Abandoning a Cart: Just Part of the Digital Shopping Experience

Younger users more likely to drop before conversion

Author: Krista Garcia

March 30, 2018

One of the most evergreen problems plaguing online retailers is cart abandonment. For many buyers, though, it’s just part of the shopping process.

According to a new study by user experience optimization company ContentSquare, 81% of online shoppers have left items in a cart and not gone through with a sale. The most-abandoned product category was apparel: 40% of respondents have jumped ship while buying a clothing item. Tech was a distant second, at 18%, followed by home goods (16%). Women were slightly more inclined to abandon their carts than men (41.1% vs. 37.5%), and those ages 25 to 44 were most likely to not convert.

Cost issues were the most cited reason for abandoning a cart; 74% of respondents included reasons like the final price being too expensive or finding a better deal elsewhere. Very few cited factors such as too many options (8.9%) or poor user experience (7.3%).

The "finding a better deal" factor might hold a clue to this behavior. In a June 2017 survey by Paysafe, the leading reason for abandoning a cart in the US was simply that digital shoppers wanted to shop around more (45%). This commitment-phobic attitude was more common in the US than in Canada (40%) and the UK (35%), where hidden fees and delivery charges was the leading motivation to leave a shopping cart.

Adding an item to a cart signals intent, but some shoppers just use digital baskets as a bookmarking tool in lieu of a “save to favorites” button or even as way to try and trigger a promotional email offer. 

According to Q4 2017 data from Monetate, add-to-cart rates were on average 9.7% in the US, and higher for desktop (12.0%) and tablet (11.5%) than smartphone (7.6%). Conversion rates in the US were an average of 3.1% across devices, but only 1.6% for smartphones. Difficulty with small screens and entering necessary details still hold back mcommerce.

Whatever a shopper's reason for abandoning a cart, it's not a behavior that seems to be rising. According to SLI Systems, only 6% of retail professionals worldwide said cart abandonment rates increased between Q3 2016 and Q3 2017. A greater number experienced a decrease (44%) or no change at all (42%).