Every ecommerce site relies on its ability to attract traffic and get the most customers possible to complete an online purchase. After all, that’s where your revenue comes from. But what about the people who window-shopped, and put a bunch of items into their cart, but never actually completed the purchase? These visitors aren’t just lowering your conversion rates and potential profits. They’re also causing lost sales, and probably making you wonder: Why didn’t these cart abandoners follow through, and what can you do about it?

Your shopping cart has abandonment issues

A shopping cart is considered abandoned when customers put things in it but then, for whatever reason, choose to leave your site before buying anything. Reducing shopping cart abandonment is important for every ecommerce store, but it’s also ubiquitous. Shopping cart abandonment rates are estimated to be between 70 and 80 percent, and the average cart abandonment rate is higher for mobile shoppers than those on desktops. 

Online shopping cart abandonment is a sign that online shoppers were turned off by something about your online store: often it's something about the checkout flow that tripped them up. If you can figure out what the obstacles are in your checkout experience, or make a complicated checkout process a bit simpler, boom: you should see a better conversion rate and higher sales. An SMS marketing platform like Emotive is a great tool for reducing shopping cart abandonment and improving sales. Our customers tell us that shopping cart recovery text message campaigns yield high return on investment, largely due to implementation of effective shopping cart abandonment strategies.

How to calculate your shopping cart abandonment rate

Your shopping cart abandonment rate is a key business metric to watch because it impacts your sales conversion rate, which in turn impacts revenue. Wondering how to calculate your shopping cart abandonment rate? Here’s how to figure out this metric as a percentage of the total carts created at your site. 

  • Take your total number of COMPLETED PURCHASES for a given time period (say, a month)

  • Divide that number by the number of CREATED SHOPPING CARTS in the same time period

  • Then, subtract this number from 1

  • Finally, multiply the number by 100

If you’re a math nerd, your equation for calculating your cart abandonment rate would be = 1 – (completed purchases ÷ created carts) x 100. And if you’re not a math nerd and prefer an example with actual numbers, here you go:

150 completed purchases ÷ 600 created shopping carts = 0.25
1 - 0.25 = .75
.75 x 100 = 75 percent: shopping cart abandonment rate

Why shopping cart abandonment matters

If you have an ecommerce business, you’re probably familiar with the abandoned shopping cart phenomenon. But just because it’s very common doesn’t mean you can't reduce cart abandonment. You CAN address cart abandonment, and it’s absolutely worth the effort. Here’s a quick example to show you why. 

Let’s pretend you’re doing about $12,000 in ecommerce revenue per month. Per the example above, you’ve calculated your cart abandonment rate to be 75 percent, because you average about 600 shopping carts created every month but only 150 shopping carts with completed purchases. If you can reduce cart abandonment by converting just 15 percent of those 450 abandoned carts, you could recoup an extra $5,400 in what would have been lost revenue every month. 

There are several causes for a higher-than-average shopping cart abandonment rate: a complicated checkout process, unexpected shipping costs or lack of shipping options, failure to offer the most popular payment methods, or hidden costs. Often the reason customers leave is a poor user experience: your site speed causes slow load times, you require account creation instead of offering guest checkout, The most common thing customers do after they abandon their cart while shopping online at your site is visit other online retailers and complete purchases at a competitor’s store. Unfortunately, this not only decreases your revenue; it lowers your brand value. Next time they're buying online, whose site do you think these shoppers will visit: yours, or your competitor’s?

Don’t worry: you absolutely can overcome these obstacles and reduce shopping cart abandonment by deploying some essential cart recovery strategies.

5 common reasons for shopping cart abandonment and cart recovery strategies

Here are some of the common reasons for shopping cart abandonment, along with suggestions for how to optimize your shopping cart experience and reduce your cart abandonment rate.

1. You don’t offer free shipping

It’s hard to deny that we’ve all become accustomed to free shipping (Thanks, giant ecommerce retailers!) So when customers get to your checkout page and see high shipping costs or unexpected shipping costs, many of them will simply check out of your check-out process. In fact, cart abandonment statistics show that more than 60 percent of consumers admit they’ll resort to cart abandonment if they think the shipping fees are too high (and for many, “too high” is anything above zero.)

How to offer shipping incentives

Every ecommerce business has different margins, and free shipping simply may not make sense for you. But you might consider offering a promo or coupon code for free or discounted shipping, especially to shoppers who spend above a certain threshold. One effective way to reduce shopping cart abandonment is to target customers who’ve left your ecommerce store without purchasing anything, and automatically text them a shipping promo code within minutes of them abandoning their cart. This can increase the odds they’ll return to complete their purchase. Our customers tell us that being able to segment shoppers based on cart abandonment and incentivize them with a customized text message is one reason they love using Emotive.

2. Your shoppers don’t see the urgency of buying right away

All online shopping is going to attract window shoppers; that’s just a fact of life. More than 40 percent of shoppers abandon their shopping cart because they don’t “feel ready” to purchase. You need to increase shoppers’ intent and desire to purchase immediately if you want to move them from idle browsing to completing the checkout flow. 

How to create shopping urgency

One classic tactic to reduce shopping cart abandonment, if you have the shopper’s email address, is to email them a reminder (perhaps with some incentive like a coupon code) to return to their shopping cart and complete their purchase. If you don’t have the shopper’s email address yet, there are other ways to flag visitors by cart abandonment and encourage them to return to your checkout page. For example, you might consider a retargeting ad with a limited-time offer incentive. Or you might use an exit intent overlay, a pop-up that appears when a visitor is trying to leave your site. An overlay with a free shipping offer or limited-time discount code can increase conversion rates and order value. 

If you’ve sent shopping cart emails in the past then you know they tend to have a higher open rate than ecommerce marketing emails overall; but it's still only a 6 percent conversion rate. By contrast, ecommerce stores using Emotive to have two-way texting conversations with online shoppers see 17% improvement in their abandoned cart recovery rates. One reason is that 95 percent of text messages are read within 5 minutes of being received, and 70 percent of American shoppers say they’d like to receive offers from their favorite businesses directly on their phones. So next time, instead of a shopping cart abandonment email, consider a shopping cart abandonment text. It's a more effective way to respond to the shopper’s initial interest quickly and drive a sense of urgency.

3. Your brand or store lacks credibility

First-time shoppers may be hesitant to buy your products if they’re unfamiliar with your brand or uncertain about the quality of your products, warranty, return policy, or customer service. Credibility is important because it affects a customer’s perception of value, or the satisfaction they feel about a product given the price they paid. More than a quarter of shoppers say they abandoned their carts while shopping online because they were searching for the best deals and wanted to compare prices at a competitor’s site. 

How to build credibility

One of the quickest ways to build credibility is through third-party validation. It’s human nature to care what other people think, so an effective way to earn the confidence of new shoppers is to show them how happy your past shoppers feel about their purchases. Validation could be as simple as a retargeting ad: you might present your target audience with an advertisement that features a customer quote or testimonial, for example, or share a glowing statistic about your reputation or customer experience scores.  

Another way to build credibility is to make sure your prices are competitive. Too high for the same perceived value and shoppers will go elsewhere; too low, and they might perceive your quality to be lower, too. Unexpected costs when making online payments will cause many visitors to abandon their shopping cart in the middle of your checkout flow. Comparing your prices with your competition and ensuring that your marketing reinforces the value your customers receive will boost your reputation and drive sales. 

4. Your checkout process is too complicated

In an age of instant gratification, a lengthy checkout process is the fastest way to lose potential customers. The more screens a shopper has to pass through to check out at your site, the higher the chance they will abandon their cart. 

How to simplify your checkout process

To create a seamless checkout experience you want to collect as little information as possible as quickly as possible. That might mean offering a guest checkout option, for example, so people don’t have to create an account. Or it might mean letting customers log into their existing accounts with an SSO login, so that they have access to multiple payment options or digital wallets. And if your ecommerce partner offers a simplified or “one-click” payment option, make sure you’re helping customers take advantage of it. 

Your checkout process is also a great place to do A/B testing. There are lots of software tools available out there to help you test elements like load times, text fields, or page layout and checkout flow order. Find out what customers prefer by creating two different versions of your checkout process (or even just screens within the checkout process) and splitting traffic to them. Then implement the version that performs better across all your traffic.

5. Your site doesn’t offer a great user experience 

Web page glitches, buttons that go nowhere, slow-loading images, and a lack of payment options: these technical issues can degrade your site’s user experience so much that they drive shoppers away. It takes just seconds to lose a potential customer because of poor checkout UX, and much longer to win them back. Over time, poor UX can harm your brand.

How to improve your UX

Customers expect sites that are fast, intuitive, and efficient. They also expect a checkout experience that’s seamless: between your store and checkout, between their desktop and mobile devices, and between product questions and tech support inquiries. 

Wondering where you’re losing shoppers? First, make sure you’re spending enough time on your own web pages to put yourself in visitors’ shoes. That way you can better catch errors, identify improvements, and fix lags, broken links, and inconsistencies. Make sure your mobile site experience is as good as the desktop version, especially if your mobile traffic is more than 50 percent of your total. Use retargeting as a way to incentivize customers to return to your site. And consider an SMS marketing platform like Emotive that can intelligently discern between product inquiries and tech support issues, so shoppers can get their questions answered in a reasonable timeframe and proceed through the checkout process.

Wrapping it up

Shopping cart abandonment is a common phenomenon for every ecommerce business, but it doesn’t have to be such a frustrating one. By deploying some of these strategies you can learn why shoppers leave your site and optimize your marketing to build better relationships with them. Doing this won’t just help you  reduce shopping cart abandonment and recapture that missing revenue; it can also help you increase your conversion rates, lower your customer acquisition costs, and improve your marketing ROI.

Looking to win back your customers through cart recovery emails

Ready to reduce your store’s shopping cart abandonment rate with an SMS campaign? Schedule a demo today.