Abandoned carts: the cold hard truth

Unexpected costs and inconvenience in various forms are the two deciding factors causing online shoppers to abandon their carts.

Abandoned carts represent significant lost revenue for merchants, with some eCommerce retailers calculate as many as 70 per cent of carts are abandoned without conversion to a sale.

What drives these potential customers away, and what can retailers do to bring them back?

A report from VWO interviewed a group of 100 consumers and asked them what caused them to lose interest in a shopping experience. The results were telling:

VWO eCommerce Survey 2014

Unexpected costs, including delivery costs, which boost the price of the product was number one, closely followed by inconvenience – in payments options and delivery services.

Form errors and lack of offers also made the list, and there is always a percentage of customers who come to the site with no intention to buy, but largely speaking, it is the ease and transparency of their digital experience which drives a customer to complete their purchase.

“An eCommerce experience needs to be upfront with its information, and avoid as much ‘admin’ work as possible,” said a spokesman from RedBox Digital, which commissioned the study.

“It needs to be streamlined, customer focused, informative and engaging.”

Businesses could reduce the risk of cart abandonment by declaring shipping costs upfront, factoring a guest checkout option into their builds, simplifying the checkout process and using trust indicators to take care of the security concerns, he said.

“An efficient and skillfully constructed eCommerce solution can minimise the chance of an abandoned cart.”

Of course once a cart is abandoned, for whatever reason, it does not necessarily mean a loss. With adequate data collection, customers can be persuaded to revisit their shopping basket and complete their purchase.

In the same survey, the customers were asked how likely a direct communication, with an offer on their abandoned items, would be to bring them back to the site. The results were again clear: “Effective communication and incentive, particularly among younger age groups, is enough to swing a conversion from an undecided buyer.”


The  RedBox Digital spokesman said that in a comprehensive strategy, sites would be intuitive and easy to use, offer guest check out functionality and have a simple sign up process.

“Special offers should be driven by data and targeted effectively to capitalise on the millions of opportunities presented every year by empty shopping carts.”


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