To answer the question, let’s start with a definition 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 that companies can track:

Booking Abandonment

This refers to abandonment within the travel industry, where a customer has begun to book a flight or a hotel 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.

Form Abandonment

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

Long forms tend to be an issue here. For example, filling in the details to receive a car insurance quote can take time, making it more likely that some customers will leave the site before finishing the form.

Browse Abandonment

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

The Latest Cart Abandonment Stats

Our latest remarketing report puts the global average cart abandonment rate at 75.6% across all sectors.

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

For example, gaming sites often tempt customers with special offers of free bets to acquire new customers. This, along with a relatively fast purchase process, helps to keep abandonment rates below the average.

The same principle applies to fashion and many retail purchases. Customers don’t take so much time to make a decision, and the purchase process is relatively simple.

As the online experience becomes more complex and the typical research phase longer, then we begin to see higher abandonment rates.

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.

How Brands Can Combat 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.

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 reviews from other shoppers to help them to decide.

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.

Form Optimization

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

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

Once shoppers have abandoned a purchase, that needn’t be the end of the story.

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.

Abandonment Surveys

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

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