Conversion Optimization

Why Are People Adding To Cart But Not Buying?

Let’s dive into the reasons why people are adding to cart but not buying in detail.

Why Are People Adding To Cart But Not Buying?

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18 reasons why customers are adding to cart but not purchasing

Picture this: a potential customer browses through your website, adds items to cart, but then abruptly exits without completing the purchase. 

It's a scenario that leaves most online store owners scratching their heads and wondering, 

"Why are customers adding to cart but not purchasing?" 

Here’s a snapshot of reasons from a Reddit thread with the query - Why do customers abandon their cart?

Reddit - add to cart but not checking out customers reaching checkout but not buying high add to cart low conversion why do customers abandon carts

Let’s dive into the reasons (including the reasons from the above post) why people are adding to cart but not buying in detail.  

18 reasons why customers are adding to cart but not purchasing

1. Window Shopping

In the digital landscape, browsing has become akin to strolling through a mall. 

People often add items to their carts not intending to purchase immediately but rather as a means of bookmarking or saving items for future consideration. 

Just like in physical stores, online shoppers enjoy the thrill of exploring options without committing to a purchase right away.

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Encourage window shoppers to purchase with visual cues and urgency tactics. 

✅ Create a welcoming environment where shoppers can save the cart, save products to their wishlist, or share it with their friends and family for second opinions.  

2. Price Comparison and Research 

With many online retailers at their fingertips, consumers are more inclined to conduct thorough research before making a purchase. 

Adding items to the cart allows them to compare prices, read reviews, and explore alternative options. 

This phase of the buyer's journey is crucial for informed decision-making, even if it means abandoning the cart momentarily.

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Assure shoppers they get the best deal by offering a price-matching guarantee directly on the checkout page

✅ Display a clear statement indicating that if they find the same item at a lower price elsewhere, you'll match it, instilling confidence and encouraging them to proceed with their purchase.

3. Web Rooming

In the dynamic landscape of online commerce, a fascinating trend has emerged—a phenomenon known as web rooming that’s also known as ‘research online, buy offline’. 

Unlike its counterpart, showrooming, which involves browsing in physical stores before purchasing online, web rooming flips the script, with consumers researching products online before making their purchase in-store. 

However, the echoes of this behavior resonate throughout the digital realm, manifesting in the form of abandoned carts. 

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Provide information about how returns are handled, including any associated costs or restocking fees, to set clear expectations and minimize surprises after the purchase is made.

✅ Offer how-to videos, product demonstrations, and buying guides that showcase the features, benefits, and uses of your products.

4. Unexpected Costs at Checkout 

One of the primary reasons for cart abandonment is the revelation of unexpected costs during the checkout process. 

Whether it's exorbitant shipping fees, taxes, or hidden charges, such surprises can deter even the most enthusiastic shoppers. 

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Include all applicable costs, such as taxes, shipping fees, handling fees, and any additional charges, prominently displayed on product pages or in the cart summary.

✅ Provide a shipping calculator or estimator tool where customers can input their location and see the estimated shipping costs for their order.

5. Complex Checkout Process

A lengthy or convoluted checkout process is a surefire way to lose customers. 

People crave convenience and efficiency, and any friction in the transactional experience can lead to abandonment. 

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Implement guest checkout options so shoppers can check out faster.

✅ Enable free shipping thresholds where customers qualify for free shipping once they reach a certain order value.

6. Lack of Clear Promotions

When shoppers reach the checkout page and encounter a lack of clear promotions.

It may lead to disappointment or disillusionment, undermining their perception of value and reducing their willingness to complete the purchase.

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Use eye-catching colors, fonts, and graphics to draw attention to the promotion and ensure it is the first thing customers see when they land on the checkout page.

✅ Display a last-minute promotion or offer in the pop-up window to encourage customers to reconsider and complete their purchase.

7. Distractions and Interruptions

Life happens, even during online shopping. 

Whether it's a phone call, a notification, or a crying baby in the background, distractions can divert attention away from completing a purchase. 

In such instances, the items in the cart are often left behind temporarily, to return later, which doesn't always happen.

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

Enhance the online shopping experience with virtual try-on tools and augmented reality (AR) features for potential customers. 

This way people can visualize products in their environment or experience them virtually before making a purchase decision.

8. Security Concerns 

In an age where cybersecurity threats loom large, trust is paramount for online consumers. 

Fears of data breaches, identity theft, or fraudulent transactions can prompt individuals to hesitate at the final step of checkout

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Offer reassurances with secure payment gateways, SSL encryption, and trust badges to help alleviate these concerns and foster trust with customers.

✅ Display trust seals and certifications from reputable security providers on the checkout page to reassure customers of the security measures in place. 

Also read: eCommerce Shopping Cart Optimization: 50 Brilliant Strategies

9. Impulse Buying 

Sometimes, the decision-making process takes time. 

People may impulsively add items to their carts, only to reconsider their choices later. 

Factors such as buyer's remorse, budget constraints, or changing preferences can lead to hesitation and ultimately, abandonment. 

How to improve high add-to-cart low conversion rate:

✅ Retargeting strategies, such as personalized emails or targeted ads, can gently nudge indecisive shoppers back toward completing their purchase.

✅ Offer instant cashback rewards applied automatically at checkout. Impulse shoppers will appreciate the immediate savings, increasing the likelihood of completing their purchase.

10. Lack of Urgency or Incentives 

Incentives such as limited-time offers, discounts, or free shipping can create a sense of urgency and motivate customers to complete their purchases promptly. 

Without such incentives, individuals may postpone their buying decision indefinitely, allowing items to languish in their carts. 

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Clever marketing tactics that leverage scarcity and exclusivity can instill a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) and prompt action.

✅ Highlight the exclusivity of being among the first to access special deals or limited-edition products, creating a sense of privilege and urgency.

11. Technical Glitches and Poor User Experience 

A seamless and intuitive user experience is fundamental to eCommerce success. 

Technical glitches, website errors, or slow loading times can frustrate users and drive them away. 

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Conduct regular A/B testing on the checkout page w.r.t pricing strategies, CTA copy, and more. 

✅ Solicit feedback from customers to identify and rectify any issues that impede the shopping experience.

12. Lack of Payment Options 

On checkout pages, if shoppers don’t see multiple payment options then it can significantly impact your revenue.  

How to improve high add-to-cart low conversion rate:

✅ Provide alternatives such as credit card, PayPal, or installment payments to accommodate window shoppers and make the checkout process more convenient for them.

✅ Enable one-click checkout so shoppers can purchase without adding information.  

You'd like to read: Converting eCommerce Window Shoppers Into Customers: 17 Practical Ideas

13. Lack of Trust in the Brand or Product 

Trust is the bedrock of any successful transaction. 

If customers need clarification about the authenticity, quality, or reliability of a brand or product, they're unlikely to proceed to checkout. 

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Build trust through social proof such as reviews and testimonials to instill confidence and foster loyalty.

✅ Offer responsive and accessible customer support options, such as live chat, email, or phone support, on the checkout page. 

14. Mismatched Messaging 

Consumers are enticed by the compelling narrative presented in an ad—they arrive at the corresponding landing page with certain expectations. 

However, when these expectations are not met, and the messaging on the landing page fails to mirror the promises made in the ad, it breeds confusion and dissonance. 

The disconnect between expectation and reality erodes credibility, prompting consumers to hesitate before proceeding with their purchase or abandoning their carts altogether.

How to improve high add-to-cart low conversion rate:

✅ Maintain a consistent brand voice and tone throughout the checkout process, aligning with your brand's identity and values.

✅ Ensure that any promotions or discounts mentioned on the checkout page are consistent with the promotions you advertised.

15. Too Much Clutter

The checkout process is where shoppers transition from browsing to purchasing. 

However, when the checkout page is cluttered with unnecessary form fields, intrusive cross-selling prompts, and confusing shipping options, it creates friction in the transactional experience. 

The cognitive load of navigating through a cluttered checkout page detracts from the sense of ease and convenience that consumers expect. 

As a result, despite having items in their carts, consumers may abandon their purchase if the checkout process feels overwhelming or intrusive.

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Use a single-column layout for the checkout page to guide customers through the checkout process in a linear fashion. 

✅ Combine similar elements, such as shipping and billing address fields, into a single section to streamline the checkout form and improve usability.

16. Lack of Cross-Selling Opportunities

To minimize distractions and streamline the checkout process, eCommerce stores should prioritize conversion-focused elements on the checkout page.

It can elements like order summary and payment options, over cross-selling opportunities.

How to improve your add-to-cart to checkout rate:   

✅ Leverage customer data and browsing behavior to deliver personalized cross-selling recommendations tailored to each customer.

✅ Present bundle discounts or package deals on the checkout page, where customers can save money by purchasing multiple related products together. 

17. Misplaced and Unclear CTAs

One of the most common pitfalls on the checkout page is the misplacement of CTAs.

When CTAs are vague or ambiguous in their language or intent, it leaves users uncertain about the action they're supposed to take next. 

Unclear CTAs, such as generic labels like "Continue" or "Submit," fail to convey the specific action or outcome associated with the button, leading to hesitation and indecision. 

How to improve high add-to-cart low conversion rate:

Provide clear, descriptive CTAs that articulate the intended action and its implications. 

For example, "Proceed to Payment" or "Complete Purchase" CTAs can help online stores empower shoppers to navigate the checkout process confidently and decisively.

18. Slow Page Load Time

Cart abandonment is a persistent challenge for eCommerce merchants, with slow page load time cited as a common culprit. 

When first-time shoppers experience delays during the checkout process, they may grow impatient or apprehensive, prompting them to abandon their carts. 

Optimization tips for when customers abandon carts:

Leverage browser caching to store static resources, such as images, CSS, and JavaScript files, locally on users' devices. 

This allows returning visitors to load the checkout page more quickly by retrieving cached resources instead of downloading them from the server again.

2X Your Checkout Conversions

98% of visitors who visit an eCommerce site—drop off without buying anything.

Why: user experience issues that cause friction for visitors.

And this is the problem ConvertCart solves.

We've helped 500+ eCommerce stores (in the US) improve user experience—and 2X their conversions.

Our conversion experts can audit your site—identify UX issues, and suggest changes to improve conversions.

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