Only 3% of visitors to a website make a purchase — it sounds astonishing, but it's simply one of the realities of ecommerce. There's one segment of shoppers, however, that has a real impact on your bottom line: the nearly 70% of people who add a product to their cart but leave before completing the checkout process.

Abandoned shopping carts are worth an estimated $4.6 trillion worldwide, but some of this revenue can be recovered. In fact, the average website can increase its conversion rate by more than one-third with a few simple adjustments, according to Baymard Institute.

Ready to give your sales a lift and create the foundation for loyal, repeat customers? Let's look at the top reasons customers abandon their shopping carts and practical solutions you can put into action right away.

What is Cart Abandonment and Why is It Important?

Cart abandonment occurs when a customer adds a product to their online shopping basket and leaves without buying it.

This happens for a variety of reasons. Some people may have stumbled onto your site through your content marketing efforts or social media ads and are still learning about your company. Others may want to compare the shop and read reviews before deciding to purchase. However, some customers make a genuine attempt to complete a transaction but encounter friction, like extra costs or a confusing checkout that causes them to give up.

Research shows that 35% of abandoned carts can be recovered, making this segment of customers key to improving your site's conversion rate.

Calculating a Cart Abandonment Rate

To determine if you're losing customers because of user experience on your website, calculate your cart abandonment rate. This figure tells you what percentage of customers add an item to their basket but don't complete the checkout process. A higher than average rate indicates there's an obstacle keeping them from purchasing.

To calculate your business's abandoned cart rate, you need the following figures:

  • A) Total shopping carts that completed checkout.
  • B) Total shopping carts created for the same period.

Divide A by B and multiply by 100 to determine the percentage of carts converted. Subtract this number from 100 to get the percentage of carts that didn't convert, or your abandoned cart rate.

Comparing Your Cart Abandonment Rate to Average Cart Abandonment Rates

Once you've calculated your cart abandonment rate, compare your site's performance to others. An average of 70% of all shopping carts are abandoned, but there are variations by industry.

In the retail sector, average cart abandonment is just under 73%, according to Optinmonster. There's also variation in abandonment rates by product:

  • Clothing: 40%.
  • Technology: 18%.
  • Home: 16%.
  • Jewelry and accessories: 6%.
  • Food: 4%.

Top 5 Reasons Shoppers Abandon Their Carts

Even if your site is performing according to the industry average, there's likely plenty of room for improvement. The average ecommerce website has 39 ways its checkout flow can be improved to keep customers moving through the conversion funnel.

Let's take a look at the top reasons customers abandon their cart and some of the solutions that can give your sales a lift.

1. Extra costs are added on.

Unexpected costs can be a deal-breaker for customers who think they're scooping up a bargain or are already feeling stretched by the cost of an item. Expenses that are added on at checkout, like shipping, handling, and taxes, cause 50% of customers to leave a site. Another 18% are frustrated when they can't see the total cost of a purchase up front.

Solution: Be transparent about costs.

Make detailed information about shipping, taxes, and other fees clear during the shopping process to ensure customers aren't surprised at checkout.

Shoppers who view their cart, for example, may appreciate a handy calculator that provides a shipping estimate based on their zip code. This is helpful because shipping tax varies per state.

Strategic reminders can also be added to product pages. Take a look at how clothing brand Cutter and Buck includes shipping fees on each product page. In this case, customers are welcomed by the surprise of free shipping.

2. They're asked to create an account.

After devoting time to browsing a company's product inventory and choosing items in the right size or color, customers want to complete their orders as quickly as possible. Baymard reports that 28% of customers are frustrated when they're forced to register for an account to buy something.

Solution: Provide a guest checkout.

Don't give customers a reason to abandon their cart. A prominently displayed guest checkout option keeps customers focused on completing the purchase. Solo Stove makes guest checkout the default and provides a login option for those who already have an account.

3. The checkout process is long and complicated.

Customers who reach the checkout stage of a shopping journey want to make an effortless purchase. Requiring shoppers to complete multiple fields and complex forms interrupt the checkout flow and causes more than two out of ten shoppers to back out of a transaction.

Solution: Streamline checkout and keep it all on one page.

The average checkout contains 13 fields, but an optimized design consists of as few as 6 to 8 fields. In some cases, financial or insurance companies may require more detailed information, but most checkouts can be streamlined.

  • Eliminate unnecessary fields like salutations or phone numbers.
  • Provide drop-down menus or auto-fill to reduce data entry. These fields can populate with a tap.
  • Use a checkbox to indicate if billing and shipping addresses are the same to save time re-entering information.
  • Set up an auto-save capability, so items are still in the cart when shoppers return.

Take a peek at water bottle retailer LARQ's checkout form. The shipping section is streamlined to eight required fields with the option to have billing and shipping addresses the same.

4. Delivery is too slow.

The excitement of making an online purchase can quickly vanish if there's a lengthy wait to receive the product. Nearly two out of ten customers abandon a cart because they think shipping timelines are too long.

Solution: Give customers a variety of delivery options.

Some customers may need an item right away or have higher expectations for delivery speed because of the Amazon effect. Try introducing a selection of shipping options so customers can receive their items when needed. A rewards or loyalty program that enables customers to redeem points for free shipping or delivery upgrades can also encourage the completion of transactions.

Take a look at the approach of fashion brand Natori. Customers are given an option of standard and express shipping at checkout to customize their experience. Ordering cut-off times are clearly outlined to avoid confusion.

5. They don't trust the site with credit card information.

And now, the final step of completing a purchase: entering financial information. Even after successfully reaching this stage, 17% of customers give up because they decide they can't trust the website.

Solution: Use trust symbols to reassure customers.

Research shows that displaying security icons and badges can inspire a customer to feel more secure on a website, even if the site is technically sound on the back-end. These symbols are especially important in the section where customers input credit card information.

Remove any doubt about your site's security by providing visual cues:

  • Seals from SSL certificate vendors.
  • Trust badges from third-parties about a business's legitimacy.
  • Padlock symbols and text indicating a checkout is secure.

Norton, Google Trusted Store, BBB Accredited, and McAfee are the badges most trusted by consumers.

Baymard Institute also notes that layout glitches can make a site seem insecure, so make sure your site renders well on all platforms and devices.

Begin Optimizing Your Store to Prevent Cart Abandonment

Every website has different reasons for cart abandonment, so it's essential to determine what's not working for your particular business before you implement changes. Here are two ways to get started.

1. Analyze user behavior for issues.

An analysis of traffic to your site can pinpoint where you're losing customers. Follow a customer's path through your site. Do they leave after they're asked to create an account or when they see the total cost of their order? Are your customer engagement strategies effectively impacting the purchasing process?

Knowing when cart abandonment occurs is key to determining what adjustments need to be made to boost sales.

2. Gather customer feedback.

The best way to know your ecommerce site is working is to get feedback directly from the people who use it.

Consider setting up an exit overlay that pops up when customers are leaving your site. It can include a message that says you're sorry to see them go and a survey to ask why they're leaving. The pop-up can also offer a free shipping or promotional code to entice customers to complete their purchase.

Customers who made a purchase are an excellent source of feedback. Businesses can automate a thank you email after an order has been placed with a survey, asking how they found their experience. An incentive on their next purchase can encourage them to provide input.


A digital shopping basket full of items quickly becomes a lost opportunity when a customer leaves behind their cart and navigates away from a website. Unexpected costs, mandatory account creation, slow delivery times, complicated forms, and concerns about security all contribute to cart abandonment.

The average business can recover up to 35% of abandoned carts by analyzing customer behavior to see when abandonment is occurring. Transparent information about costs, guest checkout, multiple delivery options, trust badges, and streamlined forms are simple adjustments that can keep customers in your conversion funnel.

By capturing revenue from abandoned carts, you can boost your sales and start creating a client base that can eventually become your best VIP customers.

This is a guest post by Leigh-Anne Truitt from the SEO team at BigCommerce where she researches and discovers strategies to increase organic traffic. Prior to joining the ecommerce industry, Leigh-Anne perfected her marketing skills at The University of Texas at Austin and CanIRank.