Today, we’re going to tell you a story straight out of Hollywood:

“In a world where e-commerce spending continues to grow, and online shopping knows no limits…

… conversion rates everywhere are facing a threat…

… cart abandonment.

Now, a hero will step forward and illuminate the path to maintaining strong conversion funnels when it matters most.”

In the opening scene, we see a sprawling, golden e-commerce landscape where online spending is intensifying and worldwide B2C e-commerce is expected to grow 20.1% this year to reach a colossal $1.5 trillion. Zooming in on Europe, online shopping has become commonplace, with 61% of European Internet users making an online purchase in 2013.

But not everything is as rosy as it seems in the land of e-commerce.

Despite consumer familiarity with buying online, and despite growing global spend, there’s a destructive force at play, preventing online retailers from reaching their full sales potential: shopping cart abandonment – a darkness that creeps up on consumers in the final stages of purchase, driving them away from their carts and smothering conversions. It’s happening all around us, even to the biggest and the best: 67% of all shopping carts are abandoned, left in the dark (comScore).

As the plot thickens, let’s study our villain to see what we’re up against:

Every year, abandoned carts worldwide represent nearly $4 trillion in lost revenue for online retailers – but of which 63% is potentially recoverable.(A happy ending ahead?)

Not only do cart abandons represent a loss of potential revenue, they also represent a loss on acquisition investment. Brands invest huge budgets and efforts into capturing consumers and drawing them into the conversion funnel, and cart abandons sneak in and sabotage these efforts at the eleventh hour.

Why is it happening, and what can you do?

Three major reasons consumers abandon their carts are:

  • Price (unexpected costs, overall price too high),
  • Poor user experience (complicated website navigation, website crashes, lengthy checkout process), and
  • Payment friction issues (excessive payment security checks, concerns about payment security)

These dark influences are far-reaching, affecting even the largest online retailers.

But like all self-respecting Hollywood storylines, true to form, there’s a hero who can save the day – digital analytics. Digital analytics keeps a vigilant watch, carefully tracking cart abandon rates and measuring their impact on KPIs. Digital analytics gives us access to powerful metrics – like potential sales turnover, or abandon rate per product or per conversion funnel step – that reveal the fuller context around cart abandonment, and help us fight the problem.


Thanks to these indicators and the rich insights we can pull from them, we’ve put together some tips for avoiding the common cart abandonment roadblocks:

Price: Avoid suspense – spoilers are good

  • Visitors may be turned off by discovering unexpected costs at the last minute. Let them know up front exactly how much they’ll be paying, and what they’ll be receiving for that price – costs are easier to accept when you know what you’re getting.
  • Quick win: Make sure the total amount due is prominently displayed on your checkout pages – including the payment page. Customers should be able to see their total in a split second, and know what it includes (like tax, shipping, or processing fees).
  • Go a step further: Next to the total, show even more detailed information justifying the extra fees or shipping rates. For example, indicate the delivery date for the type of shipping selected, and remind customers that this type of shipping is safe and fast. If they’re paying for a gift wrapping service, for example, include a line describing your special wrapping and reassuring them of the quality packaging for their item(s).
  • Are visitors adding items to their carts only to see what the shipping costs or delivery options would be – and then abandoning?
  • Quick win: Make it easy to find a page that spells out your shipping options and prices, and delivery times. Feature prominent links to this page so visitors can find this information quickly.
  • Go a step further: Integrate a calculator for shipping cost and delivery time based on the customer’s zip code.

User Experience: Play to your audience

  • Some first-time customers might want to make a quick purchase from your site without having to create an account, share personal details, and remember yet another password. Forcing would-be customers through a lengthy and demanding account creation can be a big turn-off. They just want to buy – don’t make it hard.
  • Quick win: Limit the number of required fields in your account creation form. For example, only ask for a mailing address when it’s necessary, like on the shipping page.
  • Go a step further: Consider offering anonymous guest checkout to let users purchase without creating an account. Also, consider using a longer-lasting cookie that auto-populates ID and password fields. Facilitating sign in with cookies creates a more streamlined purchase experience for those who log into or create their account, leave their basket for an hour or two, then come back to pay.
  • Don’t take for granted that users need to be directed: Never forget the value of clear and directive navigation. When visitors have decided to purchase, they want to know the next immediate steps. Money in hand, they’re ready to pay – so make it clear and make it quick.
  • Quick win: Once users are in the process of paying, you can eliminate any unnecessary exit links (like “What’s new” or “Our brands”) from the checkout pages. They’re there to wrap up, so don’t distract them.
  • Go a step further: Clearly outline the next steps in the checkout, and show customers where they are using a breadcrumb trail. For example, if your checkout process contains 5 steps, always show the customer where s/he is (“Step 3 of 5”), and what’s left to do.
  • Today’s consumers use multiple devices to browse, research, and buy – so make sure the checkout experience is great on all devices.
  • Quick win: Incorporate “responsive design” principles into your regular site to enhance its usability on tablets and phones. Favour a simple layout that automatically adjusts according to users’ screen widths. Study your digital analytics reports to know which device manufacturers and models and screen resolutions are most common among your visitors.
  • Go a step further: Offer a separate, mobile-dedicated site for on-the-go customers, paying special attention to your mobile checkout process and its form fields.

Payment Friction: Keep the action flowing

  • Whether the “friction” is due to technical errors, customer doubts about your site security, or confusion about payment options, the goal remains the same – simplify the process and reassure customers.
  • Quick win: If users encounter a payment error, provide an alternate way for them to contact you and complete their order (via phone, email, chat, etc.).
  • Go a step further: If you respond to refused payments or incorrect card numbers with an error pop-up, be sure to tag this pop-up. This will give more visibility into how many site exits at the payment level were due to refused payments, and how many were due to errors.
  • Did you know that “alternative payments” (everything outside of credit or debit cards) account for 22% of global e-commerce transactions – a total of €165B (according to global payment processor WorldPay)? Don’t miss out on any business due to lacking currency or payment options.
  • Quick win: Offer as many different types of payment options as you can (credit card, bank transfer, PayPal, checks, gift cards, etc.).
  • Go a step further: Do you sell in other countries? Consider what the most popular forms of payment are in your target markets, as they very may well be different from the ones you’re used to.

The end?

Keep in mind that in many cases, cart abandons simply play a part in the complex customer journey, like comparison shopping: 37% of abandoners say they were just browsing. So just because they abandon now doesn’t mean they won’t ever come back. In these cases, using retargeting ads or email reminders can effectively encourage your visitors to come back and convert.

The moral of this story?

To keep your conversion funnels streamlined and effective, look to digital analytics for clues and insights into what’s working in your checkout process (and what’s not) – your reports hold the keys to a happy ending.



A Silicon Valley native, Ashley has 10 years of experience as a marketing writer and previously worked in B2B digital marketing at Google. She joined AT Internet in 2014 to help create and deploy our international communications in 6 languages. She enjoys distilling complex topics from the ever-changing digital universe into clear, actionable ideas.