The top eight reasons for cart abandonment—and what they can tell you about your business


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  1. Introduktion
  2. What is cart abandonment?
  3. The top eight reasons why cart abandonment occurs
    1. 1. Unexpected costs at checkout
    2. 2. Complicated checkout process
    3. 3. Website performance issues
    4. 4. Lack of trust elements
    5. 5. Limited payment options
    6. 6. Mandatory account creation
    7. 7. Ambiguous return policies
    8. 8. Out-of-stock items
  4. Why it’s important to know the causes of cart abandonment
    1. Capturing revenue
    2. Improving the user experience
    3. Gaining operational insights
  5. How Stripe can help

There are many reasons a prospective customer might leave right before they’re about to commit to a purchase. Understanding these factors—whether it’s unexpected costs, a complicated checkout process, or security concerns—can give businesses a unique perspective on their online operations’ strengths and shortcomings and enable them to create a strategy that reduces friction at checkout.

This article will describe the most common reasons for cart abandonment across industries. By understanding these challenges, businesses can reduce cart abandonment and refine their online checkout experience.

What’s in this article?

  • What is cart abandonment?
  • The top eight reasons why cart abandonment occurs
  • Why it’s important to know the causes of cart abandonment
  • How Stripe can help

What is cart abandonment?

Cart abandonment is when potential customers begin making a purchase online—such as adding items to their shopping cart or starting to sign up for a subscription—but leave the site without completing the transaction. It’s equivalent to the brick-and-mortar retail scenario in which shoppers walk around with items in their basket only to leave them at the checkout counter and exit the store without making a purchase.

The top eight reasons why cart abandonment occurs

Preventing cart abandonment starts with understanding the reasons why it happens. Recognizing the challenges customers face during their shopping journey allows businesses to implement proactive solutions and improve customer satisfaction.

Here’s an overview of the top reasons customers abandon their carts when shopping online:

1. Unexpected costs at checkout

  • What it is: Additional charges a customer discovers only when they’re ready to finalize their purchase, such as shipping fees, taxes, or handling costs.
  • Why it happens: Businesses might choose to display these costs only at the final stage, thinking it can lead to a higher initial commitment from customers.
  • Prevention: Transparency and clear communication are key. Make sure all potential fees are visible from the start, or at least provide a clear estimator tool early in the shopping process.

2. Complicated checkout process

  • What it is: A multistep, confusing, or lengthy checkout process that deters customers from completing a purchase.
  • Why it happens: Businesses sometimes prioritize data collection over user experience or fail to optimize the checkout page.
  • Prevention: Simplify the checkout process. Opt for a one-page checkout if possible, and require the customer to provide only the information that’s absolutely necessary.

3. Website performance issues

  • What it is: Slow-loading pages, crashes, or glitches experienced by customers during shopping.
  • Why it happens: Insufficient website infrastructure, lack of site optimization, or high traffic volumes can lead to these issues.
  • Prevention: Regularly monitor site speed, and invest in robust hosting solutions. Implement content delivery networks, and optimize images and scripts for faster loading.

4. Lack of trust elements

  • What it is: The absence of security badges, customer reviews, or clear return policies, which can make customers skeptical about the purchase.
  • Why it happens: Newer or smaller businesses might overlook these elements, thinking their product quality will speak for itself.
  • Prevention: Display security badges prominently, especially during the checkout process. Include customer testimonials, transparent return policies, and multiple contact methods to establish trust.

5. Limited payment options

  • What it is: Fewer payment methods to choose from, which might not cater to all customer preferences.
  • Why it happens: Businesses might start with just a few payment methods because of ease or familiarity without meeting the expectations of diverse audience segments or providing regionally popular payment methods for specific markets.
  • Prevention: Offer a range of payment methods, including credit and debit card payments, bank transfers, digital wallets, and, where appropriate, buy now, pay later (BNPL).

6. Mandatory account creation

  • What it is: Forcing users to create an account before they complete a purchase.
  • Why it happens: Though businesses like to gather customer data for marketing efforts, it creates an extra step for the user.
  • Prevention: Offer a guest checkout option. Though it’s beneficial to encourage account creation, making it mandatory can deter many users.

7. Ambiguous return policies

  • What it is: Unclear or hard-to-find information about returns or exchanges.
  • Why it happens: Some businesses bury their return policies deep within their sites or use convoluted language, making it challenging for customers to understand their rights.
  • Prevention: Present return policies clearly on product pages and during the checkout process. Use straightforward language and consider highlighting key points such as the return period and any associated costs.

8. Out-of-stock items

  • What it is: Products that appear to be available when a customer adds them to their cart but are then unavailable at the point of purchase.
  • Why it happens: Inventory management issues and website-update delays can lead to discrepancies between actual stock and what’s shown online.
  • Prevention: Integrate a real-time inventory management system to ensure the website reflects current stock levels. Inform customers promptly if a product becomes unavailable, ideally before they reach the checkout stage.

Why it’s important to know the causes of cart abandonment

For businesses that accept payments online, each abandoned cart represents lost revenue but also provides insight into challenges in the online shopping experience. Cart abandonment rate is a key performance indicator and a tangible metric that monitors the effectiveness of a business’s online sales funnel.

Cart abandonment trends can highlight business opportunities in a few primary areas:

Capturing revenue

Each abandoned cart represents potential revenue that didn’t materialize. Recouping even a fraction of these losses can amount to significant sums over time.

A single transaction, when viewed in isolation, might seem minor. But retaining that customer and encouraging repeat purchases can drastically increase their lifetime value to the business. Addressing cart abandonment can lead to higher retention rates and foster longer-term relationships with customers.

Improving the user experience

Each cart abandonment provides feedback about the user experience. Perhaps the checkout process is cumbersome, or customers discover unexpected costs at the last minute. Optimizing your checkout to address these issues creates a smoother experience, encouraging immediate sales and repeat visits.

Trust also plays a pivotal role in online transactions. A customer abandoning a cart because of concerns over payment security or unclear return policies indicates a breakdown in trust. Addressing these concerns directly can solidify a business’s reputation as trustworthy and reliable.

Gaining operational insights

Abandonment because of out-of-stock items offers valuable insight into inventory management and demand forecasting. It can signal which items are in high demand and warrant restocking or more aggressive procurement strategies.

Abandonment rates can also demonstrate the efficacy of marketing campaigns. If a promotion leads to high traffic but increased abandonment, there might be a disconnect between advertising messaging and the shopping experience.

The implications of cart abandonment extend beyond lost sales. Understanding the reasons behind cart abandonment enables businesses to refine their strategies, improving the customer journey and increasing customer retention and lifetime value. Addressing these challenges requires a blend of analytics, user experience optimization, and strategic decision-making to convert these near misses into confirmed sales.

How Stripe can help

Cart abandonment is a challenge that many businesses face, typically because their checkout process is too lengthy or complicated. Stripe offers multiple ways to streamline the checkout experience, making it more appealing for customers to complete their purchase. Here are a few ways Stripe can help reduce cart abandonment:

  • One-click checkout
    The checkout process with Stripe Checkout or Link’s one-click checkout is intuitive and fast. When a customer opts for one-click checkout and stores their information, their payment details and shipping information are automatically populated for future purchases. This feature speeds up the checkout process and removes the tedium of entering details manually, encouraging purchase completion.

  • Mobile-optimized experience
    Stripe delivers a mobile-first checkout experience that is optimized for screens of all sizes. The user interface is clean, simple, and designed to minimize typing. This can be especially helpful for reducing cart abandonment rates, as mobile users often cite ease of use as a deciding factor when making online purchases.

  • Customization capabilities
    Stripe allows businesses to customize their checkout flows. With application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) readily available, businesses can tailor the user experience to fit the specific needs and preferences of their target audience. Customization can extend to the look and feel of the checkout page, the types of payment accepted, and the language and currency options. A more personalized experience typically leads to higher conversion rates.

  • Payment flexibility
    Stripe supports a variety of payment methods, from credit cards to digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. This variety caters to different customer preferences and increases the likelihood of a completed transaction.

  • Security measures
    Security is a focus for Stripe, and it features built-in fraud detection and risk management systems. These are designed to instill confidence in customers, making them more likely to finalize their purchase.

  • Reduced loading times
    Checkout speed is another area in which Stripe excels. The platform is designed for quick load times, which is a major factor in keeping customers engaged all the way through to the purchase confirmation page.

Stripe’s multifaceted approach addresses various elements that contribute to cart abandonment. The one-click checkout is a significant feature, and coupled with customization, payment flexibility, and a mobile-optimized experience, businesses can significantly improve their conversion rates. To learn more about Stripe Checkout, go here.

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