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Problems with the checkout process constitute the single biggest loss of revenue for many e-commerce sites, with almost half of online retail transactions abandoned at this stage.

According to figures from Marketing Sherpa, the average abandonment rate for shopping carts is 60%, of which 12% give up before hitting the checkout. This means 48% of potential customers bail out at the checkout stage.

There are big variations, with abandonment rates ranging from as low as 15% to as high as 90%. This suggests that there is much room for improvement for etailers.

Reasons for abandoning shopping carts

The chart above shows the results of two surveys, and gives an idea of the variety of reasons for customers leaving the checkout process.

Some reasons may be omitted from these answers, such as customers' level of trust in a website, but the data suggests some important conclusions:

  1. Many e-commerce checkouts are suffering from design problems which can be easily rectified.
    These include hidden charges, lack of clear delivery details, or poor usability.
  2. Business processes within the checkout area give customers problems
    User registration, shipping costs that customers consider too high, or overlong checkout processes.
  3. Some carts are abandoned for reasons beyond the control of the retailer. 
    Some people will add items to their basket and reach the checkout when comparison shopping, with no intention of buying.  

These conclusions suggest that there is much that online retailers can do to reduce their abandonment rates. Case studies suggest a 10-15% reduction can be achieved through redesign, split-testing or a combination of the two.

For more, see our Online Retail 2007: Checkout Special by Dr Mike Baxter, which examines checkout best practice.

Graham Charlton

Published 5 July, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Bill Hartzer

I've been looking at this very issue lately on a few ecommerce sites. Turns out that one reason that one particular online retailer was suffering from people abandoning the carts was because they always asked for a coupon code. People then went to find a coupon code for money off their order and weren't returning.

almost 9 years ago

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Nigel Ravenhill

ScanAlert just published a research report which talks about this issue. Cart abandonment is not nearly as important as site abandonment.

Shoppers are now taking on average 34 hours and 19 minutes from the time they first visit an ecommerce site to when they finally make a purchase, according to an analysis of 2.6 million online sales. The delay is now more than half a day (80%) longer than the 19 hour 11 min average we reported in 2005. The new report, Digital Window Shopping: The Long Delay Before Buying, is available at www.scanalert.com/windowshopping2007

almost 9 years ago

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Adrian Wisniewski

Has anyone any abandondment rates in relation to complaints, comments & compliments?

almost 9 years ago

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wendy ingram, Charlie Quebec Ltd

I agree that it is important to work out why customers genuinely abandon their shopping carts. However, it cannot be assumed that every time users leave a shopping basket unchecked out, that they are abandoning it forever. Online, users can rehearse their shopping behavior.

It is not uncommon for users to fill and then abandon their baskets up to 5 times before finally purchasing. They can add and remove different items from their basket. They can rehearse spending the money (this is especially true with large ticket items), before they actually spend it. Therefore a large percentage of shopping cart abandonment is not abandonment at all, it is rehearsal and as such should be encouraged.

almost 9 years ago

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Steve

My complaint isn't in the rankings: I find many vendors do not quote their products' price anywhere else in their site. In fact, they're deliberately cagey. So I click on "buy now," get the shocking news I sort of expected, and then cancel.

almost 9 years ago

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John Jackson

Great tips. I have a lot of people that fill up there shopping cart, and don't buy. If 1/3 of those customaries bought something I would be way better off. Helpful article thanks..

almost 9 years ago

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Mark

I agree with Steve....PLEASE clearly post the price of the item so we aren't forced to go through the checkout to find out what it is!!!!

almost 9 years ago

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Turkish SEO guy

great stat! It is so funny that many websites require registration for purchase. And then they create an email database from these registrations and send emails. And only 1-2 % of emails max convert... So, they sacrifice 31% for 1-2%! You can call me skeptical about email marketing but that is my impression.

over 8 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Philip, I think the point here is that retailers will get customers' address and other details when they checkout, so asking them to register before this point is unnecessary.

I've had a look at Webtogs' process, and customers only have to enter their details once they have decided to checkout, so I don't see a problem there.

about 8 years ago

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Serviced offices

Great tips. I have a lot of people that fill up there shopping cart, and don't buy. If more than one third of those customaries bought something I would be way better off. I am looking into the specific point of abandonment now,this will be based on 4 criterions//I will be sharing this soon..Thanks for the article.

over 7 years ago

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OfficeSpaceFinders

Anything over 30 pounds, unless bulky should be sent FOC.

over 7 years ago

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Pet dog

I been wondering for months why some of my cart shoppers leave my site.  This is the first time it's been laid out in a chart.  Thank you so much for this article,  its helped me tremendously!!!

over 7 years ago

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Serviced Offices

Great tips for etailers here!

about 7 years ago

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shilpa

Good article. even my webiste faced problems while checkout. when we under went a survey people said google checkout is very easy way to pay once registered.

about 7 years ago

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martin

Thank you so much for this - I will definitely be updating our shopping cart. Thinking about changing some wording from 'coupon code' to 'gift certificate' to imply that they would already have said discount code and not leave to look for one.

about 6 years ago

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Steve

Hi there,

I wondered weather anybody had problems, with different payment types, like paypal and the normal checkout procedure! With our website we take all card payments but in the non-paypal checkout we only take credit cards? I think this is a problem and I am looking into changing it.

The other aspect I was thinking, was there research done about the abandoment rates increasing because the checkout goes to a seperate URL and does not stay inside of the website?

about 6 years ago

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outsourcing

The other aspect I was thinking, was there research done about the abandoment rates increasing because the checkout goes to a seperate URL and does not stay inside of the website?

about 6 years ago

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SJR Luxuria

Great post from an expert and it will be a great knowledge to us and thank you very much for sharing this valuable information with us.

almost 5 years ago

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