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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

latest cart abandonment statistics

Our latest cart abandonment statistics from 2022 puts the global average cart abandonment rate at 79.53% across all sectors.

This is slightly lower than 2021, which was 80.68% suggesting that consumers are slightly more confident in their purchasing.

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 2022 cart abandonment chart split up by different categories within each sector

latest abandonment rates by 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 2022.

Generally we have also noticed that cart abandonment rates in 2022 are slightly lower especially in the second half of the year.

cart abandonment trends by month 2021 - 2022

Cart Abandonments Rate by Day of The Month

Abandonments throughout the month remain steady until the last week of the month in both 2021 and 2022. However, 2022 abandonment rates trend slightly lower than 2021.

Buying intents perhaps increase due to payday, which is why we see the dip.

cart abandonment rate by day of month 2022

Cart Abandonment Rate by Day of The Week

SaleCycle witnessed the most abandonments on a Monday and the least abandonments on a Saturday during 2021. However, in 2022 Monday saw the lowest abandonment rate and Sunday saw the highest.

Global Ecommerce Cart Abandonment Rate by Day of The Week 2022

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 reduce 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.

Shopping Cart Abandonment FAQs

What Triggers Cart Abandonment?

Cart abandonment occurs, or is triggered, when a consumer adds items or potential purchases to their shopping cart, but then leaves the site without completing a purchase.

When we talk about the behavioural side of a customer’s journey, these are some common issues found that can drive them to an abandoned cart:

Browsing – Users who add items to the cart but don’t complete a purchase are very likely to be just browsing – with low buying intent. 

Technical problems – This could include anything technically inconvenient within your site, from slow website speed to pop-ups that refuse to close. It’s important to monitor your website’s analytics and do regular reviews of the checkout process to ensure there are no interruptive issues.

Complexity – We are aware through social proof that online shoppers (as well as any kind of consumer online) have a short attention span and will abandon their carts if the steps to purchase are too drawn-out or complex. 

Lack of trust – Online shoppers must be willing to provide their credit or debit card details during the last stages of their customer journey. Therefore, your website needs to portray itself as authentic as possible to secure a trustworthy sale – and repeated sales following on from that. Consumer reviews are a good way to represent the credibility of your brand.

Price is too high – As mentioned previously, consumers are often comparing different sites during their customer journey to find the best possible deals. By offering special discounts and promo codes, you can capture their attention and therefore more sales. 

High shipping costs – Customers often abandon shopping carts when they approach the checkout stage and then realise how much they are expected to pay for shipping. It;s important to make sure that all aspects of your site and brand are competitive – even when it comes to shipping prices and deals.

Lack of payment options – Nowadays, there are a vast and growing number of ways to pay for items online including: credit/ debit card payments, ApplePay, PayPal, splitting payments and monthly payments (with Klarna, for example) and ‘’buy now pay later’’ schemes. You can appeal to more customers by offering these kinds of payments with your site.

Why do people add to cart but not purchase?

Nowadays, with so many online stores and brands to choose from, customers may simply be browsing or conducting product research during their online visits – causing them to add to their carts without following through with a purchase, otherwise known as browse abandonment.

In most cases, this is because customers do not have enough information about the sale (such as what offers and discounts they may be able to use) prior to initiating the checkout process. So, it’s important to make this clear before the checkout stage to be able to compete with other online brands. Also, it’s important to be aware that one of the most popular reasons for online shoppers abandoning their cart is down to shipping costs and difficulties. This is one of the last steps in their checkout process, and it’s usually here when they decide that the shipping costs are too high or their item won’t arrive on time.

Why do people abandon their carts?

Reasons for people abandoning their carts will vary by sector, and SaleCycle’s abandonment survey data can provide some key insights to this question. 

For example, cart abandonment statistics in the retail sector (which covers the widest variety of items online), found that the most common reasons for abandonment include:

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.

What is the top reason for shoppers abandoning their carts at checkout?

It is most often found that shipping issues, mainly high shipping costs, is the top reason for shoppers to abandon their carts at checkout. As well as high costs, shipping issues include no free shipping and slow shipping. An average of 23% of shoppers abandoned carts due to issues with shipping.

According to our data, another inadvertent reason for shoppers to abandon their carts is due to browsing between sites – which is much easier with today’s technology especially with the rising popularity of m-commerce i.e. the ability to browse easily between windows and tabs with ease, with payment options readily available in one device once a decision has been made.

What are the effects of digital shopping cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment has a variety of different implications when it comes to your site’s performance, but most importantly for your business: the higher the number of abandoned carts, the greater the impact on your revenue. It’s reported that ecommerce stores lose as much as $18 billion in sales revenue each year because of cart abandonment.

Some other effects that result from high abandonment rates include:

  • Loss in customer lifetime value.
  • Boost in customer acquisition expenses.
  • A lack of organic visitors due to customer recommendations and reviews.
What percentage of people abandon their online shopping carts?

According to SaleCycle’s most recent findings from the 2023 Ecommerce Stats and Trends Report, an average of 79.53% of client consumers abandon their online shopping carts. When we look further into specific industry data, we have found the following statistics when it comes to shopping cart abandonment:

Although these figures seem high, when we take the previous information into account we can begin to understand the volumes of potential customers abandoning their purchases. Whether it’s due to browse abandonment or shipping difficulties, it’s important to understand where online businesses can utilise certain sales tactics (such as discount codes and ecommerce countdown timers), to capture customers and secure a sale.

What is the average website abandonment rate?

Ecommerce website analysis tools show that when it comes to average website abandonment rate, we can consider that a good checkout page abandonment rate is lower than 40%. It is highly unlikely that a website abandonment rate in ecommerce will ever reach 0% due to browser abandonment and the ability to shop elsewhere with ease  (which is out of the brand’s control) – but it’s important to keep low abandonment rates in mind to avoid loss of revenue and returning customers. 

Website abandonment rate, however, is different to cart abandonment rate. Cart abandonment rates can be significantly higher than website abandonment rates due to the lesser amount of consumers who follow through with an actual purchase, after browsing a site for -what sometimes can be – a prolonged amount of time.

What is a good cart abandonment recovery rate?

Let’s break these terms down so that we can grasp the metric of cart abandonment recovery rate:

  • ‘’Abandoned cart’’ refers to the number of people who add items to their online basket, but don’t follow through with a purchase. 
  • The ‘’recovery rate’’ is the number of people who then return to their cart to go through with the purchase – this usually occurs as a result of recovery SMS cart abandonment messages or browse abandonment emails.

It’s important to calculate and monitor your abandoned cart recovery rate regularly, as this will give you a benchmark to measure what is and isn’t working. With the help of some extra feedback and review processes (such as customer reviews and ratings), you can even find out where in the process (and why) your buyer originally dropped off.

When you understand what caused a buyer to abandon their cart and then subsequently return to purchase, you can then tailor a plan to encourage purchases the first time, rather than rely on drawing the customer back.

All in all: according to research and shopper marketing statistics, if your abandoned cart recovery rate is above 10%, you are doing rather well. A very successful process could even amount to rates above 20% – which would be exceptional.

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


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Brad Ward

Brad Ward is the SEO & Content Manager at SaleCycle. Brad is a former magazine journalist with over 8 years experience in digital, including SEO, social media and copywriting. Brad has written thousands of articles for a range of different sectors including online gambling, travel, education, sports and ecommerce.