Basket abandonment is unavoidable for e-commerce sites, as no business will ever achieve a 100% conversion rate.

As these stats show, the most common causes are high shipping costs and forced registration, but often customers are simply just browsing for ideas.

However by understanding what causes customers to dropout before completing a purchase and making a few adjustment to the site design, businesses can reduce the impact of basket abandonment.

So here’s a run through of several different studies into what causes people to bail on purchases, as well as tips on how to improve conversion rates

Abandoned purchases cost UK retailers £1bn

An estimated £1.02bn worth of online shopping transactions were abandoned in 2011 by UK consumers, according to Experian.

One in five of these abandoned transactions were not taken elsewhere as individuals cancelled their shopping attempt altogether, resulting in £214m worth of net lost revenue for UK retailers.

The study found that 44% of UK shoppers abandoned at least one online shopping transaction last year having become frustrated with the length and complexity of certain older forms of identity verification.

Don’t hide delivery charges

A survey conducted by Econsultancy and TolunaQuick found that 74% of shoppers would abandon a purchase due to high delivery charges, while 54% would drop out if they experienced any technical problems.

A quarter (26%) said that being forced to register would cause them to abandon a purchase.

After adding items to your basket, what would make you abandon your purchase?

When asked specifically about the checkout, the most popular reason for abandonment was hidden charges (71%), concerns about payment security (58%) and technical problems or slow loading pages (44%).

Once you are in the checkout process, what would deter you from completing the purchase?

Use retargeting

According to HubSpot, the average shopping cart is abandoned by 66% of shoppers. But this can be in part remedied by retargeting, as 20% of cart abandoners return and purchase after retargeting.

Also, returners spend on average 55% more than those who did not abandon a cart.

How did ASOS halve its abandonment rate?

Clothing retailer ASOS managed to halve its abandonment rate by removing the need for customers to create an account.

However, the sneaky part is that customers actually still create an account, it’s just that ASOS removed any mention of registering.

Instead it simply asks you to provide a password as part of the standard checkout requirements such as contact name and email address.

Forced registration remains a major cause of basket abandonment, particularly on mobile, and the ASOS example proves how easy it is to reduce its negative impact on conversion rates.

How shipping costs affect cart abandonment

Data included in an infographic from Milo shows that the top reasons for cart abandonment are the fact that the shopper wasn’t ready to make a purchase (57%) or were saving items for later (56%), followed by high shipping costs (55%).

A further 51% said they hadn’t completed a purchase as their items didn’t qualify for free shipping.

The data also shows that shoppers are more likely to drop out if they have to wait a long time for delivery.

When asked would encourage them to complete their purchase, 73% of respondents said free shipping, followed by a guaranteed delivery date (60%), a variety of payment options (56%) and a login option to save purchasing preferences (50%).

Black Friday is no exception

A report from IBM Coremetrics Benchmark shows that even the shopping frenzy of Black Friday doesn’t remedy the issue of cart abandonment for US retailers.

In 2011, the abandonment rate on Black Friday was 65.53%, while on Cyber Monday it was 62.31%.

On Cyber Monday, the figure actually increases to 73.93% among department stores, while apparel sites achieved a rate of 64.37%, health and beauty 63.29% and home goods 65.4%.

On Black Friday 2011, the rates were 67.72% for apparel, 76.27% for department stores, 67.36% for health and beauty, and 68.28% for home goods.

More reasons for abandonment

Stats included in an infographic from Invesp suggest that the main reason for cart abandonment is high shipping costs (44%), followed by the fact that the consumer isn’t ready to purchase (41%) and high product prices (25%).

Other prominent reasons include a desire to save products for later consideration (24%), sites not clearly stating shipping costs (22%) and no guest checkout option (14%).

Ways to reduce basket abandonment

There are steps that sites can take to reduce the number of people who bail on purchases.

You can read more in our blog post ‘Checkout optimisation: 10 ways to reduce abandonment’, but here are a few examples:

  • Avoid unnecessary barriers. Make the checkout process as easy as possible by limiting the number of clicks between adding an item to the basket and completing the purchase.
  • Remove compulsory registration. As proven by the ASOS example, allowing customers to use a guest checkout can massively reduce the number of dropouts.
  • Reaffirm prices and delivery charges. This allows customers to quickly check on the contents of their shopping carts and the total charges before they complete the checkout, removing any concerns about costs.
  • Provide alternative payment methods. According to WorldPay stats, alternative payments account for 22% of global e-commerce transactions, worth a total of €165bn, so it makes sense to allow customers to pay using different methods.
  • Clear calls-to-action. Use big, clear CTAs so the customer knows exactly what the next step is and doesn’t have to waste time working out what to do.

How much could you recoup?

Listrak estimates that online retailers lose $18bn a year as a result of cart abandonment. To find out how much your site is potentially losing, try out its sales recovery calculator.

It’s just a bit of fun, but might be an eye-opening experience for anyone with a high cart abandonment rate.

Basket abandonment emails

According to stats from RedEye, 14% of retailers use basket abandonment emails to try and entice customers back to make a purchase.

In a previous blog post we highlighted 10 tips for improving basket abandonment emails, and here’s a run through of a few examples:

  • Test the timing of the basket abandonment email.
  • Build in dynamic content to display the articles that were left in the basket.
  • Vary the message according to the drop out stage.
  • Use offers.
  • Research why your customers have abandoned.