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  1. georgi

    People are quite contradictory.
    They don’t like the extra fees as shipping and are more likely to purchase if it is FREE which in fact is a lie as the cost is just hidden in the price.
    Some things are clear to everyone:
    1. Customers generally do a heavy research unless they are in a hurry so be there when it happens
    2. Price/quality ratio needs to be FAIR and PROFITABLE
    3. People don’t generally want to make another account somewhere or to give their e-mail too early in the process so you can send them yet another reminder e-mail they don’t want

  2. Chris Willow

    Here’s what I would add to the list from my personal experience:
    1) my preferred payment method is not accepted
    2) crazy international shipping fees
    3) need to create an account to purchase

    Like you said, clicking the add to cart button can be part of the buying cycle, especially if the shipping/payment terms are not clear on the order page.

    1. Tommy Walker

      Oh man, those are great points too!

      International shipping I imagine is tricky for companies, however, it’s something that should be made clear up front. It’s possible to display special information based on location, so I believe the merchant should say either

      A.) We notice you’re outside of US/UK just to let you know up front, shipping may be a little extra, or

      B.) Feel free to look around, however we don’t ship to your country, please check out who offers similar goods.

  3. Derrick Kirkman

    I abandon my cart all the time, and for one simple reason: The silly merchant did NOT put the price anywhere on the website except within the shopping cart. I had no intention to purchase at that moment. I just needed to know the price.

    1. Great point Derrick. If you have the price right in the item page itself you avoid all the hurdles of the buyer going through the process and not buying. For example including the shipping price within the item page plus “explaining” that if they shop for $75 worth of goods, they will get free shipping. Transparency will cut out all the surprise and lower your cart abandonment rate.

  4. Nathan

    I have an issue regarding emailing people who abandon cart. How can you email them if you haven’t captured their email before they leave your site?

    Is it best to go for the email address as the first thing to get from the customer so you can email them later or is best to just show them the payment details first. My gut says just capture their cc and shipping details to minimize steps but I’d love someone to explain why I’m wrong.

    1. Tommy Walker

      99% abandon on the first visit, statistically speaking, right?

      So, You could optimize to capture the credit card for that 1% who are going to buy right away, and get that one sale that one time.

      Or, you can optimize for membership/email so you can follow up on abandoned carts, and send follow up marketing for promotions on a regular basis.

      I don’t remember the exact source at the moment, but there was a study that found 70% of consumers preferred to receive digital marketing over email.

      It’s the difference between trying to get someone to buy from you one time and hoping they remember you vs. Gaining and developing a long term customer, who has a much better lifetime value. Read over the SmartPak Equestrian case study, some really great stuff in there.

    2. Peep Laja Peep Laja

      Having email as the first field (default on Shopify for instance) is the way to go. My tests show that if the first fields are something people don’t need to think about (email, name), the number of people filling out the form increases. Once they get to the hard stuff (credit card number), they’ve already filled out a few fields, and now they can’t stop (people have the urge to finish what they started).

  5. claire stone

    Wow, this is brilliant. I sell very little online, but was wondering last week what to do about the people who had abandoned their purchases. I had no idea I could just email them (by that, I mean, I had no idea that it would be ok to do so, and also what on earth I’d say). This has given me something to think about. Thank you very much indeed!

  6. Terra Mrkulic

    LivePerson, known primarily for their online chat software, had similar findings in a independent consumer study conducted earlier this year. You mention above you weren’t able to find many case studies about live chat’s influence on cart abandonment. They found that – “The need for speed is also influencing how consumers want to connect with brands. 51% stated that they were more likely to purchase from a website if they could get answers via live chat, and globally, 48% of consumers indicated that they are more likely to return to a website if live help is available. Overall, 93% of consumers consider real-time help as being beneficial during their online customer journey.” See the entire study results:

    1. Tommy Walker

      Thanks for sharing that, that’s extremely useful :-)

      What I was talking about specifically in that section though was using live chat, and phone sales as part of the creative in the ad retargeting campaign.

      If 48% of consumers are going to be more likely to return if live help is available, and 93% consider real time help as being beneficial, why not create a display campaign that leverages retargeting technology to drive people back to their abandoned carts?

  7. Wow!!! This article is so thorough! Thank you so much for the great research and information.

  8. Lalitha

    i abandon my shopping cart for the reason of more cost or if i find it not a proper quality..

  9. Andrew

    FANTASTIC POST. Thanks for all the great information.

  10. Manuel da Costa

    I remember seeing a website (I won’t name it to prevent any embarrasement) that had an EMPTY CART button on the checkout page.

    I mean, who puts an empty cart button? What can you expect if you make it so easy for visitors to delete all the items in their cart with one click of a button?

  11. Spook SEO

    I for one agree with the unexpected cost. It turns me off when I am presented with something like that when I think I have the amount figured out. I have to say though, if unexpected costs have an adverse effect as far as cart abandonment, then the opposite should also be the same.

    For companies who have this kind of problem, surprising the customers by charging them lesser than what they really expected will surely be a game changer for you!

    Letting them know of a “surprise discount” or something to that effect will surely make them feel how lucky they are for being on the right place and the right time.

  12. Guestblo

    Hey, Tommy, it was a real treat to read your article. Reasons that you have mentioned for the abandonment of cart , are quite true. The problem that I have experienced personally is the great deal of time, it claims. You have to create an account, give in all your personal information and then the cart will appear. Moreover, the huge shipping fees are always there.

  13. Daniel Kohn

    Wow! Great article and thanks for the plug! There is so much written about cart abandonment, but you’ve pretty much nailed all the elements and discussion points into one super sized post. After doing a heap of research myself, one thing is for sure, everyone has different stats and figures for all the key points. What the real abandonment rates, when’s the best time to send the first email etc. One thing we’ve learned is that every company and vertical is totally different and everything must be tried and tested for each website accordingly.

  14. Kristin Atkinson

    There’s some serious research in here! Long article but well worth the read. More of our clients need to buy into engaging with cart abandoners!

  15. Amy Weissfeld

    Excellent and well researched article!! Kudos to you for a very comprehensive job. To nitpick, I’d say you’re missing 2 things. The first is the important role that dynamic recommendations play – both before abandonment (recs on site mean the shopper is likely to find what she’s looking for) and after (recs in retarget email make a huge difference). Full disclosure, this is what my company does. The second is the importance of easy navigation and removing barriers to purchase. Terrific article, I just signed up for the blog. Looking forward to hearing more from you. Many thanks!

    1. Tommy Walker

      How right you are Amy, and thank you for adding!

      I contemplated going into detail on both of those things, however tried to keep the focus on the back end recapture vs the front end conversion.

      Simple things like collapsible divs to enter promo codes, pop-up shopping carts, and in cart “one click” contextual recommendations are all things I would have loved to talk about, but it would have broken the flow of the article.

      Would love to learn more about what your company does though, as that is a really awesome specialization !

  16. Geoff

    Tommy, thanks for an excellent detailed post. I’ll have to re-read it again incase I have missed something. Interested to know your take on what is the impact of redirecting a customer away from a site when they click on a buy button. Do you know of any research on this area. Full disclosure. My company has just launched “buy now” button or widget that doesn’t send visitors away from your site when they purchase. It is aimed at non technical online entrepreneurs, bloggers, musicians, artists, software creators and writers who want to sell what they create and get paid by making selling via blogs and social networks simple as embedding a YouTube video. Would love to hear your thoughts on this aspect.

  17. Thanks for the great article. Reason #2 is priceless for me. I used to think as the majority of merchants – that the majority of people who leave my website were just wasting my time.

    Now, with the new perspective you gave me I will try to device a plan to convince some of the “browsers’ to buy from me.

  18. Jason Hull

    A lot of cart abandonment happens at checkout when people see the coupon field… they then want to go searching the web for a discount and then start seeing lot’s of distractions. Why not offer one on the checkout page… the JustUno tool is a great way I have seen… where you can give them a coupon code in exchange for a tweet or FB post for some viral goodness and a win-win.

    Just make it say “Our Best Coupon Offer Available Right Now…” so they don’t see a point to go in search of a better one.

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Shopping Cart Abandonment: Why It Happens & How To Recover Baskets Of Money