Are you a retailer kept up by cart abandonment nightmares?

We’ve all done it. Clicked through pages and pages of merchandise, added various items to the cart and simply never made it to checkout.

It’s like we turned our backs and never looked back. Metaphorically, of course. But as a retailer, that’s the last thing you want.

Combat cart abandonment and increase conversion rates with the following tips and tricks. 

The power of video

While all retailers scatter images throughout their web stores, many underestimate the power of video. Placing a video on your homepage introducing your brand, while also advertising your products, gives your store personality and depth.

Cater your welcome video to your target market and it could help convince consumers to take a look through your catalog.

Retailers can make specific videos for their best sellers or trending products in efforts to get them further into the limelight.

Video allows for the product to come to life, showing consumers the product’s various uses and benefits. This could be the final nudge a customer needs to make the purchase.

Seeing that viewers are 64%-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video, this is an investment retailers shouldn’t pass up.

Keep it local

Retailers could also add certain geo-targeted attributes into their store to increase conversion rates.

Walmart has recently started to do this by allowing consumers to see localized deals and specials offered at stores nearby. Although you don’t have to mimic this exactly, follow in the footsteps of this major retailer and add your own spin on it.

You can do this by addressing current weather or upcoming local events that consumers might need to shop for. It could be a friendly reminder for necessities they may have forgotten.

Trying to go international? Add a widget into your store that tells customers right off the bat if you ship to their state or country.

These features make for more personalized shopping and a better customer service experience. You could also compare prices of the biggest competitors, near or far, in-store or online. Include an automated pricing strategy in order to monitor your competitive landscape and price efficiently. 

Cart persistently

Have you ever gone through pages and pages of an online store, packed your cart, and accidentally closed the tab?

Whatever it was, you didn’t complete checkout, not yet anyways. And when you finally did decide to return, the little number next to the cart said: (0). Frustrating isn’t it?

Consumers think so, too. Solve this problem by implementing a persistent shopping cart. It won't empty when the page is closed and can keep items in the cart for as many days as specified.

So how many days is best? The longer the better. Keeping the items in the cart could remind returning customers of an item they wanted or needed, but simply overlooked, reigniting interest.

Product page perfection

Your products’ pages are the strongest weapon in your arsenal. They could make or break a purchase and be the one element that persuades a consumer to splurge on a long sought after good.

While all products could have product videos, the odds of that are unlikely. So utilize images to the best of your ability by keeping them crisp and clear.

Feature images at various angles and even include stills of people using the product. This makes the product more realistic, helping the shopper get ideas of how they could use it.

Accompany these photos with two product descriptions. While both should be informative and enticing, they should differ in length and style.

Use bullet points for shoppers in hurry, who only want to know the most important attributes and one in sentence form for those who have more time and need to build more confidence in order to purchase.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that, prices should always be present and easy to find on your product pages. Consumers don’t like to feel tricked, so be transparent with your price.

If needed, make a note of shipping and handling fees, because if they are included too late and buyers don’t like what they see, they could end up leaving their cart hanging.

Competition is getting more intense and retailers cannot afford to lose any more potential carts. Using videos, persistent carts and more could help build loyal customers and brand value.

What are other ways for retailers to fight cart abandonment?

Contributing Writer: Amanda Lin

Ari Shpanya

Published 2 September, 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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Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

The single best way to reduce cart abandonment is speed up your checkup process. That really makes a huge difference.

I've watched as shoppers fill their cart in 1 minute, then take more than 10 minutes to checkout. Totally the wrong way around. So:

(1) Test that your eCommerce system runs quickly and reliably at peak times, because some don't.
(2) Minimize the amount of information you request from the shopper
(3) Ensure your checkout process is straightforward
(4) It you're a certain airline: do not "automatically upgrade" my flight to a more expensive package, so I have to start over.

Finally, when you do lose customers - as everyone does - make sure you've a system in place to win them back, because modern cart and browse abandonment systems are pretty good:

almost 4 years ago


Doloris Rahier

Peter, I fully agree with your comment. Everyone knows that they are trading their information for fast service, but at least find ways to do it after the first prompt transaction has been made. Arie, great video point. look at the 'names' that shill on Shopping channels on TV.

almost 4 years ago


Tony Edey, . at RCL Cruises Ltd

For many products 'scale' is a much overlooked factor. We forget that a consumer looking at an image of two toys that look similar side by side may in fact be wildly different sizes. Same for Jewellery and a million other things you could name. We can't touch or experience any physical product online, so the next best thing is to contextualise it, which can certainly be achieved through product demo videos as mentioned in the article. We show clothes on models as standard, so why not other products 'in use' too?

For reducing cart abandonment, I can't think of a better example than Amazon 1 click. Basket? What basket....?

So many other techniques for driving conversion available too - social proof, scarcity/fear of loss/stock levels/timers, offers, associated recommendations, personalisation, wishlists, discount notification, 'back in stock' notifications, remarketing, live chat, (much of this can be done in the basket/checkout process too to drive up AOV) etc etc

Seamless cross-device shopping is a huge 'need' in today's world too with so many people moving between devices daily.

almost 4 years ago

Philip Docherty

Philip Docherty, Marketing Executive at SaleCycle

Great article Arie ;-)

As you've already mentioned, there are endless reasons for cart abandonment - In fact, research shows that around 70% of consumers will abandon their shopping carts this year alone. Scary!


And with a projected $3 Trillion up for grabs, your probably wondering what else can be done to win back your customers?

- On-Site Remarketing: For those who are not familiar, OSR is a feature that allows your website to display real-time messages throughout the checkout process to consumers who show abandonment intent.

- Email Remarketing: Whether it be from 2 minutes to 48 hours, the consumer receives a personalised email remarketing message with the content of their shopping basket and with the option to return and ‘Complete the Purchase’ at their convenience.

Both practices are proven to significantly reduce cart abandonment, I hope this helps ;-)

almost 4 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Actually it's closer to 90% of people who abandon

Of the 100% of people who visit a typical site:
* 39% express an interest in a product
* 12% put a product in their cart
* 4% of them end up buying

Your figure ignores the about 2/3 of visitors who express an interest but don't happen to click the cart button. I know it's a figure that marketers often use, but really it's just an artifact of how eCommerce software happens to be implemented.

If you look at all the people who express an interest (39% of visitors), compared to the 4% who buy, you'd see that the true abandonment figure is much larger at around 90%.

This is why it's vital for eCommerce stores to do both browse and cart abandonment, so they target all their visitors who express interest and don't miss 2/3 of them. See here for more details:

And how to design abandonment recovery emails:

almost 4 years ago


Carly Barnes

I completely agree with Pete's comment 'the single best way to reduce cart abandonment is speed up your checkout process'. Our clients find that address lookup in their checkout is a great way to speed up and simplify the checkout/booking process as well as improve conversion rates.

However, its not just retail brands that should be looking to improve the checkout. I've read a stat recently that the online abandonment rate for the travel industry is above that of retail and could reach 81% by the end of this year, I'm not surprised as I've spent my recent lunch hours trying to find a hotel in London for a short family break, its just too frustrating. Some travel and hotel brands are seriously lagging behind when it comes to ecommerce and the user experience.

almost 4 years ago


Dave Harris, Job Title at SMD

Pete, you're right - there are different ways to calculate abandonment.

1. Basket abandonment - when a customer commits to the checkout process without going back to the rest of the site. As a rule, it has lower abandonment rate than site abandonment (see below). Can be fixed by optimising the checkout process and underlying tech - stuff like storing credit cards securely, etc. Basket abandonment emails can be sent to existing customers (because we already have their data) and new customers who have managed to fill in their email address (field scraping).

2. Site abandonment - when the products are in the basket and customer abandons the site. This is a trickier one, but arguably nets more profit. Can be fixed by on-site optimisation (compelling copy, why buy from us, social proof, etc.) and single customer view (Google's Universal Analytics may help). Basket abandonment emails can be sent to existing customers who were either logged in during their session or those existing customers who weren't logged in but we can ID by profiling their footprint (for example, IP + browser + location + other analytics).

almost 4 years ago



One thing you have not mentioned are the sites where the only way of finding out delivery costs is by going through the checkout. Before now I have placed an item in the basket purely to get an idea of delivery charge to enable me to compare with other retailers.

almost 4 years ago


Tony Edey, . at RCL Cruises Ltd

@Carly - I'm surprised the travel industry abandon rates is that low actually. Typically travel purchases involve more price comparing, high price point items that people are less sure about, and generally a more complex product which often requires add-ons (taxis etc), time coordination, suitability for different parties, more consumer information needs capturing at point of purchase, and much more besides.

almost 4 years ago

Ari Shpanya

Ari Shpanya, co-founder at

Thanks for your comments, @Pete. Cart abandonment is a huge issue and it’s important not to forget about those that browse, but never put anything into their cart.

Video is a great resource, @Doloris. Thanks for chiming in.

I agree, @Tony. Making the sales process quicker and using an omni-channel strategy are great ways to decrease cart abandonment.

Thanks for your comment, @Phillip. Email remarketing is a great idea because 72% of cart abandoners will return after 12-24 hours. Learn more here:

@Carly, I completely agree that other industries besides retail also need to simplify and speed up their checkout process. And @Tony brought in a good point about the complexities of online travel purchases.

Thanks for the distinction between basket and site abandonment, @Steve. Both significantly impact sales/profit and should be addressed in order to improve conversion rates.

Thanks for your addition, @Maggie. I agree that upfront shipping costs and times can significantly reduce cart abandonment. More on shipping here:

almost 4 years ago

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