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.