How to reduce cart abandonment: 11 tactics businesses should know


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  1. Introduction
  2. What is cart abandonment?
  3. Why does cart abandonment happen?
  4. How to reduce cart abandonment: 11 tactics to know
    1. 1. Transparent pricing
    2. 2. Simplified checkout
    3. 3. Flexible payment options
    4. 4. Trust-building measures
    5. 5. Optimized website performance
    6. 6. Clear return, refund, and cancellation policies
    7. 7. Inventory management
    8. 8. Retargeting strategies
    9. 9. Engaging user experience
    10. 10. Addressing comparison shopping
    11. 11. Minimize distractions
  5. How Stripe can help

Cart abandonment is a complex—and perennial—concern for any business that processes customer transactions online, with implications that extend across operations, sales, and customer relationship management. More than 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before purchase completion, translating to potential lost revenue and missed opportunities for businesses. While several factors can contribute to a customer’s decision to abandon their cart, the reason often rests within a business’s control.

By understanding the root causes of cart abandonment and adopting proactive measures, businesses can improve their online sales processes. This article explains cart abandonment: the reasons behind it, insights it can provide about business operations, and pragmatic approaches to reduce its occurrence.

What’s in this article?

  • What is cart abandonment?
  • Why does cart abandonment happen?
  • How to reduce cart abandonment: 11 tactics to know
  • How Stripe can help

What is cart abandonment?

Cart abandonment is when online shoppers add items to their virtual shopping carts but then leave the website or app without completing the purchase. Ecommerce businesses often monitor cart abandonment as an indicator of potential issues within the buying process, from website functionality to customer hesitation or decision-making barriers. That said, cart abandonment isn’t an issue that is exclusive to ecommerce businesses: if your business converts new customers and completes transactions online, cart abandonment is probably a top concern.

Why does cart abandonment happen?

Cart abandonment can be tied to specific elements in the online shopping journey. To reduce abandonment rates effectively, businesses must first understand these underlying causes. Here’s a more detailed look at what can lead to cart abandonment:

  • Unexpected costs
    Shoppers often abandon carts when they encounter unanticipated fees at checkout. This includes shipping fees, taxes, and other added costs. Businesses can combat this by providing transparent pricing early in the shopping process or offering promotions that offset these fees.

  • Complicated checkout process
    A checkout process with multiple steps or unnecessary fields can deter potential customers. Streamlining this process, possibly through a guest checkout option or fewer form fields, can help reduce friction.

  • Account creation requirements
    Some shoppers prefer not to create an account for a one-time purchase. Offering your customers a guest checkout option, or simplifying the registration process, can help keep those customers on the path to purchase.

  • Security concerns
    Shoppers sometimes abandon carts if they don’t fully trust the payment process. Using reputable payment gateways, displaying security badges, and providing clear information about data protection measures can help build trust.

  • Website errors or slow loading times
    Technical issues can interrupt a purchase. Monitoring site performance regularly and addressing any glitches promptly are key to creating a smooth customer experience.

  • Ambiguous return policies
    Unclear return or refund policies can make customers hesitant. Creating clear and favorable return policies, and displaying them prominently, can instill greater confidence in potential buyers.

  • Out-of-stock items
    Discovering that an item is unavailable only at the final stages of checkout can be frustrating for customers. Accurate inventory tracking and promptly updating product availability can reduce these occurrences.

  • Comparison shopping
    Some customers add items to their cart as part of their research or comparison shopping and may not have the immediate intent to buy. Retargeting strategies, including email reminders or personalized offers, can recapture this audience segment.

  • Distractions
    Online shoppers face numerous distractions, from other devices to real-world interruptions. Reminder emails or push notifications, when used judiciously, can bring customers back to finalize their purchase.

How to reduce cart abandonment: 11 tactics to know

Understanding the reasons behind cart abandonment offers businesses the opportunity to improve their online shopping experience and directly address the barriers customers face during their purchase journey. Addressing each potential pitfall in a systematic way can lead to higher conversion rates and increased sales. Here are 11 tactics that can make a difference:

1. Transparent pricing

Transparent pricing is important for establishing trust with potential customers. One common customer grievance is encountering unexpected costs at the final stages of checkout. To address this, businesses should make an effort to display all associated costs early in the shopping process. This includes not only the product price but also additional costs such as shipping, taxes, and any other fees. Additionally, integrating tools such as a shipping calculator directly on product pages or within the shopping cart can provide clarity and prevent potential surprises later in the purchase process.

Practical takeaways:

  • Display all costs early in the shopping process to avoid last-minute surprises.
  • Break down the costs for the customer, detailing product price, shipping, taxes, and any additional fees.
  • Consider including a shipping calculator on product pages or in the cart.

2. Simplified checkout

An overly complicated or lengthy checkout process can deter even the most determined shoppers. By simplifying the checkout process and reducing the number of required steps, businesses can create a smoother, more user-friendly experience. Techniques such as offering autofill options can further reduce friction, minimizing the number of steps shoppers need to complete to make a purchase. Moreover, consistent A/B testing of various checkout flows allows businesses to understand and implement the processes that yield the highest conversion rates.

Practical takeaways:

  • Reduce the number of steps in the checkout process.
  • Offer autofill options where possible, decreasing the amount of manual input required from the shopper.
  • To determine which process results in the highest conversion, A/B test checkout flows regularly.

3. Flexible payment options

Flexible payment options have become increasingly important. To cater to the shoppers’ diverse preferences, businesses should strive to accept a variety of payment methods, from standard options such as credit and debit cards to increasingly popular alternatives such as digital wallets. For premium products or services, offering payment plans or financing options can make purchases more attainable and less daunting for customers, leading to reduced cart abandonment.

Practical takeaways:

  • Accept a range of payment methods.
  • Offer payment plans or financing options for higher-priced items.

4. Trust-building measures

It’s important to establish and maintain trust throughout the customer journey. Trust-building measures, such as prominently displaying security badges and certifications, can assure customers that their personal and financial data is safe. To amplify trust further, businesses should integrate customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials for products, which reinforces the legitimacy and quality of their offerings.

Practical takeaways:

  • Display clear security badges or certifications to assure customers their data is safe.
  • Include customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials for products, further validating the purchase decision.

5. Optimized website performance

Ever-growing customer expectations make optimized website performance a requirement. Slow loading times or glitches can quickly dissuade potential buyers. Therefore, businesses must regularly monitor and optimize for both mobile and desktop interfaces. With many customers toggling between devices as they shop, businesses must ensure a responsive, consistent experience across all platforms.

Practical takeaways:

  • Regularly monitor site speed and optimize for mobile and desktop.
  • Ensure the site is responsive across devices, recognizing that customers may switch from one to another during their shopping experience.

6. Clear return, refund, and cancellation policies

Clear return, refund, and cancellation policies serve two purposes: they instill confidence in potential buyers and clarify the steps customers should take if they’re not satisfied with their purchase or service. By prominently displaying these policies, especially during checkout, businesses can soothe concerns related to post-purchase regret. Tactics such as offering prepaid return labels or promoting free returns can further improve purchase completion.

For subscription-based businesses or marketplaces and platforms, this means creating easy ways for customers to change what type of subscription they have, or pause or cancel their subscription. While it might seem counterintuitive to reduce cart abandonment by making it easier for existing customers to leave, trying to stop customers from ending their relationship with your brand leads to negative word-of-mouth and damage to the brand overall—and doesn’t necessarily stop them from leaving.

Practical takeaways:

  • Display policies prominently, preferably with quick links during the checkout process.
  • Offer prepaid return labels or free returns as an added incentive.
  • Make it easy for customers to change their subscription tier or cancel altogether using a self-serve portal.

7. Inventory management

Effective inventory management is a behind-the-scenes factor that significantly impacts cart abandonment rates. It’s frustrating for a shopper to spend time navigating the purchase process, only to discover at the last moment that an item is out of stock. Real-time inventory tracking systems can mitigate such issues. Moreover, back-in-stock notifications can retain potential buyers, signaling to them when a desired product becomes available again.

Practical takeaways:

  • Implement real-time inventory tracking to avoid a situation in which a customer learns that a desired item is out of stock only in the later stages of the checkout process.
  • Consider offering back-in-stock notifications for products that are currently unavailable.

8. Retargeting strategies

Retargeting strategies offer a way to re-engage potential customers who have abandoned their cart. Email campaigns, specifically targeting those who’ve left items in their carts, can serve as persuasive reminders. Additionally, dynamic ads on social media platforms, showcasing the exact products or services the customer added to their cart, can reignite interest and drive conversions.

Practical takeaways:

  • Implement email campaigns targeting customers who have abandoned carts, reminding them of their selections.
  • Use dynamic ads on social media platforms showing the exact products the customer had in their cart.

9. Engaging user experience

An engaging user experience is about more than aesthetics. While eye-catching visuals and detailed product descriptions play an important role, interactive elements—think 360-degree product views—can deepen engagement. Offering live chat support during business hours can also make a difference by providing customers with real-time solutions to queries or concerns that may otherwise lead to abandonment.

Practical takeaways:

  • Offer live chat support during business hours to address any immediate questions or concerns.
  • Use engaging visuals, detailed product descriptions, and interactive elements like 360-degree product views to hold customer interest.

10. Addressing comparison shopping

Comparison shopping is a nuanced challenge. As customers grow savvier and more resourceful, differentiating your brand becomes paramount. This involves not only showcasing the brand’s unique selling proposition but also tangible actions like offering price-match guarantees or loyalty programs to reward repeat customers.

Practical takeaways:

  • Position the brand’s unique selling proposition prominently, focusing on what sets the business apart from competitors.
  • Offer price-match guarantees or loyalty programs for repeat customers.

11. Minimize distractions

A focused, streamlined checkout process with minimal distractions can reduce abandonment by limiting potential exit points. While promotional codes can be enticing, businesses should present them discreetly. A prominent code entry can lead to customers leaving the site in search of discounts, introducing the risk that they will not return to finalize their purchase.

Practical takeaways:

  • Design the checkout process to be as clutter-free as possible, reducing potential exit points.
  • If offering promotional codes, ensure the code entry point is discreet to prevent customers leaving the site to search for discounts.

Implementing these strategies requires ongoing analysis and iteration. Businesses should continue to gather data, seek feedback from customers, and make adjustments based on observed behavior patterns and changing market conditions. Addressing cart abandonment is an ongoing effort, but with a dedicated approach, businesses can make substantial improvements in their conversion rates.

How Stripe can help

Stripe offers solutions that directly address some of the core reasons for cart abandonment, making the checkout experience smoother for customers and potentially boosting conversion rates for businesses. Here are a few ways Stripe can help businesses reduce their risk of cart abandonments:

  • Addressing unexpected costs
    A primary reason people abandon carts is because of unexpected costs that crop up during the checkout process. Stripe allows businesses to clearly display all costs, including shipping and taxes, from the onset. Businesses can also integrate promotions or discount codes directly into the Stripe Checkout interface, so customers know exactly what they’re paying, eliminating surprises that could lead to abandonment.

  • Simplifying the checkout process
    A cumbersome checkout procedure can deter customers from completing their purchase. Stripe Checkout simplifies this process by offering a clean, single-page interface that asks only for required information. This reduces the number of steps for customers, making it less likely that they will abandon their cart.

  • Guest checkout and account creation
    For customers who don’t want to create an account, Stripe provides the option for guest checkout. This is especially helpful for customers who are making a one-time purchase. For those who do choose to create an account, Stripe offers the ability to save their details for faster future purchases, making the process as straightforward as possible.

  • Security measures
    Trust plays a significant role in online transactions. Stripe has robust security protocols, including PCI compliance and encryption. Businesses can also display Stripe’s well-known security badge during checkout to ease customer concerns about data safety, thereby reducing the likelihood of cart abandonment due to security concerns.

  • Website performance
    While Stripe can’t directly control your website’s speed or error rate, the Stripe API is designed for quick load times and low latency. It’s also continuously monitored for performance, which helps minimize disruptions during the payment process that might otherwise deter a customer from completing a purchase.

  • Transparent return policies
    Although Stripe doesn’t handle return policies for businesses, its customizable checkout interface provides an option to include a link to your return policy right in the checkout pane. This gives customers an easy way to view your return policy before completing a purchase, which could address concerns that may otherwise lead to cart abandonment.

  • Inventory updates
    Stripe can be integrated with inventory management systems to reflect real-time product availability. This ensures that customers will not reach the last stage of checkout only to learn that an item is no longer available.

  • Retargeting and reminders
    Stripe can work in tandem with other marketing solutions to facilitate retargeting strategies, such as email reminders or personalized offers. These can be particularly effective for customers who use their cart for research or comparison shopping.

  • Minimizing distractions
    While nothing can eliminate distractions entirely, Stripe’s accelerated checkout feature allows returning customers to bypass much of the checkout process, making it easier for them to complete their purchase even if they are interrupted partway through.

Stripe’s comprehensive suite of features helps resolve many of the underlying issues that contribute to cart abandonment. Implementing Stripe’s payment solutions means businesses can create a smoother, more inviting checkout experience that encourages more completed purchases.

To learn more about creating an optimized checkout and how Stripe helps businesses combat cart abandonment, go here.

The content in this article is for general information and education purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Stripe does not warrant or guarantee the accurateness, completeness, adequacy, or currency of the information in the article. You should seek the advice of a competent attorney or accountant licensed to practice in your jurisdiction for advice on your particular situation.

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