How to Calculate and Improve Your Ecommerce Abandonment Rate

by Angela Chapa

Last updated on September 19th, 2018

abandonment-rate-introduction

Abandoned shopping carts significantly reduce revenue for ecommerce stores.

An abandoned cart happens when a prospective customer adds products to the cart, but leaves before completing the checkout process.

Fortunately, you can calculate and improve your ecommerce abandonment rate.

The first step is to figure out why abandonment happens. In some cases, consumers just get busy or distracted, but if something about your website turns them off, you want to know about it.

Diving deep into your website data will allow you to pinpoint patterns that might contribute to abandonment rate. From there, you can make targeted changes — and A/B test those changes — for better results.

Let’s look at some of the key factors that influence abandonment rate, then figure out how you can improve your website and generate more ecommerce revenue.

How Do You Calculate Abandonment Rate on an Ecommerce Site?

abandonment-rate-how-to-calculate

Your abandonment rate is expressed as a ratio.

The first number is the number of people completed transactions with their shopping carts, and the second number is the number of people who created shopping carts, adding at least one item, but never completed the transaction.

Comparing those two numbers helps you get a big-picture understanding of how many people add items to their shopping carts and how many go through with a purchase.

A low cart abandonment rate indicates that you’re giving your visitors an awesome user experience. They find your site easy to navigate, and the checkout process makes them feel comfortable.

High cart abandonment rates can signify the exact opposite. However, without testing, you won’t know what factors contribute to your visitors’ frustrations.

Cart abandonment rate formula

Once you have the cart abandonment rate ratio, you can easily calculate the percentage.

You divide the number of completed transactions by the total number of shopping carts with at least one item in them. You then multiply the result by 100 to get the percentage.

Let’s say you’ve had 200 completed transactions this month and 300 total shopping carts created. You divide 200 by 300 to get .66. Multiply .66 by 100 to get 66 percent, which is your cart abandonment rate.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics [2018]

Based on the most recent statistics, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 78.65 percent, which rose from just over 77 percent the year before. However, different sources claim different rates.

Statista shows slightly different numbers when tracking cart abandonment rates over several years, pegging 2017’s abandonment rate at just under 70 percent.

It’s interesting to note the trends, however, since abandonment rates were under 60 percent in 2006. This might relate to the increasing number of ecommerce options available to consumers.

According to Moosend, the cart abandonment rate for the United States is slightly lower than many other regions, but fairly close to the global average.

abandonment-rate-moosend

However, Moosend also notes that marketers who use automation tools experience up to a 50 percent increase in conversion rates.

Why Is My Cart Abandonment Rate So High?

If you’re experiencing a high cart abandonment rate, you’ll want to find the source of the problem. Several factors might influence consumers to leave their carts before they check out.

The following are some of the most common.

Unexpected Costs

When a website visitor gets to the checkout form and discovers unexpected fees, they might click away immediately. It’s a huge turn-off because the expected total amount due has now increased.

This often happens with shipping charges. If you charge for shipping, make that clear on your website pages. You might even tell people what shipping costs so they know exactly what to expect.

Total Cost Unavailable

Your customers want to know exactly what they’ll pay at checkout. If you don’t reveal the entire total — including shipping, taxes, and any other fees — they might get an unpleasant surprise when they reach the end.

Provide as much information to your visitors as possible, and include pertinent details early in the checkout process. That way, nobody feels blindsided when they near the end of the journey.

Account Required

Consumers decide they don’t want to create an account at a website for a variety of reasons:

  • Privacy
  • Full email inboxes
  • Lack of time
  • Uncertainty about the purchase

If you force them to create an account, they might just abandon their carts outright.

Lowe’s allows you to sign up for an account or to check out as a guest.

abandonment-rate-lowe

When you really want that saw blade as quickly as possible, you don’t have to spend the time to create an account. Provide that same courtesy to your visitors to reduce your abandonment rate.

Lengthy Checkout

When presented with a long checkout process, busy consumers often click away. The task seems too big to handle in the moment.

Take a look at your checkout form. Are there any fields you could cut or condense? Or perhaps you could distribute your checkout process over two or more shorter pages to make the process feel less overwhelming.

Confusing Checkout

You also want to make sure you provide clear instructions for each field. For instance, if you ask for your customer’s birthdate, make sure you include an example (e.g. 01/01/1973 or 01-01-1973). The same goes for any entry that demands a certain format.

If you’re using a multi-page contact form, consider adding a progress bar. This helps your customer feel more comfortable with the checkout process. There’s an end in sight!

Website Timeout

You need good web hosting if you want to host a successful ecommerce store. Website timeouts and crashes frustrate consumers as much as they do entrepreneurs, so you don’t want it to happen on your site.

Trust Issues

I’ve talked before about using trust signals and social proof on your websites so consumers feel more comfortable with you.

From having an SSL certificate and posting customer testimonials to including certification badges on your site, these trust signals help boost confidence in your business.

abandonment-rate-trust-issues

No/Unsatisfying Return Policy

If you have a return policy — and you should — make it as accessible as possible. Consumers want to know what happens if they don’t like what you send them, if it arrives broken, or if it’s a gift that someone already has. If you have multiple policies, use a chart like Best Buy does.

abandonment-rate-return-policy

Even if your return policy only lasts for 30 days, let people know. They’ll realize they have a certain amount of time to evaluate the product and decide whether they want to keep it. In your return policy, specify how and when customers will receive refunds.

Lack of Payment Alternatives

Some people don’t like to enter certain types of banking methods online. Similarly, some people have checking and savings accounts, but no debit or credit cards, while others like to use online payment services like Paypal and Payoneer.

The more payment options you offer, the more customers you can attract. Instead of eliminating potential revenue, try adding more payment alternatives to your website.

Long Wait for Delivery

abandonment-rate-long-wait-delivery

Another problem that can cause a high cart abandonment rate is a long delivery period. If your customer wants something in the next five days, but you can’t get it to them for two weeks, they’ll probably look elsewhere.

Finding more efficient delivery systems can help you compete with giants like Amazon that can get products to customers the next morning. While you might not be able to offer that level of service, shortening the delivery period might reduce cart abandonment.

8 Effective Ways To Reduce Your Ecommerce Store’s Cart Abandonment Rate

1. Build trust with your website visitors

As mentioned above, trust is extremely important to consumers. They want to know you take their safety seriously, so you must give them every reason to believe that your site is secure.

Trust badges and seals help, but make sure they’re legitimate.

Reinforce any security policies, such as your refusal to share customer information with third parties.

Your copy can also build trust. When writing information about the checkout process on your site, emphasize your respect for your customers and your desire to keep them satisfied.

Something as simple as encrypting passwords and credit card numbers as your customers type them out can increase trust levels exponentially.

You want to make sure to keep your SSL certificate up-to-date and to add anything that might increase trust further, such as an “A” Better Business Bureau rating.

2. Improve your checkout process

abandonment-rate-checkout-process

There’s no ideal checkout process. It all depends on the product and your target customer.

For instance, short, one-page checkout forms might work well if you run a small ecommerce shop and sell less expensive items.

However, if you’re selling bigger items or if you have several SKUs, you might need to collect more information.

There are also ways to visually shorten the checkout process for smoother sales. Try using a smaller font and larger text boxes. Use drop-down menus for situations that warrant it so your customer doesn’t have to type as much.

3. Make sure that your ecommerce site is 100% optimized for mobile

According to recent data, more than 60 percent of consumers have shopped at an ecommerce site within the last six months on their mobile phones. You can bet that at least some of your target customers use their smartphones to surf your website.

If your site doesn’t use responsive design or a mobile alternative site, you’ll lose revenue. For instance, a non-optimized site will have a checkout form that’s difficult or impossible to fill out on a tiny phone. Most people’s fingers are too large to touch the right places on the screen.

4. Offer live chat

A J.D. Power study revealed that live chat has become the most popular communication method for consumers. They prefer it over email and phone calls as well as SMS.

Plus, more than half of consumers would rather get in touch via live chat than call a support number on their phones first.

What does this mean for your ecommerce site? Adding live chat can help ensure you’re available to answer customers’ questions in real time.

If a customer doesn’t know whether or not to buy your product because of a quick question, you’ll want to answer it. That way, the customer doesn’t leave and buy it somewhere else.

5. Add discounts and benefits

You can use a tool like Hello Bar to prevent abandoned carts by offering a discount or other incentive. For instance, maybe a customer is interested in one of your products, but decides it’s a tad too pricey. He or she tries to click away from the site and sees something like this:

abandonment-rate-discounts-benefits

You’ve overcome the cost hurdle, which might be enough to send the customer back to your site and continue the checkout process.

6. Offer smart upsells

If your customer has more items in his or her cart, the desire to have those items can increase. It’s kind of like shopping in the store. If you’ve filled your carts with three shirts, four pairs of pants, and a pair of shoes, you’re less likely to abandon those items and walk out the door.

If you upsell and cross-sell to your customers, they might fill up their carts with more merchandise.

Not only will this increase your revenue per customer, but it can also reduce your cart abandonment rate. Just make sure that the products you suggest are relevant to what the customer has already looked at or put in their cart.

7. Improve the user experience by watching how visitors navigate your website

Learn exactly how your visitors navigate your website using visitor recordings to pinpoint any obstacles they might face. For instance, if you know that the majority of your visitors abandon their carts after seeing your checkout form, you might need to whittle it down or spread it out across multiple steps.

Similarly, Recordings let you see where users have trouble entering specific information or navigating from one page to the next.

Let’s say you ask for visitors’ phone numbers, but they have trouble understanding the right format. You’ll see them try multiple times — and, at the worst, eventually give up.

Use a user behaviour tool

A user behavior tool like Crazy Egg allows you to generate five different user behavior reports: Heatmaps, Scrollmaps, Confetti Reports, List Reports, and Overlay Reports. Each offers a unique set of information about visitor activity.

Pay careful attention to heatmaps when using a user behavior tool. You want to know where the highest level of click activity occurs.

8. A/B test your call-to-action

Running A/B tests on critical website elements, such as calls-to-action, can give you further insights.

A traditional A/B test presents your website visitors with two different versions of a page. Fifty percent receive one version and the other 50 percent sees the variation. Based on conversion rates, you can figure out which CTA performs the best.

Another type of A/B test methodology is called a multi-armed bandit, and it is the approach that Crazy Egg uses.

In a multi-armed bandit A/B test, traffic isn’t evenly split between variants. Instead higher performing variants receive a higher percentage of traffic and this ratio shifts as more information comes in during the course of the test.

The benefit of this approach is that you never lose traffic on an underperforming variant and your losses are minimized.

Conclusion

A high cart abandonment rate can wreak havoc on your sales and revenue. However, if you’re diligent about weeding out problems and improving the customer experience, you can encourage more consumers to carry through with the checkout process.

I provided eight tips for reducing your cart abandonment rate. Here’s a handy checklist that you can refer to often:

  1. Build trust with your website visitors
  2. Streamline your checkout process
  3. Optimize your ecommerce store for mobile
  4. Offer a live chat option
  5. Add discounts and benefits
  6. Offer smart upsells
  7. Watch visitor recordings and generate user behavior reports
  8. A/B test your CTAs

If you follow those tips, you can enjoy more sales because you’ve removed obstacles throughout the checkout process.

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Angela Chapa

Angela is an ecommerce/online retail marketing expert with many years of ghost writing for the B2C tech space. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

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@CrazyEgg Thanks for no longer truncating naming conventions of exported snapshots. Saves so much time!

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