7 Simple Strategies to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

What is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Since the earliest days of online shopping, high cart abandonment rates have presented a major challenge for ecommerce. As you may know, approximately 70% of users who add items to their online shopping cart leave without completing a purchase. Obviously, this is a huge problem for retailers and their conversion rates – but why exactly does it happen?

Why Do Online Shoppers Abandon Carts?

Sky-high cart abandonment rates are a riddle that ecommerce has grappled with for decades. Even though huge innovations have taken place in online retail over the years, the cart abandonment rate has remained virtually unchanged.

This circles us back to the initial question: Why do so many users leave their orders behind? While an easy answer would be nice, research shows it’s due to a confluence of factors.

Shipping Charges + Account Registration

A recent study from the Baymard Institute found that full 50% of abandoning users left because of shipping charges. While many sites view shipping costs as a necessary evil, many users vehemently dislike them.

In a similar vein, many users abandon because they don’t want to create an account. While sites obviously need some information to successfully fulfill an order, for many, creating an account feels unnecessary, cumbersome, and ultimately, seems like too much of a hassle.

Buyer Uncertainty/Cold Feet

Many shoppers enter an ecommerce transaction with a certain level of uncertainty baked into the equation. The inability to see/touch/hold a product before buying it can raise doubts for even the most leveled-headed shoppers. In addition, price sensitivity can be a major barrier – prices that seem totally reasonable in the moment can feel very high when they’re added all together at checkout.

Speaking of checkout – have you ever noticed how much longer it takes to check out online than it does a physical store? While an in-person register transaction generally takes just a minute or two, it’s not uncommon for ecommerce checkouts to take between 5 and 10 minutes. While this is understandable given the amount of information a site needs to carry out the order, it’s this moment of truth (or, more accurately, 5-10 minutes of truth) that often spells the end for online transactions.

The “Window Shopping” Effect

Picture yourself grocery shopping. Have you ever filled your cart with essentials and then simply walked out of the store without buying anything? In absence of an emergency, it’s hard to imagine this scenario regularly unfolding. However, there’s a reason most people don’t leave grocery carts behind: they’re high-intent shoppers.

Most people go into a grocery store with the explicit intention of buying groceries – in other words, we’re shopping with high intent. While we might put a couple items back, very few of us will simply walk away from our cart.

On the other hand, online shopping is low-intent by nature. While physical shopping takes effort, shopping online doesn’t even require users to leave the couch. Additionally, many use online shopping as a way to alleviate boredom, rather than doing it as a dedicated activity.

7 Strategies to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

Now that we’ve discussed why cart abandonment happens, let talk about how you can prevent it in the first place. While every site and audience is different in terms of what users respond to, all of these strategies have been thoroughly tested by the team at UpSellit and have been proven to reduce shopping cart abandonment.

1. Optimize Your Product Pages

Ecommerce product pages have a tough job. They need to entice users while accurately conveying product information, all while answering questions before they’re asked. A page that fails in any of these essential functions is unlikely to convert users effective – so how can you optimize your product pages?

Keep Text Short and Sweet

When creating a product description, it’s vital not to let your desire to sell outshine the actual product information Keep the tone of your descriptions consistent with your overall brand voice.

In addition, make sure to include product specs – height/width/shipping weight, etc. Using those stats and creative language, paint a picture for the consumer about the product. Short, concise, accurate descriptions tend to see the best results./

Focus on High Quality Images

When selecting product images, the goal should be to leave nothing to the user’s imagination. The goal of a product page is to make the user feel as comfortable purchasing as they would be in a physical store.

While less is often more when it comes to copy, provide as many pictures as necessary to give the user the full picture.

Reviews (social proof)

Customer reviews are one of the best ways to instill shoppers with a sense of confidence. This kind of social proof is invaluable to retail, as 84% of shoppers trust reviews as much as they’d trust a friend’s recommendation.

If you’re having trouble gathering reviews for your products, this is a great time to begin a lifecycle campaign.

2. Let Shoppers Edit Carts

Many customers use their cart as a place to store items they simply want to save for later. However, there’s a key design flaw on many sites that creates a problem – the inability to edit a cart.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a coffee table. You find 3 you like, and add each of them to your cart so you can keep track of your options. After further consideration, you decide on one – only to find out that you can’t remove the other two choices.

While this may sometimes encourage users to buy more, it often has the opposite effect. The fact is you don’t need 3 coffee tables, and now you’re frustrated. If you have to start all over again, you may just throw up your hands and decide you never really needed a coffee table to begin with.

While these issues seem small, minor in-cart inconveniences can be extremely frustrating for consumers and costly for brands. By allowing for in-cart changes until the final stages of checkout, you’re giving shoppers flexibility that they will appreciate.

Offer to Save Carts for Later

No matter what strategies you use, some shoppers simply won’t be ready to convert on their first visit. This is especially true for shoppers on mobile devices, who may be more easily distracted, or may not have immediate access to their payment information.

An excellent mitigation strategy for this scenario is to simply offer to save a user’s cart for later. To use this tactic, ask the user to enter their email address, which will allow you to recreate their cart in their inbox.

This solution allows users to complete checkout whenever they’d like from any device. In addition, this is an excellent way to bolster your list and remarketing efforts.

Guest Checkout

7 Simple Strategies to Reduce Shopping Cart AbandonmentGuest checkout allows users to quickly complete an order and create an account later.

When a shopper orders from you, it’s natural that you want to get to know them. However, while there’s some information you have to gather, like their physical address and payment information, it’s easy to go a bit overboard. In fact, many ecommerce sites require users to create an account on the site to proceed with their order.

While this may seem perfectly sensible to a business, users often see this as a major inconvenience, especially for those who are shopping on a mobile device. Ideally, a site should put as few barriers as possible between shoppers and conversion.

Guest checkout provides a happy medium that’s good for everyone – shoppers can skip the lengthy signup process while still offering everything that’s required for the order to be shipped successfully. You can even give users the option to create an account after their order is over.

Simplified Checkout Form (accordion, one page, etc)

Now that we’ve established why guest checkout is a good idea, it’s important to ensure that the checkout process is fully optimized.

Although checkouts have, as a whole, gotten a bit shorter over the years, they still average about 5 pages. While this may not seem like much, it can feel endless for a user on a mobile device.

One Page Checkout

Many merchants have found success by simply putting the full checkout form on one page. While this may seem like a lot of information, shoppers appreciate not having to navigate through multiple pages to finish their order.

This is also a great opportunity to evaluate the information you require from users. For example, do you really need their phone number to complete their order?

7 Simple Strategies to Reduce Shopping Cart AbandonmentOne-page checkout prevents users from having to navigate through 5+ pages to complete their order.

If you’re not already, consider saving users’ payment information for faster checkout in the future. Each of these strategies will ameliorate problems associated with checkout abandonment.

Accordion Checkout

Another popular option is “Accordion Checkout” – a one page checkout that expands and contracts sections as they’re completed. This allows for better organization, improves clarity, and can appear less daunting than a traditional checkout page.

Each of these solutions helps reduce friction created by the checkout process.

7 Simple Strategies to Reduce Shopping Cart AbandonmentAccordion checkout helps users quickly advance through the process.

Payment Options

Another common cause of abandonment is a lack of available payment options. While most ecommerce transactions happen via a debit/credit card, additional options can help ease customer concerns from privacy to price sensitivity.


Paypal allows customers to pay for their items without having to enter their credit card information directly on a site. This payment option has grown in popularity among consumers with privacy and security concerns.

Payment Plans

Companies like Affirm offer financing that allows users to buy immediately and pay over time. Unlike a credit card, these small loans don’t impact a user’s credit score, and often offer interest rates lower than a typical credit card.

Some of UpSellit’s clients have seen success by offering Affirm financing on abandonment. This can mitigate price sensitivity without necessitating an additional incentive.

Free Shipping

Let’s be honest – nobody likes paying for shipping. However, shipping fees hold a special place of contempt in the hearts of consumers.

The reasons for this are more psychological than rational. People resent paying for shipping because it feels “tacked on” – even if the fee is more than offset by other offers on your site.

Fortunately, there is a bright side to this peculiarity. Because consumers tend to overvalue the cost of shipping, they absolutely love getting free shipping. Of course, businesses don’t really want to pay shipping costs for every order, so how can we square these two facts to create an optimized conversion strategy?


One of the best ways to make free shipping profitable is to implement an incentive threshold. For example, one popular choice is to offer free shipping on orders over $ 50. You can complement this strategy with a gamified progress bar that shows users how much more they need to unlock free shipping.

This method actively increases AOV by encouraging users to add more to their carts, all using a relatively inexpensive incentive that’s highly valued by shoppers.

Combatting Shopping Cart Abandonment

Across our industry, shopping cart abandonment remains extremely high. However, by actively engaging users, adapting to their preferences, and using incentives strategically, you can significantly reduce abandonment rates and dramatically increase revenues.

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