12 Essential Strategies for How To Reduce Cart Abandonment

12 Essential Strategies for How To Reduce Cart Abandonment

A Baymard Institute study finds that the average shopping cart abandonment rate for ecommerce stores is about 70%. Yup: 70% of shoppers who visit your store add products to their carts but don’t place an order. What does that mean in terms of revenue?

  • Reducing cart abandonment by 33% is equivalent to growing your customer base by 23% 
  • Completely eliminating cart abandonment (while not feasible) would in theory triple most online stores’ revenue

Reducing cart abandonment may not be easy, but it’s a whole lot easier (and less expensive) than acquiring tons of new customers. Fortunately, most ecommerce websites aren’t yet optimized to keep cart abandonment rates as low as possible. After reviewing the most common reasons why customers choose to abandon their cart, we'll explore 12 such proven strategies that you can use to reduce cart abandonment and increase your store's conversion rate.

What is ecommerce shopping cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment occurs when a customer places an item from an online store into their cart, but navigates away from the website before completing its checkout flow. It's a phenomenon that costs online retailers a lot of potential customers, given that the average cart abandonment rate is 70%. The metric varies across industries, with the automotive industry reporting the highest shopping cart abandonment rate (89.11%), according to Statista.

12 ways to reduce cart abandonment for your ecommerce store

  1. Provide the final cost upfront, including taxes and shipping
  2. Include a status tracker for enhanced UI during checkout
  3. Use a thumbnail image of the product throughout the checkout process
  4. Make navigation between the main website and shopping cart seamless
  5. Offer as many payment options as possible
  6. Invest in a customer support platform with live chat
  7. Create an enticing checkout button or call to action
  8. Include a guest checkout option
  9. Optimize website page speed and UI elements
  10. Incorporate a generous refund/return policy
  11. Consider marketing efforts such as retargeting
  12. Display exit-intent pop-ups

Reducing online shopping cart abandonment is one of the most effective ways for ecommerce sites to increase their revenue, and there are plenty of ways to achieve this goal. If you would like to boost your store's conversion rate and start bringing more customers across the finish line, then here are 12 effective strategies to consider:

1) Provide the final cost upfront, including taxes and shipping

Considering that unexpectedly high shipping costs are the number one reason online shoppers abandon their cart, it's essential to let customers know upfront exactly how much they will have to pay. Of course, this is somewhat complicated because you usually can't calculate shipping costs and taxes until after a customer enters their address. However, setting up your checkout process in a way that calculates final shipping charges as early as possible is key to preventing customers from being discouraged by extra charges.

How to do this

One option for providing customers with a final cost upfront is to charge a flat rate for shipping and taxes regardless of where the customer is located. This allows you to display final costs on your product pages rather than making your customers wait until checkout to see what shipping fees and taxes will be. While this might have a higher upfront cost, reducing cart abandonment could more than make up for the investment.

Another option is to design your cart page or checkout page so that customers can input their address immediately, allowing your system to calculate shipping costs and taxes right away.

2) Include a status tracker for enhanced UI during checkout

Even if you create a quick and easy checkout process, your customers won't know it's quick and easy until they are finished with it. One way around this is to use a status tracker that displays how far along a customer is in your checkout process. Installing a status tracker on your checkout page reassures customers that your checkout experience is fast and simple by showing them exactly how many steps they have left.

How to do this

A checkout app that includes a status tracker is the simplest way to keep customers updated on their checkout progress. Depending on the ecommerce platform that you use and your coding skills, you may also be able to create a checkout page status tracker yourself.


3) Use a thumbnail image of the product throughout the checkout process

There is a certain degree of disconnect between online shoppers and the products they purchase that doesn't go away until the product arrives at their door. However, displaying a thumbnail image of the product that a customer is purchasing serves to remind them of why they added the product to their cart in the first place. This encourages them to see the process through to completion, helping reduce the chance of cart abandonment.

How to do this

Once again, optimizing your checkout page in this manner is done most simply by using a checkout app that allows you to add product thumbnails to your checkout page. Or, if you can't find an app that works for you, a little coding will do the trick as well.

Gorgias customer, Glamnetic, includes product image thumbnails in the cart and checkout page. Plus, they include a countdown to encourage customers to purchase in the next 10 minutes to further incentivize completed purchases.

Glamnetic's checkout page contains thumbnail images to reduce cart abandonment.
Source: Glamnetic

4) Make navigation between the main website and shopping cart seamless

Once customers have added a product to their cart, navigating to their cart from the main website should be as easy as possible. The last thing you want is for customers to have to go searching for your checkout page, so be sure to design your checkout process so that navigation between the main website and shopping cart is seamless.

How to do this

Creating popups that direct customers to the checkout screen once they add a product to their cart is one effective way to make it easy for them to find your checkout page. Another option is to utilize "buy now" buttons that automatically take customers to the checkout page once they select a product.

5) Offer as many payment options as possible

Offering your customers plenty of payment methods to choose from can help reduce cart abandonment in two key ways. For one, it ensures that customers can find a payment method that works for them. For example, if you only accept credit cards and a customer is used to paying online with their PayPal account, they are likely to abandon their cart. In other cases, a customer may not feel comfortable entering their credit card information on your site and will only complete their purchase if alternative payment options are available. By offering numerous payment methods, you can ensure that you accommodate your customers' preferences no matter what those preferences happen to be.

How to do this

Choosing a payment processing solution that can accept various payment methods is the simplest way to offer your customers this level of flexibility. For example, with PayPal, ecommerce stores can accept credit card payments, debit card payments, payments via a PayPal account, and payments via PayPal credit cards.

A collection of payment method logos, like Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.
Source: Gorgias

6) Invest in a customer support platform with live chat

Customer service that can catch customers at critical moments is key to reducing online shopping cart abandonment. Suppose a customer has a question about your product that needs an answer before they feel comfortable completing their purchase. In this case, it's vital to answer their question quickly — before they navigate away from your website. 

With a customer support platform such as Gorgias, you can install live chat widgets on your website that enable customers to instantly connect with a support agent, ensuring that they receive the timely support needed to nudge them toward completing their purchase.

Having live chat ready is especially important when high average order value (AOV) customers are on the fence. Check out our customer story on CROSSNET, a Gorgias customer that once secured a whopping $450,000 through a live chat conversation:

How to do this

Gorgias makes it easy to offer live chat support, letting you provide pre-purchase support directly from your website. To see for yourself how Gorgias can help you reduce cart abandonment via pre-purchase live chat support, sign up for a demo of Gorgias today!

7) Create an enticing checkout button or call to action

Once customers add a product to their cart, you want to make the checkout button noticeable and enticing. Creating attractive checkout buttons complete with compelling CTAs will help encourage customers to take the next step once they've added a product to their cart. You may also wish to add a "buy now" button to allow customers to navigate straight to the checkout page after selecting a product.

How to do this

There are several great apps available that help with checkout button optimization. One Click Checkout is a Shopify app that allows you to create "buy now" buttons and popups that encourage customers to visit the checkout page after adding products to their cart.

8) Include a guest checkout option

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Requiring customers to create an account before they can complete their purchase will make your checkout process too much of a hassle in the eyes of many customers. Instead, offer a guest checkout option. This allows customers to complete their checkout without creating an account, making your checkout process simpler for those in a rush. At the same time, customers that do wish to create an account still have the option to do so.

How to do this

Most ecommerce platforms and checkout apps will give you the option to offer guest checkout, making this a relatively straightforward strategy to execute.

9) Optimize website page speed and UI elements

Most customers aren't likely to have much patience if your checkout page is too slow to load or does not load correctly, making it essential to optimize your site's page speed and the UI elements of your checkout process.

How to do this

There are a lot of tools that allow you to optimize page load speeds, including a great tool created by Google called PageSpeed Insights. Ensuring that you are using an ecommerce platform or checkout solution that offers an optimized UI and fast loading times is also crucial.

10) Incorporate a generous refund/return policy

Customers are much more likely to feel good about purchasing a product from an online store when they are confident that they'll be able to return the product if it doesn't meet their expectations. While offering a generous refund/return policy may be a little difficult to stomach, the resulting increase in conversions is almost sure to be more than worth the expense!

How to do this

Start by writing a refund/return policy that customers will find reassuring, then be sure to display this policy prominently on your product pages, checkout page, or both.

Parachute includes a clear, elegant graphic to show off their free and carbon-neutral shipping and returns:

Parachute's product pages show they offer "Free Carbon Neural Shipping + Returns" to help reduce cart abandonment.
Source: Parachute

Also, to make returns and exchanges even easier for your customers and agents, consider a dedicated app. Our favorites are Loop, Returnly, and ReturnLogic: they’re some of the most comprehensive and affordable apps on the market, plus they integrate with Gorgias for a more centralized returns process. 

Source: Gorgias

11) Consider marketing efforts such as retargeting

Retargeting customers who abandon their cart via cart abandonment emails is one proven way to reduce cart abandonment. Sometimes customers just forget about their order, and all it takes to get them back to your checkout page is a simple reminder. Best of all, many email marketing solutions enable you to create automated abandoned cart campaigns, enabling you to retarget customers with little to no manual effort.

How to do this

Many email marketing tools like Klaviyo and ActiveCampaign make it easy to create automated abandoned cart recovery campaigns. Utilizing one of these solutions is by far the easiest way to get started retargeting customers who abandon their cart.

As far as the copy, check out the cheeky email our friends and Braxley Bands send to customers who leave items in their cart: 

Braxley Bands tries to get customers to return to their carts and make a purchase with a funny follow-up email entitled "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed"
Source: Fuel Made

They also follow this email up with a text message that offers a 15% off discount.

12) Display exit-intent pop-ups

Our analysis of 300 Shopify store owners showed 50% of online stores use website pop-ups to engage visitors. This isn’t surprising since pop-ups can yield a conversion rate of between 3% and 11%, compared to standard rates around 2%.

An exit intent pop-up captures customers with items in their shopping cart, usually to offer more information or a coupon code to convince them to place the order. As long as you respect the user experience (and don’t create an obnoxious, hard-to-escape pop-up), you will likely see lower cart abandonment rates with a pop-up.

How to do this

Your ecommerce platform will have pop-up tools like SmartPopup or Pixelpop available for integration. If you use Shopify, check out our list of Shopify pop-ups for a complete rundown of the best tools.

Why does shopping cart abandonment happen?

There are a variety of reasons why online shoppers choose to abandon their carts. The most common offenders are as follows:

A graph of reasons for cart abandonment. Top three reasons are extra costs too high (48%), needed to create an account (24%), or deliver would take too long (22%).
Source: Baymard

Complicated checkout process

The "Law of Least Effort" is an important part of the customer experience for online businesses, especially when it comes to the checkout process. The more complicated something is, the less likely it is that people will do it. If your checkout process is overly lengthy and complex to the point that it's much easier to just abandon the cart and shop on Amazon, then that's probably what most of your customers will do.

Surprising added shipping costs

According to research from the Baymard Institute, extra, unexpected costs (such as shipping costs or taxes) is the number one reason why customers choose to abandon their cart. This demonstrates how critical it is to keep these costs as low as possible and display them at the very start of the checkout process.

Want to reduce shipping costs? Read our guide on how to offer free shipping.

Requiring customers to create an account before purchasing

Requiring customers to create an account before they can complete their purchase falls under the category of making your checkout process too complex. While it's certainly beneficial to offer customers the option to create an account at checkout, it's also a good idea to offer guest checkout for those who don't want to take the extra steps to set up an account.

Customers don't feel safe with payment options

Even today, when online shopping is a normal part of almost everyone's life, most customers are still rightfully wary about where they enter their credit card information. It's important to build trust with your customers by offering payment methods they already know and trust, such as PayPal and Apple Pay. This is especially true if your website lacks trust seals (like Norton secured) and social proof (like reviews and testimonials) to prove your legitimacy.

Competitor has products that are cheaper or ship faster

Many customers continue to do product research even after adding a product to their cart. Naturally, if they can find the same product cheaper somewhere else or find an online store that offers faster shipping, the chances that they'll return to your store are slim.

Confusing or insufficient refund/return policies

Customers like the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they can easily return or exchange their product if it doesn't meet their expectations upon arrival. Without this assurance, they are much more likely to abandon their cart. Because 30% of all products ordered from online retailers are returned, an easy-to-understand and customer-friendly return policy is key to helping an online store build trust with its potential customers.

No discount codes or promo codes offering deals

Some customers add products to their cart with the expectation that they will be offered a promo code or deal at some point in the checkout process. When they don't receive any such deal, they abandon their shopping cart.

Ecomm website has performance issues

If your checkout page freezes, is slow to load, or suffers from other performance issues, customers are more likely to navigate away from the malfunctioning page and never return. These may sound like minor inconveniences to you, but may be costing you customers in the long run.


Provide world-class customer service to help reduce cart abandonment with Gorgias

Along with offering a wealth of other business-boosting benefits, great customer service is key to optimizing an online store's conversion rate and preventing abandoned carts. With Gorgias, you can get started with live chat to provide your customers with pre-purchase support that will generate more conversions. 

Check out our case study of three stores that increased sales with live chat for more examples of the revenue-boosting power of a great customer experience. 

Or, to try our customer service platform free for seven days, sign up for Gorgias today!

Frequently asked questions

Why do customers abandon their carts during checkout?
How do you reduce cart abandonment?
How do you create a smooth online shopping experience?
How do you reach out to customers who have abandoned their carts?
Ryan Baum
The customer service platform built for ecommerce brands

Join the 14,547+ brands that use Gorgias every day

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

Get the latest ecommerce tips for growing your business and invites to industry-leading events, right to your inbox.
Thank you! You should have received an email 🎉
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.