5 Ways To Improve eCommerce Shopping Cart Conversion Rates

For retailers, the growth of eCommerce creates massive opportunities for sales. In 2019, U.S. online retail sales of physical goods amounted to $365.2 billion US dollars and are projected to reach close to $600B in 2024. For shoppers, it means there are endless opportunities and avenues to find any products they need. With so much competition for retailers, it’s no wonder that the stakes are high for boosting shopping cart conversion. 

This makes lowering your shopping cart abandonment rate even more critical. Statista reports a global cart abandonment rate of about 79%. Rates that high mean even a slight improvement in average abandoned cart rate can make a major difference, yielding $18 billion annually in opportunity cost.

But improving cart abandonment rate isn’t all about optimizing the checkout page. It’s about the experience retailers provide their customers beyond the shopping cart. Statistics suggest that customers buying clothing online, for example, may abandon due to concerns about slow delivery. This concern for the delivery experience even eclipsed top product concerns like fit and price.

Here’s what retailers will need to know about optimizing their customer journey beyond the shopping cart and what it means for lowering the cart abandonment rate overall.

Cart Abandonment Statistics And Last Mile Supply Chain

How do top retailers incorporate these lessons of cost and speed into their shopping carts? A Baymard survey found that 53% of respondents abandoned carts due to extra costs. Customers particularly disliked higher-than-expected shipping costs, taxes, and extra fees.

Customers also prefer to see fast delivery estimates. In our eBook Last Mile Delivery Wars, we note that 60.7% of customers are more likely to make a purchase if they see faster delivery date options in the shopping cart. 

We’ve compiled some of the most important ways to improve the cart and hint at the quality of the retail delivery experience.

1. Don’t Ask Customers to Jump Through Hoops

As the statistics above demonstrate, customers expect delivery to happen fast, and they expect to understand where their shipments are every step of the way. The Baymard Institute survey found that most customers disliked extra costs, but it wasn’t the only reason customers left:

  • 31% of customers abandoned during checkout because they didn’t want to create an account
  • 23% abandoned because the checkout process was too complicated
  • 6% needed better payment methods

It often comes down to a single factor: think of the shopping cart as a single stage of eCommerce fulfillment. The longer the conversion takes, the less the customer trusts that you’ll provide a speedy delivery experience.

An eCommerce store in search of a better conversion rate has to remove as many of these hoops as possible. Start with the most problematic: don’t ask for sign-ups. Allow customers to purchase with a guest account. Avoid upselling and cross-selling offers that interfere with the checkout experience. Cross-selling and upselling are important, but shouldn’t intrude enough that they lower the shopping cart conversion rate.

2. Simplify The Shopping Cart

Frequent cart abandoners don’t like waiting. 21% of customers thought the process was too long. Even more (25%) found that navigation was too complicated.

How long does it take your customer to check out from the time they click “purchase” through the order? Most customers are happy to take their time with your cart if they’re buying from your site for the first time. But the longer this process goes on, the more likely it is you’ll face shopping cart abandonment. The result is a higher average abandoned cart rate.

When the Baymard Institute ran the numbers on global cart abandonment, they found $260 billion in lost orders that could be recovered “solely through a better checkout flow & design.”

Cut out as many of the extraneous hoops as possible, and focus on the interaction itself. Inform the customer of what they can expect in terms of delivery options. If you do upsell and cross-sell, make sure these options don’t impede the customer’s ability to check out.

3. Demonstrate You’re A Trustworthy Brand

Asking someone to purchase from a company they don’t trust is a formula for high cart abandonment. A customer might poke around on product pages and maybe even click “add to cart,” but if the trust isn’t there, they won’t pull the trigger. According to Baymard, 17% of cart abandoners listed “didn’t trust site” as their primary reason for leaving.

Demonstrating trustworthiness isn’t always easy. Time and space are in the shopping cart. Here are some elements of establishing trust and consistency:

  • Build consistency between product pages and shopping carts: If a retailer’s product is $30 on the product page and $47 on the shopping cart because of extra fees and delivery, that brand risks losing trust with the customer. 
  • Communicate accurately: As many as 57% of customers might click to a cart to see an estimate of the shipping costs as part of their research. In the Amazon era, where ‘fast and free delivery’ means that the shopper will get convenience and reliability from their retailer, they are more likely to buy. In a recent survey, we found that without free delivery, 64% of shoppers would consider not returning to Amazon.

4.  Retarget And Remind

Most companies assume that if a customer clicks on a shopping cart, they’re interested in following through with the purchase. But one of the reasons we see such a high shopping cart abandonment rate on a global basis is that customers aren’t always looking to become customers because they clicked “Add to Cart.” Sometimes, they’re simply browsing. In fact, data shows 56% of customers may click “order” just to save a product for later.

That’s where customer retargeting can help generate a higher shopping cart conversion rate. Retargeting can be one of the most effective forms of marketing because of its specificity: appealing to users who have already demonstrated interest. That may be why some 91% of marketers find it to be a high-performing way to bring customers back.

Retargeting that’s specific to abandoned carts is especially powerful. That was the case for Total Wine, one of the largest independent retailers for wine, when it launched a retargeting campaign aimed at cart abandoners. These days, if you fail to follow through with an item in your cart, TotalWine will remind you upon logging in. 

Retargeting based on shopping cart abandonment works for TotalWine, even exceeding other retargeting campaigns. The return on investment was 6:1 for every dollar of ad spend and a 20% year-over-year improvement over other retargeting efforts.

For customers, cart abandonment isn’t necessarily the end of the story. It may be one step out of many in their product research. Retargeting campaigns don’t turn customers off through repetition; if anything, they guarantee that a retailer is spending money on warmer leads.

5. Avoid Price Shock By Optimizing Shipping Costs

According to the National Retail Federation, the back-end customer experience is more important to cart abandonment than ever. “Many consumers now consider shipping costs even before getting to the checkout page,” says the NRF. 

The report also showed that 65% of consumers say they look up free-shipping thresholds before adding items to their online shopping carts, while 96% of online customers are more likely to shop somewhere if they know they can expect free shipping.

Retailers who position their supply chain to avoid “price shock” will always have the advantage when it comes to cart abandonment. This is where cart abandonment rates and supply chain management most go hand in hand.

As McKinsey notes, Amazon uses a number of strategies to decrease shipping costs and minimize price shock, including “favorable contracts with shippers” based on high-volume demand, an advanced order-management system that maximizes the use of shipping capacity, and maintaining their top 20% items in all distribution centers for faster distribution.

Amazon has built-in advantages, including a world-class supply chain system. McKinsey writes that to compete with these advantages, “Retailers will need a unified view of their supply chain that shows what is available at each point and channel at any time, and then routes it to the customer in the cheapest and fastest possible way.”

What does that mean for other retailers? Boosting supply chain visibility is a must. Our prescription: Investing in transportation visibility solutions to identify as many carrier performance issues as possible. While retailers can’t always compete with major supply chains that have the built-in advantage of major distribution centers, your ability to track your supply chain’s success through analytics can provide the next closest thing to a shortcut.

Maintain supply chain visibility with your customers. We found that 54% of customers are “at least somewhat likely” to avoid larger-scale purchases online if they have any doubts about delivery. If those doubts creep in when it comes to the price or delivery estimate on your shopping cart, you have a recipe for abandonment. Reduce price shock by knowing the weak points in your supply chain, identifying key improvements, and reducing costs as much as possible.

Create a Consistent Shopping Cart Experience 

Your shopping cart conversion rate isn’t just another gateway from website visitor to satisfied customer. It may just be the most important gateway. 

By lowering your abandoned cart rate, you’ll improve your entire sales funnel. And you can’t create a consistent experience for your customers unless you have a shopping cart that delivers on the promises your website makes. From shopping cart to the back-end follow through on delivery, the trust you build with your customers has to be there every step of the way.

Want to learn more about how to improve your shopping cart abandonment rate? Check out this blog, or learn how you can provide clear estimated delivery dates from as early as the product page.

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About the Author

Christina Singh

After graduating from the University of Virginia, Christina promptly packed her bags and moved far west to the Lone Star State. In Austin, she built and managed reputations for small business owners through social media, and found a passion for media, targeting, and content strategy. As a Content Marketing Manager, Christina helps to drive demand generation for Convey through content, developing content strategy and creating outbound marketing materials for its potential customers. Christina Singh on LinkedIn