Conversion Optimization

10 Under-utilized ways to reduce shopping cart abandonment

70% of shoppers leave their cart without buying. How do you stop this? Here are 10 under-utilized ideas to prevent shopping cart abandonment. Check it out.

10 Under-utilized ways to reduce shopping cart abandonment

The eCommerce industry has become extremely competitive. Despite the US eCommerce stores spending $23.50 billion every year on online advertising, buyers can get distracted while shopping online. 

On average, 69.89% of shoppers will add something to the shopping cart but end up leaving without buying anything, leading to shopping cart abandonment.

The average conversion rate for eCommerce websites is a dismal 2.86%. Chances are — you’re grappling with this problem as well.

So, in this article, we will cover the A->Z of shopping cart abandonment - what is it? Why does it happen? And 10 unconventional ways to reduce cart abandonment for your online store. 

What is shopping cart abandonment?

In very simple terms, when a visitor browses the store , adds their favorite product to the cart but leaves without checking out. 

This is one of the biggest challenges that eCommerce founders face today. One thing to keep in mind is that this is different from a typical bounce off. In case of a bounce off - a visitor lands on the page and immediately leaves without any activity. 

However, a cart abandonment is when a visitor browses your website, performs the activity of adding something to the cart and then leaves. This could be because of many reasons - not voluntarily as well. 

Let’s find out what are these reasons. 

Why do customers abandon their shopping carts?

Why do customers abandon shopping carts?
Source: Baymard

1) When they have to create a new account

Over 20% of the visitors don’t complete their checkout because of the need to create a new account on your checkout page. 

When they are forced to do extra steps , they get frustrated and drop off. But this doesn’t impact the visitors buying experience as much as others on this list. 

The easiest way to solve this problem is to have a guest checkout process or an option to log in through google or facebook. Something like this:

Guest checkout option

2) Looking for other alternatives - leaving to do some research

Not every reason for cart abandonment has something to do with you or your website and brand. Many visitors like to look around and find the best option that suits their budget and wants. 

A simple and obvious way to avoid this - have a product comparison chart to provide the benefits of your products over other options. 

Here is a simple example of the same: 

example of product comparison chart

3) Your store crashes mid way 

Website errors and loading issues seem very trivial - every store experiences it at some point. 

But these bottlenecks can tarnish the visitors buyer’s experience and cause them to lose trust on your site, especially if they’re visiting for the first time. 

To solve this problem - run a full site audit using free tools like Screaming frog to identify Multiple redirect loops + responsiveness + HTML tags - anything in the code that needs fixing. 

In case you want to improve your on-site experience, You can run a CRO audit using ConvertCart’s.

4) Shipping ain’t fast enough 

While cost is a more important topic for a customer, the wait has a major impact on the experience. 

So, if you don’t offer express shipping or it takes more than a few days - customers are bound to look elsewhere. 

Whether it's at an extra charge or not - try to offer a faster delivery option. 

5) Your return policy isn’t a fan favorite

New visitors tend to look at this before buying from you. If you don’t have a very favorable return or refund policy - chances are that they’ll find it hard to trust your brand. 

So, at least when you are starting out - avoid keeping a cap on your return and refund policy. This makes the buying decision easier for the customer and paints a good picture about your customer service. 

6)  Where’s the discount code?

Nearly 10% of the visitors say that they leave because they can’t find the discount code. 

Everyone is looking for the best price possible. Discount codes are hard to keep track of. This can frustrate customers and cause them to look for better prices.

A quick fix to this problem is to clearly link to all your coupon codes along with the pricing information. Here’s an example. 

easy browsing of discount codes

7) They are worried about security

A pretty obvious reason, if someone is worried that they will lose their money - they won’t go ahead with the purchase. 

This feeling is influenced by either a bad experience on the site previously or by other elements such as design flaws, outdated layouts, missing images, missing SSL certificate and lack of multiple payment options. 

Ensure that your trust seals and logos are recognizable. A majority of consumers are likely to abandon their shopping carts, either because the trust logos were missing or because they did not recognize them.


SSL Badge

Ensure that the logos are recognizable. A majority of consumers are likely to abandon their shopping carts, either because the trust logos were missing or because they did not recognize them.

Just by getting a few elements right, you can reap the benefits of improving sales and retaining customers. These elements can go a long way in combating cart abandonment and bettering revenue.

8) Checking out is more tedious than it should be

As you can see in the image above, almost 30% of the visitors stated this as the reason for abandoning the cart. 

Ofcourse, asking them to create a new account or asking them to add their address every time they buy something can be annoying. 

complicated checkout process

Take a look at Macy’s — they use two clickable buttons for customers to choose, between checking carts and proceeding to checkout.  

easy navigation macy's

Minimize the number of clicks and page views. Be it reviewing the cart or double-checking the products, an easily accessible and omnipresent cart button allows the buyers to move around with utmost ease. The cart button also serves as a prompt for a customer to complete the purchase.

9) Surprised by a bigger cost while checking out

1/4th of the audience cited shipping fee as the reason to bounce off the site. But other than the shipping fee, they are surprised with other charges such as taxes, packaging fee etc. 

The failure to display these prominently is the biggest mistake - causing a loss in major revenue opportunities. 

details of cost at checkout

10 Unconventional ways to tackle cart abandonment

1. Why make them look? (Auto apply discounts on checkout)

Make life easy for your potential customers. Rather than having them snoop around for discount codes and sales, apply the best offer at the checkout page to avoid them bouncing off. 

If you are running a store on Shopify, here’s a video detailing how to enable this feature on Admin.

The same can be enabled for freebies as well. Say you want to provide a product B for free on purchase of product A. Here’s how you can do that:

On your Shopify admin, click on Discounts > Create discount > Automatic discount.  

Under Automatic discount title - add a name for the coupon, could be something like Freebieforthemonth

Under Types > Buy X get Y.

In the Customer buys section, set up the following.

  • Choose Minimum quantity of items or Minimum purchase amount.
  • Set the quantity of items or the min amount to spend 
  • Under Any items from section, pick if you want to include products or collections as the qualifying criteria for the free product
  • Add products or collections to the promotion. 

In the Customer gets section, here’s what you do.

  • The first few steps are the same as in the Customer buys section
  • In the At a discounted value section, add the discount amount/value. Or select Percentage and enter a rate. If you want to offer items for free, then select Free.
  • Under Set the maximum number of uses per order , enter the maximum number of times that this promotion can be applied by a customer.

2. Spend smart of Retargeting (Weed out the low-performing Ads)

Retargeting ads aren’t anything new. But it costs a lot of money and effort in running them and driving these abandoned visitors back to your site.

If you’re not generating the ROAS you expect, take a look at the ads you're running, identify which ones have generated the most traffic back to your site and the largest conversions. 

This is easier said than done - requires a lot of manual work. An easier way is to run an analysis of your ads using tools like PPCgear. This tool runs a thorough analysis of all your Ads and provides insights on what’s working , what isn’t and how to fix them.

The suggested quick fixes to optimize your retargeting Ads will bring down the potential loss in revenue and make Ads a more reliable avenue to drive long term conversions. 

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3. Draft cart recovery emails that are different and not boring 

Sending out cart abandonment emails has become a common practice. The open rate for such mails are almost 50% with a 6.5% CTR. 

But, as we all know, the recipient's inbox is crowded with such emails and a lot more other emails from online brands. 

The key to stand out is to tackle 2 key areas - the subject line (yes they are important) and the body of the email. 

Here are a few tips when drafting the subject line: 

  • Avoid being too direct like “Complete your checkout to get your product”. Keep room for some curiosity
  • Use humor to grab their attention. Here’s an example from Abercrombie & Fitch: You’ve got this one in the bag (literally). It gives readers a chuckle and keeps them interested in what you have to say. 
  • You can use emojis to add a bit of personality to your subject line but make sure not to go overboard. 
cart recovery subject lines with emojis
  • Avoid leading with generic offers like “Free shipping”. Instead offer a dollar based discount - it drives higher open rates and CTRs.

These are just a few best practices to keep in mind. There are a lot more you can try with cart recovery subject lines in order to win customers back. 

When it comes to the actual email, here are a few best practices:

  • Keep the tone very courteous and cordial. You don’t want try something funny and come off as condescending,

  • Provides more alternatives to their selected product - more colors or versions, this keeps them interested if they change their mind about what they want.

  • Design your email to replicate the cart page of your website - it creates recall.

  • Be witty than salesy with your pitch.
madewell's cart recovery email

Here are more examples of smart cart abandonment emails to inspire you.

4. Keep talking to customers through the buying process

Give your customers a seamless browsing experience by integrating customer support services.

As soon as buyers reach the checkout page, they often tend to have doubts related to the refund policy, the payment procedure, or the quality of the product.

Take the level of care and attention up a notch by offering them immediate assistance through a chat with a customer support representative or allow their queries to be solved over live chat.

Example of using communication to improve cart abandonment

Options like click-to-call, live chat, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) help a great deal to reduce cart abandonment as buyers can shop peacefully without any qualms.

live chat support

Make the shopping process an interactive one.

Casual messages like ‘Don’t we’re almost there’ and ‘One step and you’re done’ encourage the customers to go the whole nine yards.

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5. Site crash? All you need is funny error message 

Yes, you certainly need a developer watching your site’s uptime and keeping a check on your store’s vitals but sometimes, for even the biggest websites, things can go south. 

What can you do to keep the visitors on your site? - A funny but assuring message helps

Madcloth's funny error message

Take a look at Modcloth - they display a really witty message. 

What’s great about it?

  • A really fun copy 
  • A character that adds to the personality of the message
  • Redirection to other pages / products while they get it fixed

6. Pitch smaller % but higher $ discounts

As per a study by Klaviyo, the revenue generated from emails that pitched a 5% off was higher than those that pitched a 25%+ discount. 

Taking this data into consideration, when you create your popups or landing pages, try pitching a smaller discount to drive more checkouts. 

However, when it comes to dollar based discounts , the greater the better. This is due to the nature of the discount.

When you say flat $50 off, it's a fixed amount - regardless of the amount. But with percentage discounts , the higher rates would usually be associated with a greater minimum cart value. 

7. Highlight IMPORTANT details of your refund policy in a few words

Everyone talks about clearly showcasing your refund/ return policy or the link to those pages. However, no one has the time or patience to read the whole thing and take a call.

Instead, try summarizing the whole thing in 2-3 lines and mention what matters on the checkout and product pages.

example of short refund policy

Here’s a great example - only what matters to the customer with a link to view the whole policy. 

8. “Save for later” exit-intents 

There’s nothing better than saying something engaging to your users — just when they’re about to leave.

But gifs, discounts and sales are all generic and overused. 

A more personalized option is to ask them to “Save for later” by signing up. This is an easy way to get their email and engage with them. 

This will also be compelling to the visitor as it's more relevant to them and not too pushy. 

Here’s an example of this practice: 

save for later exit intent

9. Let them know WHY?

According to Baymard Institute, 61% of a group of survey respondents complained that many ecommerce websites ask for information that seem unnecessary or too much. 

You might have a very solid reason for asking for their contact number or alternative email address etc. but visitors need to be abreast of that. 

Below is a simple way of doing this. 

providing details for every form field


This helps remove any fears that visitors may have on shopping from your website. 

10. Be clear about all costs at every relevant page

According to a study by Statista, 56% of customers abandon the cart due to unforeseen expenses.

Once a buyer adds a product to the cart, he/she will not like to witness a jump in the amount. So, don’t keep your customers in the dark.

Avoiding hidden costs can reduce cart abandonment

Be upfront about all costs - shipping charges, taxes, and other probable fees. This way, the user will know what they are getting into.

You can also provide multiple delivery options to allow them to anticipate the full cost of the product. Amazon offers express delivery and relaxed delivery - customers according are able to estimate the full cost, preventing any shock while checking out. 

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