When you sell products online the one thing you will always have is online shopping cart abandonment. According to research the average over the last ten years is about 68%, and looking closer to 75% for research done in the first half of this year.

So what causes online shopping cart abandonment? What can you do to limit the number of buyers who abandon their carts?

In the last 10 years, online shopping cart abandonment has gone up but so have the number of people shopping online. There were far fewer people online ten years ago, the number of people willing to purchase online has increased dramatically and the number of businesses with an online presence has gone up as well.

So lets’ go over a number of the different reasons someone might abandon their cart, why and what you might be able to do to change that. I'm going to compare the online cart to a an old school, in real life grocery store shopping cart for some comparisons on what you should and shouldn't do.

Deceiving Cost of Product

Sometimes people add products to the cart and then the total cost because too much so they abandon the cart. These problem increases if you are not clear about  the cost of a product, or list the wrong price on the page. When you go shopping you do not want to pick up and item just to get get down to the cash register and find out that the product was more expensive than what was listed. Make sure all your prices match up from your website to the cart to checkout. Do not deceive or spring anything on your buyers or you will lose them at checkout and maybe forever.

Shipping Cost and Confusion

When a buyer goes to purchase something they are more likely to purchase if they know what price to anticipate. When you are shopping at a store, you know what your local sales tax is so you know what you are going to be charged beyond the price of the product, but what if the store had an extra charge and you were not sure what it was until you went to checkout? Like wise when buying online people do not want to be surprised with a lot of extra cost. I would suggest using a flat shipping rate based on number of products and location have a page on your website setup that buyers can go to, to see what your shipping rates are. Better yet, include shipping in your costs or advertise was for buyers to get free shipping (say, if they purchase more than $50 or $100 worth of products).

Requiring an Account

Imagine if you will, you go to the store, pick all the items you want and then go to checkout but before you checkout, you have to create an account with the store, or fill in a form to prove that you have an account allowing you to shop at that store. You probably would not be enthused. Many buyers abandon their cart when they feel like they are jumping through too many hoops. After all, many online shoppers are going online because it is easier and takes less of their time than going out and shopping around.

Complex Checkout

Some shopping carts make it so you have to login, then you need to agree to the store's return policy, then you can finally pay for your items. Or, even worse, you go and do all your shopping and then head to checkout, only to have to spend time searching for where in the store the checkout option is. Checking out should not be complicated. Your buyers should be able to go from the cart, to checkout with ease. Go through your own checkout process (and the checkout process on your competitors’ websites) to see if it is complex and irritating or easy, breezy. If the latter describes your checkout process, you are sorely in need of a redesign.

Limited Payment Options

Finally, you find the checkout, you've agreed to the terms of service, signed up for an account, now you are ready to pay, but they only take Discover. You want to offer people multiple options if possible. At a brick and mortar store that means, cash, different types of cars and maybe checks. Online that means something like PayPal and a direct credit card checkout option.

So, what can you do if someone does abandon a cart? 

Many people will tell you to e-mail people who have abandoned their cart to try and lure them back, but is that really a good idea? Think about it, you decide to go to the grocery store on the way home from work one day, you start adding items to the cart and then realize you left your wallet at home that morning. Because of that, you decide to go home and then go to the store closer to your house. A few days later you get a letter from the first store asking what they can do to bring you back, how they can make you happy... that could be annoying to someone.

Really the best way to avoid cart abandonment is to address the above five issues first and foremost and then determine if an abandon cart email makes sense for your business. You will never be able to eliminate cart abandonment completely, it will always be there, but if you make the process simple on your buyers, it will eliminate people who abandon the cart due to complexity of the making a purchase.

Have tips for avoiding online shopping cart abandonment? Tweet them to us! Good Luck and Good Sales. 

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