Why is Shopping Cart Abandonment Such a Problem?

Ruth Peters
July 29, 2022

Shopping cart abandonment is a challenge that every eCommerce and social commerce brand faces. Common reasons for cart abandonment include:

  • Extra taxes and fees (48% of shoppers abandon a purchase because of this)
  • Needing to unexpectedly create an account (24%)
  • And a lack of trust in the site or brand when it comes to paying by card (22%).

Shopping cart abandonment rates hover at around 70% across all industries — and have done for the last few years. It’s a pretty alarming number when you take it at face value.

But should we take shopping cart abandonment research at face value?

Free shipping, secure payments, and frictionless checkout are all essential in eCommerce, no doubt. But the reality is: many consumers who add items to their cart do so while in the awareness and consideration stages, and are simply not primed to check out yet.

The data the brand has gathered so far in the eCommerce process then becomes invaluable for nudging shoppers toward the sale.

Dig deeper > 2-minute read

Why are consumers not ready to purchase?

Shoppers are more likely to abandon a cart on mobile and tablet (85.65% and 80.74% abandonment rate respectively) versus desktop (69.75%). That makes understanding the reasons behind these cart abandonments even more important for social commerce brands.

Let’s unpack what’s going through an eCommerce or social commerce shopper’s mind when in the awareness and consideration stage, to better understand what stops them from converting. 

Cart abandonment during the awareness stage

As all marketers know, consumers need to have multiple touchpoints with a brand before they complete their sales journey. Nine in ten first-time visitors to a brand’s website won’t make a purchase –– solid proof that it’s worth investing in strategies that encourage them to return. 

One recent study even found that 14% of UK consumers browse online stores every day without any intention to buy anything at all. They’re just seeing what’s out there and having an online window shopping experience.  

The same study reported that over one-third of consumers are adding items to their basket as a way to save them for later, not necessarily to make a purchase. 

Cart abandonment during the consideration stage 

The ability to compare pricing is a huge motivator for eCommerce shoppers; in a global study of 20,000 consumers, 49% of them cited being able to find ‘cheaper’ items as a reason they turn to online channels.

This means that even if a shopper puts your item(s)in a cart, they may be doing so to facilitate easier price or brand comparisons further down the line. They might also be adding items to carts on your competitors’ websites too. 

The timing is just not right

And then there’s a third option that most cart abandonment research doesn’t reference: timing.

Maybe it’s not payday for another two weeks. Maybe the customer is going away next week and won’t be home to receive packages. Maybe they’re about to hit ‘buy now’ and their phone rings, the washing machine finishes a cycle, or a cooking timer goes off. 

There are so many things that a brand can’t control when it comes to cart abandonment. Instead, it’s essential to focus on what you can do: bring that customer back — at some point soon — to complete the sale. 

So how do brands move forwards?

The key thing here is to realize that your customers’ sales journeys aren’t done in a single moment; they’re a sequence of touchpoints over time. 

We can’t over-emphasize just how important data collection is for driving revenue through social commerce. It’s not only important to use data to recover abandoned carts but to bring shoppers back to your brand time and time again. 

It costs a lot to acquire new customers — it’s an investment that’s likely to wipe out any profit from first-time purchases altogether. And almost half of pure-play eCommerce brands are losing an average of $29 for every new customer order.

Here are three ways to use customer data to bring shoppers back to their cart items and drive the revenue you need.

Personalized email messaging

Remarketing by email and retargeting by ads is a surefire way to keep your brand top of mind and to ensure customers won’t forget about that item they put in their cart. With data, you can make this as targeted as possible. 

70% of consumers say it’s important for brands to offer a personalized experience. HubSpot research showed that three-quarters of brands found personalized email campaigns to be their most effective marketing tactic — more than subscriber segmentation, email automation, and dynamic content.

You don’t have to take their word for it. The dollars don’t lie. Email marketing still consistently  delivers the highest ROI of all marketing channels at $42 back for every dollar you spend.

Cart persistence technology

A ‘persistent’ shopping cart will keep track of a customer’s unpurchased products and restore their cart the next time they visit your site. Alongside simply storing items, a persistent shopper cart might:

  • Show the number of items in a basket every time the visitor returns to the site
  • Update pricing in real-time, so the shopper always has the best deal
  • Remind shoppers of any promotions they were about to benefit from
  • … and flag any inventory issues (either if a product is starting to sell out, to encourage the sale, or if a product is no longer available).

Cart items won’t persist forever, of course. 7 days is the minimum amount of time shopping carts should persist, while 30 days, 60 days, or even 90 days is better.

Cart persistence is a great way to ensure that customers who were put off their initial purchase by bad timing can easily follow through with the sale.

Avoid promotional offers in your funnel activities

It’s often thought that sharing discount codes or other offers to entice customers while they’re still in the discovery phase is a good way to lower your cart abandonment rate. 

But this just isn’t the case. As we now know, there are many ‘awareness’ and even timing reasons why people abandon their carts. And even if they are comparing your product(s) vs a competitor’s on price alone, offering up a discount during their first visit is unlikely to convert them. 

People will eventually purchase anyway, they are just moving through the funnel. Save your most persuasive promotions for your targeted ads and remarketing by email. 

If data is the answer to cart recovery, make sure you’re collecting it yourself

Cart abandonment is a behavior all retailers and brands need to work with rather than against. Only ~10% of first-time buyers will convert, and whether that sale does complete eventually is down to how well customer data is used to hook them back in.

It’s for this reason that SimplicityDX believes edge shopping journeys, that start on social media, need to end on the brand site. If a brand allows shoppers to checkout — or even get close to checkout, by filling a cart — on a social platform instead, they’ll be left with very minimal data to fuel retargeting techniques. Directing a shopper from a social platform to the brand site is not just better for the brand, it’s what 71% of customers want too.

To learn more about taking control of your own social commerce journeys, visit the SimplicityDX blog for more insights.

SimplicityDX makes social commerce work. Its SimplicityDX Edge Experience Platform enables brands to optimize social commerce experiences by simplifying the buying process between journeys started at the edge and the brand’s eCommerce e- site. Founded by a team of industry veterans in May 2021 and privately funded, SimplicityDX operates in the U.S. and U.K. markets. 


What are some of the reasons that cause cart abandonment?

Cart abandonment happens for a variety of reasons. A lot of data cites shopping experience issues, such as untrustworthy payment processes or extra fees being added at the payment page. But, at SimplicityDX, we also think it’s worth considering what’s happening in the shopper’s experience that stops them from completing the sale. They might still be in the awareness or consideration phase — it might also just be bad timing. 

What are some ways to combat cart abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment is hard to combat: over a third of shoppers add items to a cart just to store them for later. Instead of worrying too much about combating abandonment, brands should double down on ways of recovering those carts and retargeting shoppers using their data.

What are the effects of cart abandonment?

Cart abandonment can have huge effects on revenue and profitability. It is predicted that $4 trillion worth of items will be ‘abandoned’ in carts in 2023 — presenting a massive opportunity for brands to recover this revenue.

Read our other posts on consumer experience.

Which customer analytics matter most for Commerce?

Ecommerce innovation: 5 really smart ideas from Asos’s checkout flow

10 examples of unique eCommerce user experiences (and what you can learn from them)

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