going to help them process it better. Making them just through several hoops before hitting them with the full cost results in a lot of abandoned carts.

Design your cart so that you can allow users to enter the zip code and select from your shipping options so that both tax and shipping prices can be calculated into the full price. If you’re offering discounts, make sure the amount saved is clearly highlighted. The bottom line here is just to be upfront with your customers when it comes to how much cash they need to drop.

The law enforcement holster company below has an excellent cart that also ties well into point #4.

Cart checkout process to reduce abandonment

4. Ensure You Highlight Known Payment Methods

US adults will abandon carts about 17% of the time if they don’t feel safe punching in their credit card numbers. No one wants to end up with identity theft issues or hours listening to hold music while the bank sorts out fraudulent charges, so you need to highlight that your cart and payment methods are trusted. Show that you use known and trusted payment processors with badges such as those from McAfee Secure or PayPal Secure Checkout, and ensure that you’re using SSL on areas where vital information is being entered. Showing that you accept all major forms of credit cards also helps ease consumers minds. 

If you show your customers that you’ve put effort into making sure their money and information is secure, they’ll be much less likely to abandon the cart.

5. Eliminate the Need to Create a New User Account

When a customer wants to buy something, they want to buy it now. Putting a barrier in their way only frustrates them. Customers may want your product, but they don’t want you storing all of their information for eternity, especially if it is a one-time purchase. A sizeable 28% of shoppers admit to abandoning carts because of this extra step placed in their way.

In the full checkout process, give them the convenience of using the information they’ve already provided to create a user account, but don’t force it upon them. This way you’ll satisfy those that want to buy it immediately and those that are intending on frequently purchasing from your website.

J. Fleischmann
J. Fleischmann
James is a content strategist, sites manager and copywriter for ServerWise. He's written 51 e-books for clients resulting in over 600,000 new leads as a ghostwriter. James lives in Texas with three dogs and has a Longhorn as a neighbor.