why is shopping cart abandonment a problem for retailers

Why Shopping Cart Abandonment is a Problem for Merchants

As nice as it would be for customers to just magically appear on your online store and make a purchase, every online retailer knows there’s a significant amount of effort behind every sale. 

First, you have to attract customers through various marketing strategies. Then you have to get them to visit your online store. Then it’s a case of getting them to add a product to their cart. Finally, they then have to complete the checkout process for you to have made a sale. 

And at every step of the customer journey, they may drop off and fail to complete the next step, costing you a sale. 

While this can and does happen at every step, potential customers dropping off of the final step between adding products to their cart and completing the checkout process is a particular problem for merchants. 

This article will take a look at exactly how big of a problem shoppers abandoning their cart is. 

Why cart abandonment is such a problem

Potential customers dropping off at any stage of the customer journey is not ideal.

And while it’s unrealistic to think that you can ensure every customer moves from each step of the journey to the next, customers abandoning their carts is especially painful. 

This is because successfully completing the checkout process is the final step. 

Online shoppers who have made it all the way to adding items to their cart have displayed a strong interest in your products and a clear purchase intent. 

By all accounts, these potential customers should be completing the checkout process. 

This is a very different case to, for example, someone not clicking on your social media ads. It’s completely understandable that most people viewing your ads are either not interested or not ready to purchase. 

When someone has gone to the effort of adding a product to their cart, however, they are both clearly interested and ready to make a purchase. 

Finding out why they’re abandoning their cart is, therefore, incredibly important. Especially when you consider just how common cart abandonment is. 

The shopping cart abandonment rate

It’s estimated that globally between 55% and 81.4% of online shopping carts are abandoned, with the average percentage being 70% across dozens of studies. 

That’s two potential customers dropping off at the final step for every customer who makes a purchase. 

Cart abandonment rates, however, also vary by industry as well as by device. 

For instance, cart abandonment is as high as 90% in the fashion industry, 85% for both cosmetic and customer electronics stores, and 84% for general sports & outdoor goods retailers.

We also know that people are more likely to abandon shopping carts on mobile devices, with the average mobile abandonment rate being 85.65%.

The negative effects of shopping cart abandonment 

These are huge percentages for the number of people merchants are losing at the final step of the customer journey. 

And this has an enormous negative effect on online retailers.

People failing to complete a purchase leaves literally trillions of dollars worth of products left in abandoned carts every year.  

While these products can, of course, be sold later on to different customers, it’s estimated that cart abandonment directly costs retailers $18 billion dollars every year. 

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The good news

So far, everything might seem very negative, but there is good news. 

First of all, we have a very good understanding of the reasons why people abandon carts to begin with. The most common being:

  1. Unexpected/high shipping costs or other conditions at checkout
  2. People browsing for a better price elsewhere
  3. Having to create an account to purchase
  4. The preferred payment is not being offered.
  5. Getting distracted and forgetting to complete the order

And because we know why people abandoned carts, we know what steps are effective at reducing cart abandonment. 

For example, offering free shipping whenever possible or, if that’s not feasible, ensuring that you’re upfront about shipping costs and conditions will go a long way at mitigating the most common cause. 

Beyond that, not requiring customers to create an account, offering as many payment options as you can, and just generally improving your checkout experience will help reduce your cart abandonment rate further. 

Most importantly, though, there are also abandoned cart emails. 

Abandoned cart emails 

Abandoned cart emails are a type of email marketing automation that is sent to people who have abandoned their carts. 

This means that as soon as a customer who has put items in their cart leaves it abandoned, they’ll receive an email reminder prompting them to come back and complete the purchase.

Below is an example of this type of email from Moment.

abandoned cart example

The effectiveness of abandoned cart emails 

Here’s a good statistic for a change: it’s estimated that two-thirds of abandoned carts are recoverable with the right marketing. 

Abandoned cart emails are the most effective marketing tool for recovering these lost sales. 

Not only do they enjoy a much higher open rate compared to regular email marketing at 46.1%, but they also enjoy a phenomenal click-through rate of 13.3%, and over a third of these clicks lead directly to a sale. 

This makes abandoned cart emails among the most engaging emails you’ll ever send. 

cart abandonment statistics

Additionally, every abandoned cart email sent generates an average of $5 in sales. 

Given that you only need to set your abandoned cart automation up once, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enable them right now. 

For more on what abandoned cart emails are and the best practices, check out our guide here. If you’re looking for some inspiration, be sure to also check out our collection of abandoned cart emails here.

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It should now be apparent that shopping cart abandonment is a serious and very prevalent problem for merchants. 

Not only is it causing all of the effort you put into getting customers to visit your store and add products to their carts to waste, but it also has significant hidden costs in terms of lost sales. 

Thankfully, we know why people abandon carts, and we know that abandoned cart emails are incredibly effective at recovering these otherwise lost sales. 

And with SmartrMail’s abandoned cart email templates, it’s literally just a case of switching this powerful automation on for you to start generating additional revenue. 

So there’s no reason you should continue to miss out on these sales any longer. 

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