Why Users Abandon Their Carts in 2016

There’s new data out there constantly, and we’re hell bent on keeping you updated. So we’ve got a fresh bundle of information on what causes cart abandonment and a little bit about what you can do to improve your cart abandonment rates. 

Cart Abandonment in 2016

cart abandonment

Source: MarketingLand.com


Baymard has just recently published some fresh data when it comes to cart abandonment. According to their study of over 1,000 US adults, a large portion of cart abandonments are simply down to ‘natural causes’, if you will. This section can be put down to people simply browsing: saving items for later, exploring gift ideas, price comparisons – you name it. We’ve all done it. These cart abandonments are largely unavoidable.

Their latest quantitative study surrounding reasons for cart abandonments found that 58.6% of US online shoppers abandoned a cart within the last 3 months because “I was just browsing/not ready to buy”. When you think about it, this segment of the results is near impossible to reduce through improvement of your checkout design – especially since most of these people probably abandon ship before they even get to the checkout.

With that in mind, Baymard kept the rest of the segments in place and removed the former. What it left was an entirely different story:

  • – 61% of consumers leave because costs are too high, such as shipping, fees and taxes
  • – Over a third (35%) left because the site wanted them to create an account to checkout
  • – 27% believe the checkout process was too complicated or too long
  • – Almost 1 in 4 (24%) are unable to see or calculate the costs of the order up front so they abandon the purchase
  • – 22% experience website errors
  • – 18% don’t trust the website with their credit card information (ouch!)
  • – According to 10% of the respondents, the returns policy wasn’t adequate enough for them
  • – And lastly, 5% leave due to their credit card being declined. (We can’t help them on that front unfortunately).

So, when we take out the “just browsing” segment, we have way more to work with and a lot of these can be improved purely through design changes.

When it comes to UK consumers, last month Optimizely found that 83% of online shoppers abandon their virtual carts at the checkout and it stated that the main reasons for abandonment were the addition of unexpected shipping costs (53%) or the requirement to set up an account to complete the purchase (27%). So we can see that the experience of UK consumers correlates with that of those in the US.

New research has emerged from Royal Mail in their annual Delivery Matters report where they found that around a third of online consumers abandon their cart at the checkout. This is at its highest among 18-24 year olds at 61%, compared to only 39% of 35-44 year olds. In the last year alone, 91% of shoppers have admitted to abandoning their carts. There is good news though – this has decreased by 10% since 2015 due to better website experience and new technology.

However, Managing Director of Royal Mail Parcels Nick Landon states that online shoppers are happily finding products and browsing to buy, loading up their cart, only to chicken out once they discover the total cost. Landon describes this as the “oops moment”, and it “prompts them to seek a better deal elsewhere or abandon the purchase completely”.

But let’s move back to Baymard. Taking one as just an example, in the above quantitative study, Baymard found that 27% of US online shoppers have abandoned their carts because the checkout process was “too complicated”.

Let’s break that down. The qualitative 1:1 moderated usability testing and eye-tracking research of the checkout study shows that an ideal checkout flow can be reduced all the way down to 12 form elements. (7 form fields, 2 drop-downs, 2 check boxes and 1 radio button interface). The benchmark database reveals that the average US checkout flow contains 23.48 form elements that are displayed to users by default. (That’s 14.88 if you only count form fields.)

Basically, 25% of shoppers abandoned ship in the last quarter because the checkout process was too complicated, yet there is no reason for it to be so complicated. For most checkouts, it’s possible to make a 20-60% reduction in the default number of form elements shown to the user during the checkout process. So while a 0% cart abandonment rate is impossible we can definitely do better than 68.8%, right?

“By how much better though?” we hear you ask? Well, their research suggests that the average eCommerce site can improve its conversion rate by 35% just by making design improvements to the checkout process. And again for the people in the back:

Better Checkout Design Can Increase Conversion Rate by 35%

Oh, that was satisfying to say. If we focus exclusively on the checkout usability issues which Baymard – during multiple rounds of large-scale checkout usability testing – have documented can be fixed by checkout design improvements themselves, then the average large e-Commerce site has potential for a 35.26% increase in their conversion rate. This figure is even despite being based on the checkout flows of the big players like ASOS, Amazon, Wayfair, etc.

No one’s saying it’s going to be easy to achieve those gains but even when Baymard audit the leading Fortune 500 companies, who’ve already run a couple of checkout optimisation projects, we find that major achievements are still within reach. Their leading benchmark of 50 leading eCommerce sites reveal that the checkout flows of large eCommerce sites have about 39 potential areas of improvement on average.

Even if you don’t have the same amount of resources as the Fortune 500, the vast majority of the checkout changes in their report are related to the addition of simple form features, page layout, and microcopy – therefore they don’t actually require advanced technical implementation or large budgets.

And for those who didn’t get the reference…

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