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What is Cart Abandonment?

What is Cart Abandonment?


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To answer the question, let’s start with a definition of cart abandonment from Webopedia:

“Abandonment is an ecommerce term used to describe a visitor on a web page who leaves that page before completing the desired action. Examples of abandonment include shopping cart abandonment, referring to visitors who add items to their online shopping cart, but exit without completing the purchase.”

Cart, or basket, abandonment may be the most obvious, but there are several types of abandonment across different sectors

Booking Abandonment

Booking abandonment refers to abandonment within the travel industry, where a customer has begun to book a flight, hotel or other travel product but left without completing a purchase.

Unlike retail abandonment, customers may have selected dates they are interested in, as well as the specific travel product.

Abandonment rates on travel sites are typically higher than those in retail and the overall average.

Travel products like flights and holidays are often major purchases for shoppers, and many tend to spend time researching their options, finding the best deals and checking with other travellers. They may begin to book several times, often across different sites, before finally making a booking.

Another reason for higher abandonment rates in travel is the relative complexity of the booking process.

It can take many steps, and plenty of time, to select holidays, extras like seats and insurance, and enter details for all passengers. A long and relatively complex process can mean more people bail out before booking.

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Form Abandonment

This most commonly refers to abandoning forms for quotes, subscriptions, and financial products, though of course any online purchase requires some level of form completion.

Long forms tend to be an issue here. Lots of detail is needed, and it can take a while to complete some financial applications.

Forms on finance sites often have to be long, as plenty of detail is required.

So, for example, a car insurance quote can take time, making it more likely that some customers will leave the site before finishing the form.

form abandonment example

Sites can try to avoid and reduce form abandonment with good desktop and mobile form design strategies which makes it easier for users to complete forms without becoming too frustrated.

Browse Abandonment

Browse abandonment refers to those shoppers who browse a site, viewing category pages and ecommerce products pages on site, but leave without placing items in their basket or making a purchase.

Browse abandonment tends to occur more often during the busiest retail months of the year.

Even though these browsers may not go on to complete a purchase, they are expressing an interest in the products they viewed, and might be persuaded to return to checkout. This is when a conversion rate optimisation solution can help you convert more browsers into buyers.

The stats below show that 43.8% browse product pages on retail sites but don’t go on to add items to their shopping carts or make a purchase on that visit.

browse abandonment funnel

The Latest Cart Abandonment Stats

global ecommerce cart abandonment rate 2022

Our latest cart abandonment statistics from 2021 puts the global average cart abandonment rate at 80.68% across all sectors.

Cart abandonment rates vary by sector, as sites have very different purchase processes and customer behaviour.

For example, fashion purchases are often faster and easier (and relatively low-price) so customers don’t take so much time to make a decision. Hence lower abandonment rates. Below is our latest 2021 cart abandonment chart split up by different categories within each sector

shopping cart abandonment rates by ecommerce sector

As the online experience becomes more complex and the typical research phase longer, then we begin to see higher abandonment rates. However, the recent pandemic has caused an increase in online shopping so we can see many cart abandonment rates have reduced, especially those in demand like retail and groceries.

However, even if the purchase process is a little longer, sites can still reduce abandonment rates by making sure that the site is well optimised and easy to use.

Cart Abandonment Rate by Month

Cart abandonments remain stable throughout the year. November and December typically see lower abandonment rates and higher traffic volumes, which was also the case in 2021.

global ecommerce cart abandonment by month in 2021

Cart Abandonments Rate by Day of The Month

Abandonments throughout the month remain similar. They are slightly lower in the last week of the month, as buying intent rises thanks to payday.

global cart abandonment rate by day of the month 2021

Cart Abandonment Rate by Day of The Week

SaleCycle witnessed the most abandonments on a Monday and the least abandonments on a Saturday. 

Global Ecommerce Cart Abandonment Rate by Day of The Week 2021

Abandoned Cart Rate by Device

Mobile has a higher abandonment rate than desktop. Of course, there are a lot more customers browsing on mobile than desktop so naturally the abandonment would be higher. For example, mobile traffic was 71.23% in 2021 compared to 28.77% on desktop.

Global Ecommerce Cart Abandonment Rate by Device 2021

Why Shoppers Abandon Carts

The reasons will vary by sector, and our abandonment survey data can provide some of the answers to this question.

For the retail sector, these were the most common reasons for abandonment:

  • 34% were ‘just looking’ i.e. not ready to buy.
  • 23% had an issue with shipping.
  • 18% wanted to compare prices.
  • 15% decided to buy in-store instead.
  • 6% abandoned due to a lack of payment options.
  • 4% experienced a technical issue.

The reasons for booking abandonment are similar, though research and price comparison are more commonly cited:

  • 39% wanted to do some more research.
  • 37% felt the price was too high, or wanted to compare prices.
  • 21% needed to check with other travellers.
  • 13% felt the booking process was too long or the checkout too complicated.
  • 9% experienced technical issues.
  • 7% had an issue with payment or felt there weren’t enough options.
why shoppers abandon online shopping carts

8 Ways Brands Can Reduce Cart Abandonment

The good news is that there’s a lot that brands can do to minimize cart abandonment, or to recover these sales after customers leave the site.

There are a number of steps retailers can take to address cart abandonment:

Helping Customers to Research Products

Some shoppers just aren’t ready to buy. The research process can take time, but the key is to provide the information that shoppers need, and to do what you can to keep your site in mind.

help customers research products

For example, travel sites can provide destination guides to help visitors decide if a particular holiday is suitable for them, and sites can provide impartial ecommerce consumer reviews from other shoppers to help them to decide, which can be a great tool to increase your social proof.

Or, if customers simply aren’t ready, offering to save their booking details or cart for later is a great way to keep your brand and products front of mind.

Shipping, Returns and Payment Options

These details matter to shoppers. If they want a dress for the weekend, but your site doesn’t offer next day delivery, then they’ll go elsewhere.

Likewise, if their preferred payment option isn’t available, or returns are not easy and convenient, that may be enough to abandon a purchase.

Details like this matter to shoppers, and retailers need to match or out-perform their competitors in areas like this.

In the case of delivery, customers are looking a mixture of speed, convenience and price. Some shoppers may be prepared to wait a few days if delivery is free, or much cheaper.

Others are prepared to pay a premium for faster and more tailored delivery options like next day or nominated time slots.

The ideal ecommerce delivery offering would provide various options to customers, allowing them to choose the best one for them.

offer shipping, returns and payment options

Here, Schuh offers seven different options for shoppers, which should cover most preferences.

An easy and clear returns process can help ensure that customers are happy to make a purchase, as they know they’ll be able to return them if they need to.

Returns can be an unwanted cost for retailers, so it’s important to do as much as possible to reduce returns rates. Good product information, great images and extras like product video can help by ensuring that customers know what they’re getting.

ecommerce returns stats

However, retailers will never avoid all returns, and an easy returns process can ensure that people are happy to buy again.

Form Optimization

Form-filling is a necessary part of buying online, and it’s an area where shoppers can easily become frustrated.

form optimisations

To minimize form abandonment, sites need to make them as easy as possible to complete. This means things like providing shortcuts for users (such as address lookup tools), helping customers through the trickier form fields, and monitoring analytics data for common issues which trip customers up.

Use Relevant and Timely On-site Messaging

When a customer is on-site and about to abandon, sometimes all they need is a little more information or reassurance to complete the transaction.

Messages shown on-site at the point of abandonment can offer help, offer to save cart details and remind customers later, or perhaps provide a little nudge to prompt customers to complete a purchase.

Improve the Checkout Process

A well-designed checkout process and – crucially – one which works well on mobile as well as desktop is vital.

Well-designed forms matter, but sites can also reduce friction for shoppers in other ways.

For example, providing guest checkout removes one barrier for users, while details like defaulting to the appropriate keypad for touchscreen users makes checkout forms easier to complete.

Cart Abandonment Emails

cart abandonment emails

Once shoppers have abandoned a purchase, that needn’t be the end of the story because the next chapter is to find the best time to send an abandoned cart email.

A well-timed cart abandonment email or cart abandonment SMS message, sent within an hour or two of the customer leaving a purchase, can persuade them to come back and complete the booking or purchase.

Email Reminders and Callbacks

If customers aren’t ready to buy, or perhaps need some more information before committing to a purchase, then there are options.

One is to offer to email customers with cart contents or booking details so they can be come back to the site when they’re ready.

Another option, useful when customers need some help, is to offer to call customers that need some extra help. Prompts can be served up to customers when they’re about to abandon – when they’re heading for the browser back button for example.

Timely help from customer services can be enough to answer customer questions and help them through the purchase process.

Abandonment Surveys

Even if customers don’t return to complete a purchase, finding out why they abandoned can help retailers to reduce future abandonment rates.

Find out How to Tackle Cart Abandonment.

Enter your email below and we’ll schedule a FREE Demonstration of how SaleCycle can help you recover abandoned sales.

Reviewed by Brad Ward
Written by Graham Charlton
— Updated on 08/08/2022



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Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.