Young woman hopping away with her shopping bag, looking off to what she has left behind.

5 ways to reduce shopping cart abandonment

Despite the recent surge in U.S. e-commerce sales, online shoppers remain unpredictable when it comes to checking out online: The average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 70%. Anything you can do to reduce that rate for your business will be good news for your bottom line.

One place to start may be streamlining your checkout with new technology. Or rethinking where you display your returns policy. Even a small change can make a big difference toward decreasing abandoned shopping carts on your site.

To help you focus on solutions, here are 5 ways to reduce the shopping cart abandonment rate for your e-commerce business:

1. Be clear and transparent throughout your website

Did you know 23% of shoppers abandon carts because they can’t understand or compute the total cost of their purchase? Clarity in the checkout display is critical for a smooth experience. But looking beyond the checkout pages can also help prevent uncertainties that keep shoppers from completing a purchase. It could be that their questions aren’t answered as they browse your site. Simple fixes could be to clearly display FAQs about your products or make your returns policy easier to find.

Shoppers value transparency from companies they buy from, and that’s why featuring reviews on your site can be so valuable. Let shoppers read the views of real people who have purchased your products—and not just the raves. Make sure to display at least a few negative or mediocre reviews so that shoppers get a more accurate understanding of what people love (or not) about your merchandise.

2. Offer guest checkout to shoppers on your site

Being forced to register or create an account is a major source of friction at checkout. Shoppers like speed, with as few obstacles as possible in the way of hitting that checkout button. In fact, 24% of consumers cite the need to create an account as a reason for abandoning an online shopping cart.

Here’s one best practice for setting up a guest checkout for your site: Make sure to fit the necessary fields onto one screen. This lets shoppers check out without having to click through several displays. You can always give them the option to save their information on your site for a future purchase, just don’t make it a condition for completing the transaction. And with the information you collect, such as an email address, you can begin to build relationships that turn shoppers into long-term customers.

3. Display steps of progress through the checkout flow

Your site’s navigation may also be a factor in why shoppers abandon carts. Feeling lost online can produce anxiety and raise doubts about the checkout experience (not to mention doubts about your brand).

A breadcrumb approach helps people understand where they are as they move through your site—and through the checkout flow. This navigation tactic has many benefits, like boosting e-commerce conversion rates. Adding online cues, like a trail, at the top of the page can guide shoppers through the checkout steps and instill confidence that they’ll get the outcome they want: a successful purchase.

4. Offer buy now, pay later as a payment option at checkout

Discovering added costs at checkout—especially unexpected shipping charges—turns shoppers off, and it’s the #1 reason for shopping cart abandonment. Adding a buy now, pay later (BNPL) option like Affirm can help prevent shoppers from ditching at checkout.

When shoppers see the total price tag at checkout, they may be unsure about committing to pay the full price up front. But if they know they can pay in installments on a fixed schedule, as a BNPL option allows, they have more flexibility in managing their personal cash flow and staying on budget. In a recent study of Affirm users, for example, 29% said they would not have completed the purchase if Affirm wasn’t available. 

You can also prevent cart abandonment by making sure shoppers are aware of the BNPL option well before checkout. One easy way to do this is to display the option as part of the product display page (PDP), showing what the fractional amount would be if buyers choose to make biweekly or monthly payments. This tactic can deliver other benefits besides helping to reduce shopping cart abandonment. When aftermarket auto retailer SuperATV added similar as low as messaging with Affirm to PDPs, the result was a 333% increase in Affirm sales volume.

5. Streamline your online checkout process

A long, complicated checkout process is also a big reason for shopping cart abandonment. Small tech adjustments can help simplify the checkout process and lower abandoned cart rates. Here are a few simple ideas: 

  • Make sure essential details—like buy or add-to-cart buttons, as well as payment option icons—are displayed above the fold

  • Enable auto-fill, especially for shipping and billing address fields

  • Test the checkout flow on your phone to make sure the process is optimized for mobile experiences

Check with the tech platform providers that support your e-commerce business, as they may have checkout solutions you can add with a few clicks. Partners like BigCommerce, Bolt, or Stripe, for example, can help you with quick checkout adjustments that may already work with your tech stack and make it super simple for you.

For more tips on reducing shopping cart abandonment, get our free ebook on creating digital experiences that fuel conversion