Why are customers abandoning online shopping carts?


Cart abandonment rates have increased, with the percentage of abandoned carts increasing by almost 15% between 2010 and 2015.

So why are customers abandoning carts?

With the help of The data of SaleCycle, which has stats on over a billion cart abandonments, I’ll look at some of the reasons and possible solutions.

Cart abandonment: statistics

There are some interesting statistics here. For example, the travel industry has the highest dropout rate at 80.1%. This compares to 70.4% for retail and 67.6% for fashion.

This could be due to the complexity of travel purchases compared to the average e-commerce to place.

For example, to complete the order to purchase a flight, one must enter passenger details and passport numbers as well as payment information.

There isn’t much travel sites can do about this as these details are needed, but there are areas for improvement.

For example, many travel sites add extras at checkout, like booking fees and insurance, which can make what seems like a good deal less appealing later in the process.

Abandonment is also lower at Christmas, which makes sense when you consider that people approach websites knowing they need to buy gifts and therefore have a greater intention to buy. than they normally would.

This graph shows the six most common reasons customers give for dropping out. I will look at each one in turn …

Why are customers abandoning carts?

In the opposite way…

6. Cannot find a discount code

I often wonder about the location of discount codes on Basket pages.

For customers who don’t have a code, this box (see the Sears example below) basically tells them that they might get a better deal.


A natural reaction to seeing this box would be to head over to Google (other search engines are of course available) and search for one.

Once customers have left the site, there is still a possibility that they will not return. Maybe they won’t find a Sears code, but they’ll find a better deal somewhere else, for example.


Other problems can include invalid codes. There are many sites bundling codes, and many of them are outdated or not applicable to the customer’s intended purchase.

Frustration caused by “coupon code failure” can be another reason for abandonment.

What can retailers do about it?

  • Do not use them. This is an option, although coupons are popular and would remove a useful marketing tactic.
  • More targeting. They might be displayed only to customers arriving via a link in a promotional email, but not to everyone.
  • Have your own coupon code page. This could ensure that people who search for codes come back to your site. Sears has one, although it is less important than third-party sites.
  • Hide the coupon code box. Sites may display a small text link instead of the most obvious area. Those who seek it will find it, others will not.
  • Offer a default code. Sites might offer a code under the box for a small discount to keep people on the spot. Maybe in exchange for an e-mail address.

5. Confused payments

A good payment The process should be easy to understand and minimize friction for buyers.

It should also be clear what steps customers need to take to complete payment, the form fields must be clear, and the language should be easy to understand.

Here Crate & Barrel outlines the four steps customers should take, the form fields are clear and required fields are marked as such.


4. Payment security issues

Customers should be able to trust the security of your website, and retailers can build trust in several ways.

This includes having a brand of trust, overall site performance (a slow loading site does not build trust), good design, and social proof.

Here, Bellroy, in addition to having a well-designed and clear checkout, offers security guarantees during the process.


3. Conduct research

This is something that retailers will have less control over.

People will add items to their cart while they are making comparisons, or just to see the final costs with shipping and any other added charges.

Retailers could minimize this with greater price clarity, or could increase the chances that customers end up converting by making it easier to save basket contents for later.

2. I had to create an account

This is an obvious obstacle to conversion. While most retailers seem to have realized the potential of mandatory registration to kill conversions, many still persist.

Here, CostCo insists that you sign up before you go to checkout: costco-reg

Additionally, text that says non-members “may be charged extra” is another potential conversion killer.

Providing a payment option to guests removes this barrier to purchase, while customers may be offered the option to create an account later in the process.

Here is a good example of guest checkout from Crate & Barrel:

guest checkout

1. Unexpected shipping costs

Unpleasant surprises regarding shipping costs were cited by 28% of respondents as a reason for giving up.

The solution is simple: Retailers can avoid this problem by providing clear shipping information up front.

Sears takes the trouble to ask customers to enter a postal code to estimate shipping costs on its product pages.

sears shipping

However, people have to get into the cash register before revealing the costs, which must be annoying for customers.

Customers must enter their email address or sign in before they can see this information. If they don’t like the fees, they’ll abandon the purchase, if they haven’t already.


A better approach would be to display the shipping cost on the product page when customers enter a zip code, or event to have a clear flat rate to avoid confusion.

Cart Abandonment Infographic

Here’s an infographic showing the stats mentioned here, along with others. (Click here if you want to see a larger version).


For more information, see our new Guide to good payment practices, as well as guides on mobile commerce, client experience, and social customer service, all under the ClickZ Intelligence banner.


About Martin Aaron

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