Why do customers abandon their shopping basket?
Customers abandon shopping carts. Fact. This is not news. On average, 75% of customers will abandon their basket without buying. This rate can differ dramatically depending on the product you’re selling and industry you’re in.

In this article, you'll find a list of the key reasons customers leave their shopping carts - abandoned, alone and unpaid for! It's likely none of these reasons will come as a big surprise to you, but a carefully considered list can  often help focus the mind and provide clarity on how and where to best focus efforts, particularly if you’re looking to minimise shopping cart abandonment on your website.

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Cost, time and technology are key drivers.
The shopping basket isn’t safe from abandonment until the ‘Buy’ button has been firmly hit. There are two main points along the browse to buy purchase journey where customers abandon their carts. Firstly, after they have placed items in their cart and secondly, after they start the checkout process. 

Below are the key reasons why customers might leave a website without purchasing, after placing items in their basket.

Your cart abandoners (sometimes called basket abandoners):
  1. Selected items aren’t enough to qualify for free or discounted shipping. Customers will often look elsewhere for cheaper shipping options.
  2. Objected to unexpected costs (e.g. taxes, add-on costs, extended warranties or protection plans, service fees, etc.). It’s best to show all related costs up-front so the customer isn’t given any surprises along the way.
  3. Wanted to reserve items for purchase later after more consideration. Unless your site offers a ‘wish-list’ functionality, many customers will flippantly place multiple products into their basket without a second thought as they browse. They have no intention of buying it all, but want a shortlist of the items they’re considering.
  4. Found a better deal elsewhere. One of the biggest drivers to shopping cart abandonment is comparison - most savvy consumers will shop for better deals before committing to buy.
  5. Used multiple devices to research and buy, shopping on one device and later buying on another, often browsing on mobile and switching to check out on a home or office desktop computer. It’s worth noting here that conversion platforms (like cloud.IQ) will recognise when a customer shops across devices, so you can remarket to customers abandoning a basket on one device and provide the same basket on another device when they return, helping to recover lost sales.
  6. Couldn’t find or didn’t understand the return policy, a key trust and peace of mind factor in the psychology of buying.
  7. Got interrupted after putting items in the cart. There’s a million reasons this can happen - spilt coffee, phone rings, baby cries, microwave pings, they realise the time etc etc - and of course, it can happen at any stage before they buy.
  8. Had problems navigating their way to register/login before checking out. This one might open a big can of user experience worms. If this is the case, the best place to start is with an audit of your current process. Use analytics to see if you can identify this part of the journey as a problem.

Your checkout abandoners:
  1. Couldn’t use a coupon, discount or other promotion or special offer.
  2. Didn’t qualify for free, reduced, expedited shipping or other benefits.
  3. Were put off by unexpected costs (taxes, service fees for personalisation or gift wrap, service agreements, etc.).
  4. Didn’t want to register for an account in order to buy (most sites will offer a guest checkout to avoid this).
  5. Objected to the amount of information requested before reaching the payment page. It’s tricky to get the balance right but sticking to the essentials is usually best. Don’t forget you can build on data collected via future interactions.
  6. Found the payment process too long or too confusing (e.g. not being able to go back to the previous page without having to start again).
  7. Couldn’t use their preferred credit cards or payment services.
  8. Didn’t trust the site or payment security (make sure it’s visible).
  9. Lost connectivity during the checkout process or suffered some other technical glitch (pages timed out or failed to load etc.).

The good news is that most of these shopping cart abandonment reasons are within your power to improve. Analysis of your checkout process will reveal your weakest spots and areas to prioritise. As this article from Kissmetrics identifies, there are many ways (40, in fact) that you can use to  improve your checkout experience to reduce cart abandonment.

Overlays can also be an effective way to reduce basket abandonment. We work with a large consumer publisher who saw a 2.5% increase in revenue from a basket reminder overlay offered to customers leaving their subscription purchase. These overlays will ask if the customer would like to receive their shopping basket by email and often include an incentive such as a discount or free shipping, another friendly customer service touch.

And of course, a cart recovery campaign is one of the most effective ways to recover lost sales and drive incremental revenue. Use a basket reminder overlay and cart recovery email together and you can improve conversion even further. The publisher mentioned above ran a cart recovery campaign at the same time as an overlay, resulting in a 4.5% revenue uplift at an ROI of 4,453%. Running their cart recovery campaign on our fixed fee (rather than CPA) pricing model meant higher returns and protected profits.Top 10 Tips to Creating an Effective Cart Recovery Email Programme Guide