Ecommerce Growth

The #1 Reason Your Customers Abandon Their Shopping Carts


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If you’re a typical eCommerce business, two thirds of your customers will back out of handing over their cash after they’ve filled their shopping cart with your products.

That’s according to research by Invesp, which found only 34.77% of customers go on to buy goods they’ve put in their carts.

Imagine if this happened in the real world. Supermarket aisles would be littered with thousands of abandoned shopping carts.

There’d be total chaos.

Why, then, do people do it online? To answer this question, let’s take a look at the psychology behind how people behave in the real world.

The Power of Social Norms

If you’re anything like me, when you go to the supermarket, you find all kinds of stuff you like the look of, but you’re not 100% sure if you want it. Cookies on special offer, fruit you should buy because you think you should be healthy, a new brand of yoghurt that’s buy one get one free.

Instead of putting them immediately into my shopping cart, I think, “Do I really want this?” Then I make a decision.

It’s rare I’d put anything into my cart I’m unsure about.


Because by the time I get to the checkout, there’s no turning back. There’s a line of people behind me watching and waiting. If I decided to put half my shopping back while the girl at check-out sat waiting for me, I’d be met with sighs, grunts and groans from the people waiting in line behind me.

There’s no such pressure online.

When people are buying online, they can put things in their cart they’re not totally sure about.

When they put something in their cart, they like the idea of owning your product (they may even love it!), but they need convincing it’s right for them.

This means eCommerce retailers have to work especially hard to convince buyers they’re getting what they need at a price that’s right.

All this leads to the number one reason your customers abandon their shopping carts.

Customers abandon their carts because you’ve somehow managed to convince them they’re getting a bad deal.

You’ve put a big flashing red sign in front of them saying “Are You Sure About This?” When you do that, of course the answer is no. You’re meant to be on their side. They wanted you to help them make the purchase, not flag up whether it’s the perfect product for them.

Are you putting up big red flashing signs?

The BIG Flashing Red Sign

To find out if you’re scaring off your customers, you need to know what spooks them.

Number one is asking them to pay for shipping.

Nearly three quarters of customers (73%) say free shipping is important when they’re making a buying decision. Free shipping is more important than offering discounts, loyalty points, time limited deals or free gifts.

When you charge for shipping, you’re saying to customers “Are you sure about this?”, often after they’ve gone through the effort of filling out the delivery address.

Do You Want Your e-Store Littered With Abandoned Shopping Carts?

You have two options:

Factor shipping costs into the price of your products, and you’ll win more customers and boost conversion rates.

Charge customers for shipping, and you’ll find the aisles of your eCommerce stop littered with abandoned shopping carts.

Which would you prefer?

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Written by David Masters

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