An amazing 80% of online retail shopping missions (and up to 84% of mobile shopping missions) end in an abandoned virtual basket, with the customer placing items in their basket but departing before completing their purchase.  This sort of basket abandonment can be one of the most frustrating causes of lost conversions.  

The act of filling an online shopping basket indicates an intention to purchase so its subsequent abandonment suggests some sort of website failure. However, it’s also often one of the hardest problems to identify – unless it’s an obvious issue like slow page loading or poor stock availability, a customer’s reasons for leaving can often be obscure.

In the process of analysing billions of shopping interactions on major retail websites globally, we have identified some key trends that can lead to basket abandonment, each of which indicate some quick-win solutions for retailers everywhere.

1. Forgetfulness

One of the most common reasons for basket abandonment seems to be forgetfulness.  The customer puts something in their basket, gets distracted and then forgets to come back and complete the transaction.  This leaves them in an easy-to-convert state, often only needing a nudge to remind them to finish off the process.  Email retargeting is the most effective solution for this sort of abandonment, which means inviting shoppers with an incomplete purchase to come back and buy the goods they selected.

2. Checkout confusion

Another common cause of abandonment is simple confusion around the checkout process.  A shopper chooses their goods and fills their basket but, when the time comes to pay they can’t work out how to checkout and so leave in frustration.  The simple solution here is to have a clear ‘proceed to checkout’ call to action prominently displayed around the basket screen.

3. Delivery options

One of the key shopping stages that inspires basket abandonment is delivery charges.  If a customer is hit with an unexpected charge, or is unsure what their charges or options are, they will often leave the purchase and go somewhere where they can be sure of the cost and nature of the delivery on offer.  Again the solution is simple – ensure you have no hidden charges or ambiguities in your delivery costs as these will cost you customers.

4. Discount envy

An unexpected side effect of giving people discounts can be to encourage basket abandonment.  If a shopper sees a prominent discount code line (e.g. ‘enter your discount code here’) and they don’t themselves have a code, they will often leave, afraid that they’re paying more for their products than someone else.  If you have a discount code box, minimise it to a line of text that expands when you mouse over it, making it less obvious to non-discount holders that they’re possibly missing out.

5. Free delivery

A free delivery threshold can seem like a great idea, incentivising people to spend that little bit more whilst rewarding big spending customers.  However, it can also be a disincentive for those who are unsure of your rules.  If you don’t know what the threshold is it can bring in uncertainty, and uncertainty breeds abandonment.  If you have a free delivery threshold then advertise how much more the customer needs to spend in order to qualify.  This has the handy side effect of giving you a great excuse to merchandise sell-up items to help push them over the limit.
The causes of abandonment are many and varied, and the issues detailed above will solve only a subset of abandonment drivers.  However, these are common issues that we see time and time again and each offers a simple solution to help enhance conversions.  There will always be basket abandonment, but simple steps can chip away at the problem, one customer at a time.