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Shopping cart abandonment: how big is the threat in e-commerce?

Painful amount of money if left in online shopping carts every year. For an e-commerce business or a retailer with integrated online sales operations, these lost business opportunities mean an existential threat. Trends like webrooming prove that the online customer journey has not completely lived up to customer expectations yet. Ultimately, businesses need to work towards establishing a well-working strategy to turn these trends around, otherwise all the efforts they put into their online experience will be in vain.

The hidden business cost of the e-commerce profit loss

Did you know that around 4 trillion USD worth of merchandise was left in e-commerce carts in 2014? Even if it seems as lost sale at first glance, some part of these commercial opportunities could be recovered. In fact, three-fourth of shoppers say they might plan to return to the website or visit the retailer’s store to complete the purchase (see the prevalance of webrooming).

It is plain to see why omnichannel retailers have an advantage when it comes to reversing shopping cart abandonment. Integrating omnichannel in e-commerce and creating a fusion with physical retail and further channels can help recover abandoned shopping carts or prevent abandonment itself.

We will later explain why it is much more powerful than fragmented solutions, but now let’s take a look at the most important reasons that lead to shopping cart abandonment.

What are the main reasons for abandoning shopping carts?

Several studies have examined the consumer behavior, trying to find an answer to the question why people abandon online purchases. One of the leading reasons is unexpected costs, owing to a lack of transparency. Happily clicking on the Buy button, then realizing how much extra cost was added to the sum to cover shipping fees is a serious turn-off.

Complicated checkout processes, endless order forms, dubious data and payment security or forcing the customer to create an account too early are factors that don’t help either.

But the most surprising, yet plain reason is: in many cases, online shoppers practice shopping cart abandonment because they just wanted to browse! 99% of first time visitors don’t even plan to make a purchase right away! Instead of believing that abandoners are ‘wasting’ the company’s time and resources, businesses should embrace shoppers’ need for live reassurance from a knowledgeable sales person.

The average shopping cart abandonment rate in e-commerce

How big is the threat, actually? According to different sources, the average e-commerce shopping cart abandonment rate fluctuates between a whopping sixty and eighty percent. Two out of three times when an online shopper adds something to their basket, it is left there without completing the checkout. This means that more than one third of the potential business value of online commerce is not realized. In fact, for 2015, the predicted loss reaches five trillion dollars.

Mobile cart abandonment compared to desktop e-commerce

Even if mobile commerce takes up a relatively small percentage of the e-commerce pie at the moment, by 2018 its expected value will exceed six hundred billion dollars. The problem is that its conversion rates are even lower than those of desktop e-commerce, just like the average order value.

Therefore, abandonment is soaring; only one out of ten customer completes the purchase on a smart device. The main reasons are that order forms are much more difficult to use on a small screen and the customer experience often works worse. Responsive, universal solutions that leverage the multi-device customer behavior are the best when combating mobile shopping cart abandonment.

A quick word on how to reduce shopping cart abandonment rate

As experts claim that around two-thirds of abandoned baskets would be potentially recoverable, innovation gains huge importance. There are various tips to help you reduce shopping cart abandonment rate.

What these have in common is that they combat the reasons explained above from a customer-centric perspective. Thinking with customers’ head and even finding ways to analyze their behavior or get feedback from them enables amendments. Is it that the checkout process is too complicated? Is the funnel too long? Or maybe the product merchandising is not exciting enough?

Nevertheless, our general advice is that instead of patchwork improvements on the website, businesses need to rethink their customer experience with an omnichannel approach. A rich, personalized, live customer interaction and showcasing products in more engaging ways contribute to a better purchase experience and to higher conversion rates.

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