How to avoid an abandoned shopping cart

How to avoid an abandoned shopping cart

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Abandoned shopping carts aren’t necessarily negative. Visitors quit their carts for many reasons. They may be competitors checking out your site, or consumers comparing prices and finding out your trading policies. Equally, customers may use your site and then place the order by telephone.

On the other hand, shoppers may quit because they find your checkout too complicated, or because they can’t find a next-day delivery option. The following tips will help you minimize unnecessary abandonment, and encourage consumers to complete their purchase and to buy again.

Most importantly, build trust and more trust

Provide your contact details throughout the site, including a telephone number and physical address. Promote confidence, respond quickly to emails, and answer the telephone professionally. Independent customer feedback is looked at later – this can be a great trust builder too.

Keep your site simple and easy to use

Divide the site into logical sections, with clear navigation links and a link to the home page on every page of the site. People generally expect navigation links at the top, left and optionally bottom of the page. Give full information with each product. Provide a search facility. And make sure that customers can get from home page to ‘Buy now’ button in the minimum number of mouse clicks.

Communicate your shipping costs early in the transaction

Everyone hates surprises on cost. If the customer proceeds to checkout and decides the postage is too expensive, you have lost the sale. However, to justify a single postage charge, a customer may buy more than one product.

Explain your guarantee and returns policy

A rock solid guarantee goes a long way to persuading people to buy. You must explain the distance selling regulations 7 day right of return in any case, so why not make this a strong selling point? Note that if you do not inform customers of their right, their rights are automatically increased by law.

Describe your terms and conditions

When people can’t find information, they tend to assume the worst. Go out of your way to provide comprehensive buyer friendly information. Make your site one that you would like to buy from.

Explain your privacy policy

Provide a clear statement about how customer’s data will and won’t be used. A clear statement that customer data will not be passed to third parties except to complete the order process will help a lot.

Explain your security and encryption process

The best way is to use a Payment Service Provider (PSP) which will have gone through rigorous certification process. You can then state that no card data will be stored on your site. You can also purchase a security certificate (SSL Certificate) for your site and which will give you the golden padlock when people check out. Your ISP or web host can advise you how to set this up.

Categorise your site content into attractors (what people like) and detractors

For your own planning purposes, try to minimize detractors (ad pop-ups, need to register before buying and so on) and at worst balance them with attractors.


Different site layouts and options can have dramatic and unexpected impact on sales. For instance, one site reported a 20% increase in revenue after they added PayPal as a payment option. Another reported a 50% reduction after they prominently added the ability to input a voucher during checkout. People who did not have vouchers were obviously put off. Experimenting is important because each site will have slightly different visitor demographics – meaning that the people who visit different sites will behave differently. So you need to do your own trials.

Remember customer service is key

Encourage repeat business by going out of your way to meet customer needs. A happy customer will tell his friends, but an unhappy one will tell anybody who will listen.

Be available

If customers cannot find out what they want to know from your site, they may try to get in touch with you. If they are unsuccessful, they will expect the same difficulty if they ever have a problem with an order – and they will go elsewhere.

Market to abandoned carts

If your ecommerce solution can support this, contact people who have supplied their details and then abandoned their carts. There can be many reasons why people have abandoned their order, including technical problems, running out of time, or issues of trust. Many businesses have found that this strategy can lead to significant increases in order volume. Contact can be by phone or email, and may involve an incentive to complete the order.

Analyse your sales funnel

Look at every step in the process from arriving at your site to completing the checkout. Understand where people are dropping out and brainstorm ideas for correcting the problem. Then test alternative approaches and measure again so you can retain what works.

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