Using customer survey data, we look into some of the reasons for cart abandonment in the retail sector. 

Here are some of the headline stats from our data:


Why are people abandoning shopping carts, and what can you do about it?

The reasons given for abandoning carts, in reverse order…

Experienced a technical issue (4%)

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This covers a range of potential problems with several possible explanations.

For example, a problem completing a form field may seem to be a technical issue with the site, but could just be a result of poor design or copy.

In other cases, sites may slow up or freeze, which can severely dent shoppers’ confidence, especially when this happens on the payment screen.

The answer is to ensure that the site can handle both expected volumes of traffic, and the extra traffic that may come during peak shopping days, Black Friday for instance.

Lack of payment options (6%)

It’s important to offer alternatives to credit and debit cards for customers who prefer them, and PayPal is the obvious alternative that many retailers now offer.

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It could also be about convenience. Even if a customer can use a credit or debit card, the effort involved in inputting numbers (especially on mobile) means some prefer to use other methods.

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Leaf Embroidered Colorful Satchel Bag Black Women's It’s also important to match the payment methods offered to local preferences. Preferred online payment methods will vary between markets. While shoppers in the US and UK generally use card payment or PayPal, there is more variation elsewhere.

For example, ELV, a kind of direct debit payment, is the most popular method for German consumers. IDEAL is a similar method which is popular in the Netherlands.

Other options include deferred payment or credit options, which may help with bigger ticket purchases such as electronics and automotive. These can be offered direct by the retailer or via solutions such as Affirm.

Decided to buy in-store (15%)

If the customer goes on to complete a purchase at a local store, then this isn’t necessarily a problem for the retailer. In fact, it can be an advantage as the store offers opportunities to cross and up-sell to customers.

Ideally, if customers choose to buy in-store, they’ll use click and collect, which provides a link between website and store. It also has the advantage of allowing retailers to match online and offline activity.

Wanted to compare prices (18%)

It’s natural that customers will want to make sure they have found the best price for the product, especially for higher priced items.

If your prices are competitive, customers may well return after a quick search, or a remarketing email sent soon after may be the prompt they need.

It’s a tricky one for some retailers, as they don’t want to be sucked into a race to the bottom on price which will damage profitability.

Instead, depending on the product, retailer can compete on aspects which improve the customer experience such as next day delivery, great site design or add extra value.

For example, this TV stocked by John Lewis can be found £50 cheaper elsewhere, but not with a five year guarantee:

Some sites have become more creative in their attempts to appeal to comparison shoppers. For example, Curry’s responds to users copying and pasting the product name to present its price match offering.

Had an issue with shipping (23%)

Issues with shipping could be a lack of satisfactory options, or perhaps the perception that the cost of shipping is too high.

Consumers want the choice of shipping options. Many will expect next-day and even same day options. The previous standard of three or four day delivery is no longer enough.

Take a look at Amazon, a company which has really focussed on shipping. It can now offer so many convenient options that some other retailers’ shipping offerings now look very weak.

Then there’s price. People absolutely hate hidden costs appearing once they enter checkout, and shipping is still something that causes this problem.

Being upfront about shipping costs, showing them as early as possible will help to minimise this problem. Ideally this information should be available on product pages, as revealing once customers have entered checkout increases the risk of abandonment.

Just Looking (34%)

Some people just aren’t ready to buy. Perhaps they’re adding items to carts to check the total price, or using the cart as a wish list.

Depending on the product, the research process can take some time. A big purchase like a new PC or TV is likely to involve some consideration, more so for other products. The average holiday purchase process is said to last 45 days, while for automotive it may be even longer.

Sites can at least help shoppers with the research process, which keeps them on site (and the brand in shopper’s minds) longer.

Product ratings and reviews can help here. Reviews like these on Home Depot are great for helping customers research, presenting unbiased information on product performance and features.

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