Shopping cart conversion, or shopping cart abandonment as it is also known, is one of most important statistics that every ecommerce retailer should be aware of. However, it is also one of the more complex statistics to decipher due to the number of different factors that influence it. While every industry and every ecommerce site within an industry is different, according to a recent study by SeeWhy the generally accepted percentage abandoned carts is 70%. Think about that for just a moment, 70% of all shopping carts generated by an ecommerce site do NOT result in a sale. Once you consider shopping cart abandonment in those terms it is easy to understand why online retailers are so eager to improve their conversion rates as even a little increase results in capitalizing on sales dollars that were just left sitting on the table.

Shopping cart abandonment can be broken down into two general groups: design related abandonment and consumer related abandonment. Design related abandonment would be issues directly related to the function of the site that cause shoppers to leave while consumer related abandonment are issues that impact the rational thought process of the shopper. Relating these examples in terms of a brick and mortar store would be as such; design related abandonment would be a dirty poorly lit store with broken shelves and rude unhelpful staff while consumer related abandonment are prices or surcharges that are too high compared to other stores selling the same type of items.

The most obvious example of design related abandonment is clunky navigation that is difficult to understand; bad search functions would fall into this category as well. A shopper that has difficulty finding the products they want to purchase or locating how to actually check-out is going to lead to poor shopping cart conversion. Unlike a brick and mortar store where shoppers will deal with frustration to find the item they need to purchase in an attempt to get in and out as fast as possible, online shoppers will quickly leave an online store that is difficult to navigate as stores that are much easier to deal with are just a click away.

Much like navigation and usability issues, sites that don’t function correctly also lead to shopping cart abandonment. Today’s online shopper expects online sites to work flawlessly. They don’t want to run into 404 errors, server time outs or general platform issues that give them the impression that the site is broken in any way shape or form. Consumers are very leery of giving their credit card information to broken ecommerce sites as they feel their credit card may be at risk.

Now that we’ve covered some of the design related cart conversion issues lets move on to consumer related abandonment problems. One of the more difficult to determine reasons for cart abandonment is shipping costs. Unless customers provide feedback stating that shipping is the reason they are not making a purchase from the store determining if that is the reason for poor cart conversion takes in-depth research and comparison of other retailers in the same market to determine if there is a disconnect in what the competition is doing regarding shipping costs compared to the retailer. Generally, the shipping cost for a shopping cart is not calculated until the shopper is in the check-out process. Shoppers reach a point in their check-out where they discover what it is going to cost to ship and reconsider the purchase when there $100 purchase is going to cost $150 after shipping and they abandon the cart in search of lower shipping costs someplace else. The online retail industry itself has also created a secondary problem related to shipping in the fact that shoppers are now conditioned to expect free shipping either on specific items or on shopping carts of a certain dollar amount.

The increase in online shopping outlets has also given rise to some different reasons for shopping cart abandonment over the reason years. In the past, there was a strong trend to online shoppers where they would visit an ecommerce site, place an item in their cart and then complete the check out. Today’s ecommerce shopper likes to window shop by adding items to their cart then abandoning that cart to either compare the same item on a different online store or they leave to take time to think over their purchase.

There is no one solution that will solve all cart conversion issues in one step; it takes research and feedback to determine what is causing a site’s cart abandonment and how to solve it. Once the determination has been made on what the issue or issues are and then a plan can be put into place to help start the process of capturing those shoppers that are abandoning carts. Design related issues can be fixed or avoided by constant testing and refinement of the navigation process. Ask for and review feedback provided by customers; if a trend develops in the feedback of a specific complaint such as the search engine returns poor results then steps to be taken to improve that area of the site. In addition to customer feed back, retailers should constantly be testing their own sites and discussing any issues they find with their web designer or web host. The web hosting an online retailer started with might not be enough to run the site smoothly as traffic and sales increase.

Dealing with consumer related abandonment also takes research and testing but it also requires the retailer to be proactive in getting people who have abandoned carts back to the store or preventing shoppers from leaving in the first place. In-cart specials such as free shipping, discount upgrades or other such promotions can help keep customers from “window shopping” if the specials create a feeling within the customer that they are getting a deal that they must act on immediately. Even with in-cart specials and call-outs that create a sense that the customer must buy now, there is still going to be shoppers that abandon the cart. Studies by SeeWhy have shown that the more time that passes since a shopper abandoned their cart the less likely they are to return and complete the sale. One of the most over looked areas to improve cart conversion is by following up with abandoned carts. Emails sent to abandoned cart customers can help determine why the cart was abandoned and attempt to draw those customers back to complete their sale. The first email needs to be service oriented to determine if the customer encountered some sort of technical difficulty in completing their sale, followed up later with incentive based email to bring back the person just window shopping. However, great care must be taken with incentive based emails to avoid training the customer to abandon their cart in order to get a better deal.

In closing, by digging into your store’s shopping cart conversion percentage and the reasons why it is happening, you can make adjustments to recapture those abandoned sales and increase revenue. Interested in learning more or discussing ways to help improve your sites cart conversion rate? Contact Six Demon Studio, we have experience in this area and would love to help you improve your business!

Roger (36 Posts)

In addition to being a cigar enthusiast, Roger is an accomplished graphic designer & marketer with extensive experience dealing with ecommerce and online marketing.