Online retail is rapidly expanding and is expected to become a $1.5 trillion industry this year.

Cart abandonment is cutting into profits for retailers, as 68% of carts are left behind before the purchase is complete. 

While retailers can do little about some of the motives, they can ensure that the abandonment rates are kept to a minimum. 

Here's how... 

Cart abandonment is an all too familiar problem for online retailers worldwide. Shoppers visit their site, look around, add a few products to their cart, and then leave without completing their purchase.

Some 75% of abandoners return and are therefore more likely to complete their transaction. Returning is a good sign because shoppers who have abandoned their carts more than once have a 48% rate of being recovered, compared to 18% of first time abandoners.

There are myriad reasons why 68% of shoppers abandon their carts. Their rationale for leaving might be complex, but the impact is not.

Global retailers are losing $3 trillion in sales each year from cart abandonment alone. If retailers are able to make check out secure, consistent, and appealing, then they can convert warm leads into customers.

Recapturing buyers is essential because once you’ve got them, it’s easier to get them to make future purchases. Existing customers are up to 14 times more likely to make another purchase, when compared to first time buyers.

On average they also spend more than twice what new customers do.

Price sensitivity is common among consumers, so it makes sense that three out of the top five reasons for cart abandonment are price related.

Here are our top strategies for preventing and reducing cart abandonment:

1. Retarget shoppers with timely reminder emails and ads

The first 12 hours after a shopper abandons their cart are crucial because approximately 72% will return to complete their purchase within 12 to 24 hours.

Retailers can successfully get abandoners to come back with reminder emails, and coupons are also a great incentive.

Ads are also effective because by utilizing cookies, retailers can have their ads pop up after the shopper has left the page without completing the transaction.

2. Be transparent about shipping costs and time

No one likes unexpected costs tacked on at the end, nor does anyone like waiting a long time to receive their order.

Online retailers can cut down on abandoners by being upfront about shipping times and costs. Offering free and quick delivery is always a great way to persuade shoppers to convert to customers.

3. Don’t forget about existing customers

Returning customers are up to 14 times more likely to make a purchase and their purchases are generally double the amount compared to first time buyers.

Make them a primary marketing target.

4. Optimize for mobile

Mobile sales are skyrocketing: they increased by 63% in 2013.

Retailers must take the design of their site into consideration because shoppers have high expectations for the mobile shopping experience.

5. Redesign your checkout process

Shoppers don’t want to have to go through eight different steps to make a purchase. They want it to be easy and quick. Simple is always better.

6. Provide ample product information

Product information should be clearly presented to shoppers. They shouldn’t have to dig, because if they have to search for it, it is easy for them to hop on to another site to make the purchase.

Ari Shpanya

Published 10 April, 2014 by Ari Shpanya

Ari is the co-founder of HomeShare and Zent , Graduate of the GSB Stanford Ignite program, and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Comments (10)

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David Aldred, Web Manager at The University of Nottingham

Second one - be clear about shipping costs up front - definitely!

Most of the time I abandon a cart it's because the only way to find out the cost of delivery was to get to the checkout.

over 4 years ago

Josh Gill

Josh Gill, Digital Marketing Executive at Mediademon

Same as David ^ - couldn't agree more with #2!

Also think #5 is a screamer nowadays - when it's so easy for a customer to compare prices and leave a site with the click of a mouse, you've got to make things as seamless and simple as possible during the checkout process.

over 4 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Agree with all of these points. Very good article.

Also our figures show that abandonment rates are increasing (second chart):

Finally, if your recovery program includes a significant offer - for example you normally ask shoppers to pay for shipping but it's offered free in your abandonment recovery email - then you are driving people to abandon rather than purchase immediately, complicating the buying process, and losing a proportion of sales.

over 4 years ago



I'm wondering if anyone saw the recent Wall Street Journal article about StubHub's decision to include its fees upfront in its pricing. It's somewhat analogous to the decision to display shipping prices upfront. The interesting thing is that StubHub says it led to lower conversion rates because their competitors' prices appear lower.

Here's the pertinent line from the article that appears to go against conventional wisdom about being honest:

"[N]ow that StubHub's listed prices include the fees, they appear more expensive, and sales have fallen as fans gravitate to sites that list lower base prices and hide fees, the company said."

over 4 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

@Steve - Very interesting example. That WSJ link is paywalled, so here's one that's not.

"Three months after StubHub began including all of its fees in the ticket price, sales have slumped. The same thing happened following J.C. Penney’s short-lived experiment with “honest pricing.” Honesty, it seems, does not pay."

over 4 years ago



I think the best answer to this like you said is using retargeting ads. We've run some tests and have noticed that a large share come back to look at the products once again when seeing them.

over 4 years ago



I think product photography is as important as product info. My favorite is #5.

over 4 years ago


Osanda Cooray

Its important to understand that success in today’s competitive marketing environment depends on how well you build your digital presence and optimize your customers’ multi-channel experiences.

Digital Marketing strategies to boost your E-Commerce revenue in 2014 -

over 4 years ago

Al Mackin

Al Mackin, Founder at Formisimo

Hey Arnie,

At the risk of self promotion I wanted to mention as we're a form and checkout analytics startup that helps with Step 5 (Redesign checkout process).

It's rare that a check-out process can't be improved. There's a dangerous belief that the key end point in most e-commerce visitor journeys is working fine, and can't be bettered.


over 3 years ago


Brian Childs, retired at Ashnook Plants

First, I cannot understand how this effects profits? Surely the retailer does not count the item as sold and removed from stock until it's paid for.
Second, I often go to a site I use a lot and put things in the basket that I want to buy not yet and usually go back later to add things and then pay for them. Perhaps they need a 'will buy later' or 'purchasing list' for this activity.

over 3 years ago

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