5 Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment (and How to Reduce It)

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Here’s a worrying statistic for you: on average, ecommerce stores lose around 70% of their sales to shopping cart abandonment. That’s right – more than half of your potential customers drop out before completing their transactions.

If you want to reduce your cart abandonment rate, it’s important that you understand why your customers are dropping out. Once you know that, then you can take steps to optimize your checkout experience and improve your conversion rate.

In this post, we’re going to help you to do just that by revealing the top five reasons for shopping cart abandonment and how to address them. Let’s get started!

What Shopping Cart Abandonment Is (and Why It Matters)

Shopping cart abandonment occurs when a customer adds an item to their cart but leaves the website before finishing their purchase. It’s a big problem for retailers, as every abandoned shopping cart is another potential sale loss.

If you have a particularly high shopping cart abandonment rate, it can seriously hurt your bottom line. It’s also a sign that something might be wrong with your website, products, or checkout experience.

It’s important to figure out what’s causing the problem so you can fix it immediately. But with many possible causes, this is easier said than done. The best way to get to the bottom of it is to look at your website analytics using a tool like Google Analytics and see if you can identify any drop-off points:

Annotated screenshot of Google Analytics showing the "Exit Pages" screen explaining shopping cart abandonment

If you identify any pages that a lot of customers seem to be exiting on, you might want to take a closer look at them to identify why this might be happening.

5 Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment

To help you to figure out what might be causing the problem, we’ve listed five of the most common causes of shopping cart abandonment below.

1. Unexpected Additional Costs

Often, the price a customer sees on the product page isn’t the same as the price they see on the final checkout page. Many online retailers add extra costs to the final total that their customers weren’t expecting, such as:

  • Shipping costs
  • Payment processing fees
  • Taxes
  • Currency conversion fees
  • Required additional items

This is an obvious problem. A recent study reveled that additional costs ranked as the #1 reason for cart abandonment. Additionalty, 49% of participants said they’d abandoned an online purchase in the last three months due to the extra costs being too high.

The solution to this is simple: avoid including any additional costs in your checkout process. The price the customer sees on the product page should match the final total:

Annotated screenshot of a checkout page showing additional shipping costs

To do this, you might offer free shipping on all products. If that is impractical, you should let shoppers know their shipping costs as early in the checkout process as possible.

2. An Inconvenient Checkout Process

Another common reason for cart abandonment is an inconvenient checkout process. Customers like convenience – they want to be able to transact as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Checkout processes that involve additional steps (like mandatory account creation) can have a negative impact on your conversion rate. In fact, 24% of customers admitted they’d recently left an online store before making a purchase because it asked them to make an account:

A checkout page with options to 'log in and pay' or 'continue as guest'

If you don’t already offer a guest checkout option, you can consider implementing one. This can help to simplify your checkout process and reduce your cart abandonment rate.

3. Slow Shipping

Consumers have come to expect rapid delivery of their products, and aren’t prepared to wait around. As a result, slow shipping is another major cause of shopping cart abandonment.

Around 1/5th of customers report abandoning checkout before making a purchase because the expected delivery date was too slow. If you don’t already offer an express shipping service, you might want to consider adding one. Ideally, you should be offering same or next-day delivery wherever possible:

Checkout page offering multiple delivery methods including express shipping

If you’re concerned about the cost of express delivery, you might want to offer a free standard shipping option, as well as an optional express shipping option for an additional charge.

4. Security Concerns

Security concerns can also deter customers from transacting on your website. 17% of consumers are reluctant to hand over their card details to websites they don’t trust.

There are many potential “red flags” that could be raising security concerns for your customers and causing them to abandon their carts, such as:

  • An outdated website design
  • No SSL certificate
  • Lack of social proof
  • Missing images
  • An unfamiliar brand name
  • An unfamiliar payment gateway

Fortunately, if you think you might be losing sales due to these kinds of security concerns, there are some steps you can take to make your website appear more reputable.

For example, you might want to add social proof like product reviews, customer testimonials, and badges/awards to your product or checkout pages. If you can show your customers that other people have already had good experiences with your website/brand, they'll be more likely to trust you:

Product page showing customer review count and star rating

Another great idea is to offer PayPal as a payment option. Consumers know and trust PayPal to protect their money – it’s a household name that most people have already heard of. As such, 54% of people are more likely to make a purchase when they can pay via PayPal.

Finally, make sure you offer an excellent return policy. This can inspire customer trust and improve sales.

5. The Customer is Not Yet Ready to Buy

Customers who are still “window shopping” may add products to their shopping carts, only to abandon them later. This is usually because they’re still in the research stage and simply aren’t ready to buy yet. They might want to compare their options by browsing other websites first, or they have to wait until they get paid before they can complete the purchases.

You can never entirely eliminate cart abandonment for these reasons. However, you can reduce it by re-targeting customers who have already visited your website, and continuing to nurture them until they’re ready to buy.

A great way to do this is to set up abandoned cart emails that automatically email customers and remind them to complete their purchases:

Shopping cart abandonment email from company "Nomad"

If you go down this route, you can also include tracking links in your abandoned cart emails using a link management tool such as Pretty Links. This can help you determine how well they’re performing.


Cart abandonment is one of the biggest challenges facing online retailers. Figuring out why your customers are failing to transact is the first step to reducing your cart abandonment rate – but nobody said it would be easy.

A good place to start is to consider whether any of these five common reasons for shopping cart abandonment apply to your online store:

  1. Unexpected additional costs
  2. An inconvenient checkout process
  3. Customers who are not yet ready to buy
  4. Security concerns
  5. Slow shipping

Did we miss anything? If you know of any other reasons customers abandon their carts, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Categories: How Tos Advice
About John Hughes

John is a blogging addict, WordPress fanatic, and staff writer.