Cart abandonment – the dreaded phrase nobody wants to hear followed by the words ‘has increased’. It’s one of the biggest pain points in online retail as customers get to the final hurdle, and for whatever reason, fail to convert.

According to the Baymard Institute, the average documented rate of cart abandonment was nearly 70 percent as of July 2018. The value was calculated out of more than 40 individual surveys conducted on abandon rates by sites like Adobe, SalesCycle, and IBM. The results conclude that there is plenty of room for improvement to be made throughout the overall digital customer experience (CX).

Here are five best practices to address and minimize cart abandonment.

1. Increase purchase “FOMO”

Fear of missing out (FOMO) has proven to be a driving factor behind consumer behavior in the digital age, but it’s actually just basic economics of supply and demand. In retail, this refers to the scarcity principle. When customers are shopping online, they might navigate away from a site with the knowledge that they can easily shop anywhere on the web, or receive a better deal from a competitor.

Retailers who are able to capitalize on the scarcity principle, by creating a sense of exclusivity, urgency, or limited supply, are more likely to see increased demand and purchase follow-through. Making sales events and price match guarantees clearly visible is one way to keep consumers on a site longer. Include pop up reminders of limited inventory or special pricing while a consumer is viewing or loading an item into their cart. This can push them to the final step of purchasing that item.

2. Focus on real-time customer service

By 2020, 25 percent of customer service operations will have artificial intelligence (AI) integrated into their internal and customer-facing applications. The two main avenues for automated support systems are virtual customer assistants and chatbot technology, both of which aim to address the issues that arise during and after the shopping experience at speeds unmatched by humans at scale. Eliminating frustrating delays and human error, as well as seamlessly guiding users through various product offerings and assisting with the checkout process, means that a retailer is more likely to capture that individual’s business.

It’s important to focus on the timing of purchases on your site. Understanding where a user is on the site, where they are in relation to making a purchase decision, and providing support accordingly are keys to conversion. Shoppers don’t want a chat window popping up at random to annoy them when they are simply browsing, and haven’t begun clicking on products or loading their cart.

3. Communicate product offering clearly

How products look on a site has a lot to do with the overall shopping experience. The average conversion rate from a homepage to a product page is reported to be less than three percent. Use eye-catching, engaging product imagery. Add precise product descriptions, crowdsourced reviews or testimonials, and additional resources like size guides and return information. These indicators all work together to paint a portrait of inherent value to your consumer.  The question shouldn’t be, what is the product, but rather, what results can the consumer expect to gain from owning it?

4. Optimize the checkout experience

More than two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge is predicated on the shopping experience they deliver to consumers. This includes the clarity of the product offering as indicated above, as well as the checkout process itself.

According to a survey by Splitit, 87 percent of online shoppers will abandon their cart if the checkout process is too long or complex. 55 percent of those consumers will never return to the retailer’s site after a bad checkout experience. Trust, certainty, and value are the biggest components fueling a successful checkout. However, a surprising number of retailers haven’t optimized their processes to mitigate these three problem areas.

An effective checkout process will reduce the fear a consumer has about both the quality of the product being received as well as the security of their input payment details. It will also provide further support to help the customer understand any additional incurred fees, discounts, and shipping information. Changes as simple as structuring the language on the order page to reflect ownership, or using an SSL certificate in the browser for trust and credibility have been shown to increase the rates of purchase on e-commerce sites.

5. Collect Actionable Feedback

Even if a consumer abandons their cart, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the opportunity is lost. Sending out highly targeted surveys can be a great way to learn more about what caused them to leave. Your operational data alone will simply tell you that 40% of people abandoned their cart – but by adding in experience data by collecting their feedback, you can start to understand ‘why’ by spotting trends and finding insights that will help you improve the experience.

In an earlier case study, a Qualtrics customer who was losing thousands of dollars a minute was able to reverse the losses by quickly sending out a survey targeting users who left the checkout process prior to completion. They were able to find an error in form field formatting that was a simple fix, but otherwise could have led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.


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Maddie Davis is is the Co-Founder and Editor for Enlightened-Digital, an online technology magazine. An avid website designer, she is passionate about the potential for emerging technologies to push the boundaries and unlock our full potential.