12 Effective Ways to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

Our ecommerce expert explains everything you need to know about card abandonment. Learn what you can do to reduce it and boost your conversion rates.

Cart abandonment represents one of the biggest challenges of converting browsers to buyers. If you’ve been struggling to understand why your customers are clicking away after spending time searching for the perfect items and adding them to their carts, you're not alone. 

Fortunately, taking steps to address the common causes of cart abandonment can accelerate online sales for your small business. This guide provides details about exactly how to turn your revenue around by eliminating this issue. 


What Is Cart Abandonment and Why Is It a Problem?

Cart abandonment occurs when a customer selects one or more items, but then leaves them in their online shopping cart without completing checkout. 

At some point in the transaction, something occurred that stopped the purchase, causing the would-be customer to click away. This interruption, commonly called friction, has a detrimental impact on your conversion rate – the number of website browsers who become buyers.

The Most Common Reasons for Cart Abandonment

Understanding the causes of cart abandonment can help your company conquer this challenge. These are some of the most common reasons for customers to click away at the last minute:

  • They're browsing for a similar product, but they aren't ready to purchase yet. Customers might require multiple visits to the product page before making a final decision.
  • They don't like the return policy for their selected items. 
  • They don't see their preferred payment method. You can cater to customers by providing payments with credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, and other options through Pay.com
  • The site doesn't allow them to check out without creating an account. Some customers don't want to store personal info like credit card numbers and home addresses, so they skip out on the potential purchase.
  • The company seemed untrustworthy so they didn't want to provide personal information. Ecommerce sites can seem like potential scams if they have unfamiliar branding, missing security information, or other red flags.
  • The quoted delivery date is too far away. In this case, customers might go with a competitor who offers faster shipping.
  • They didn't want to pay the extra costs added during checkout. If tax, shipping, and other fees are too high, it could cost you a sale. 
  • They didn't want to go through a long, complicated checkout process. Sticking to a few steps improves conversion rates.
  • Certain items are out of stock when they try to buy. Keeping online inventory current on product pages can help you avoid this cause of cart abandonment.
  • They found a better price elsewhere for a comparable product. Conducting regular research about competitor discounts, sales and deals informs competitive pricing.

12 Ways to Reduce Cart Abandonment 

Most of the common causes of cart abandonment can be addressed with simple strategies. While it may take time to turn the tide, implementing one or more of these ideas can help your company minimize purchase-interrupting friction and maximize your conversion rate. 

1. Know What You're Up Against

You can investigate your company's cart abandonment rate with a tool like Google Analytics that tracks customer behavior on your website. You'll see exactly when they quit the checkout process, which can pinpoint problems with the user experience. 

You can also explore differences in abandonment rates on different browsers and devices to figure out where you need to optimize. 

To manually calculate the cart abandonment rate, divide the number of completed purchases for a specific period (week, month, or quarter, for example) by the number of people who added items to shopping carts during the same period (whether or not they ended up checking out).

2. Emphasize Action

A clear call to action (CTA) guides customers through the next steps once they've added items to the cart. If they aren't sure what to do at this stage, they're likely to move on without completing the purchase. 

You have a few opportunities to add CTAs to the ecommerce checkout process. First, add a pop-up or call-out box with a link to complete the purchase. Customers should see it as soon as they add something to the shopping cart.

In addition, when someone actually clicks on the shopping cart page, make sure it includes obvious steps to finish the purchase. A large, colorful CTA button is your best choice for this stage of the transaction. When you use Pay.com as your payment service provider, you can customize your website's checkout page, which makes it easy to try out different CTAs and optimize your approach. 

3. Focus on the Flow

To prevent the friction that causes cart abandonment, you need to provide a seamless user experience throughout browsing and checkout. Sticking to a familiar flow as follows can help keep customers on track:

  • Click the shopping cart icon or link to start checkout.
  • Select payment method and enter the necessary information.
  • Enter shipping details and select the method and speed.
  • Review an order preview and make sure it looks right.
  • Confirm the order to complete the transaction.
  • Receive a confirmation screen with the order details.

You want the customer to remain focused on the purchase throughout this sequence. Avoid anything that distracts from the transaction, such as asking for extraneous information like gender, birth date, or mobile number. In general, the fewer form fields to fill out the better. Displaying images of the items during each step may encourage the person to persevere.

Your checkout process should resemble a straight line, not a meandering path. If you find yourself clicking the back button, you'll need to revise your current flow into a linear customer journey.

Guideposts can come in handy if you have a long or complex checkout, as with a custom product requiring extra steps. In this case, try adding a progress indicator to show customers where they are in the process. You could also number multiple pages in the checkout process (e.g., 1 of 3, 2 of 3, etc.)

4. Deliver Diverse Shipping Options

Offer multiple ways for your customers to get their goods if at all possible. Shipping that costs too much or takes too long commonly causes cart abandonment, so providing several options increases the chances for customer satisfaction in this area. 

When evaluating a potential provider for shipping services, make sure they can meet the needs of ecommerce clients. Important features include:

  • Trackable shipping links so they can see package status in real time
  • An easy way to get help if a shipping problem occurs
  • Text and email updates along the package route

5. Stress Secure, Trustworthy Transactions

Your customers need to know their personal data will be safe in your hands when they enter credit card details. Browsers quickly click away before buying if they don't think they can trust your transactions. 

They may develop doubt if they notice issues like a payment gateway with unfamiliar branding, a business name that doesn't match the domain name, a missing or invalid SSL certificate, or a website design that looks old-school. 

You'll also want to make sure your site plays well with a variety of devices. Usability testing can identify lags, delays, and other issues that can affect a customer's trust in your company.

When you work with Pay.com, you can customize your checkout page to create consistent branding throughout your company's online presence. Your payment page will look exactly like the rest of your site, reassuring new buyers that they can count on your business. 

Pay.com also complies with the highest level of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, or PCI DSS for short. These ecommerce requirements are designed to protect your customers from identity theft and online fraud. You can add official PCI DSS compliance badges to your site's checkout page to show your commitment to safe, secure transactions.

6. Be Generous With Discounts and Refunds

Promo codes can encourage the return of customers who've left carts behind. If you've captured their email address or phone number, you might try sending a coupon for a discount on the abandoned items. If someone can find a similar item elsewhere for a lower cost, coupon codes can also help you compete. Providing promos for first-time buyers is a common ecommerce strategy that tends to pay off. 

A generous refund and return policy is another incentive to buy from your business. You should offer at least the industry standard of 30 days for returns. As a new retailer, you might even want to expand your refund window to 90 days or longer to create trust with your clientele. The peace of mind that comes from a financial guarantee often encourages customers to take the final step to purchase.

7. Give Guest Checkout and Cart Saving Options 

If you don't absolutely need to store customer information, provide a guest checkout rather than registration. Some people will always opt out of creating an account, so it's important to give an alternative to those who aren't comfortable with registering for whatever reason. 

You should also provide the option to save the shopping cart and come back later, for customers who don't set up an account as well as for those who register. Guests who take the time to save their potential purchases are more likely to return and complete the transaction down the road.

To be effective, the cart-saving process should be effortless - think a single click. You can use browser cookies to remember customers who don't want to enter personal information at this stage. A conspicuous CTA with clear language like "Save Your Cart" presents this feature without creating friction.

8. Commit to Cost Transparency

When fees inflate the final bill, it can be tough for buyers to justify the cost of a purchase. While it's customary for customers to pay tax and shipping, cart abandonment comes into play when the total is well over the expected amount. 

You can address this issue by showing costs on the product page during each stage of checkout. Provide a panel or pop-up that provides a price range for shipping based on geographic location. You can also add a zip code entry field so customers can see the actual postage cost right away.

In addition to clarifying costs, you should also spell out savings on the checkout page. For example, if someone uses a promo code, show their percentage off as well as the actual amount. Customers are less likely to abandon a cart that contains substantial savings.

9. Provide More Payment Possibilities

If your customers can't use their favorite payment methods, they're more likely to leave their carts behind and go elsewhere. Everyone has their preferences in this area, so offering an array of payment options allows you to reach a wider audience.

Just a few of the methods you might consider offering include:

  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • Digital wallets such as Google Wallet and Apple Pay
  • Electronic bank transfers

Pay.com supports multiple payment methods for your company's online checkout. You simply select the ones you'd like to accept, and they’re automatically added to your checkout page. In fact, it only takes a few minutes to get up and running as a Pay.com partner so you can begin accepting all your customers' go-to payment methods.

Click here to get started with Pay.com now!

10. Have Help Readily Available

Your buyers should be able to reach out to a team member straight from the checkout page. Otherwise, they'll quickly click away if they run into a snag or have a question and can't figure out how to get help.

Many ecommerce companies rely on chatbots for 24/7 assistance. If you go this route, make sure to include a link to a real person along with available business hours for one-on-one support. 

11. Send the Right Message

You may want to take a look at the language on your site to ensure it encourages conversion. When you add strong CTAs to your checkout page, for example, you should review the message and tone for alignment with your company's other content. Wording that seems out of place can create friction since buyers expect a seamless experience with your brand.

At the same time, you can amplify your CTAs by punching up your verbs. Your action words should be as direct and energizing as possible. We recommend swapping unclear phrases like "Continue Here" or "Click to Purchase" with clear statements that connect your readers with the intended action. "Buy Now" and "Start Checkout" offer two solid examples. You can conduct A/B testing to see what CTAs make the biggest audience impact. 

12. Show Off Social Proof

Adding positive reviews and ratings from others can propel customers through the checkout process. Emphasize user-generated content to encourage sales, since people are more likely to buy when they see favorable feedback from others. 

How to Optimize Your Checkout Experience

According to 10 years of research from the Baymard Institute, ecommerce sites can potentially increase customer conversion by up to about 35% by streamlining the checkout procedure and improving the overall user experience. 

Partnering with Pay.com makes it possible to remove the friction for a smooth, secure checkout and payment experience with each and every transaction. These are just a few of the ways our features can help you cut cart abandonment rates:

  • Customizable checkout page to match your company's color palette and brand appearance. You can craft a customer experience that works for your audience, whether you take advantage of our no-code solutions or use our developer-friendly APIs to embed the system into your own code. We help you avoid a tacked-on payment solution that disrupts the flow of your site and introduces doubt about your company's reliability. 
  • Multiple methods of payment so you can address the full array of customer preferences. During our easy onboarding process, you'll select the methods you'd like to offer at checkout, from debit cards to digital wallets and beyond. 
  • Strong security that solidifies your site's reputation for reliability. Since credit card numbers are never stored and tokenized in transit, they can't be intercepted to commit identity theft and fraud. Adding PCI DSS compliance badges to your checkout page lets customers know you'll protect their private data. 

The Bottom Line: Give Your Customers a Smooth Checkout Experience

Smoothing out the checkout process will cut cart abandonment rates so you can see your small business thrive. Taking steps to remove friction minimizes transaction interruptions that challenge conversions. When you're ready to implement these strategies, start small by beginning with the tips that will have the biggest impact on your business.

Choosing Pay.com lets you tackle several common causes of cart abandonment with one comprehensive payment infrastructure. Signing up with our services can smooth out your checkout process so customers stay focused until they successfully purchase - and then keep coming back to your business. 


What's the best way to accept payments on my website?

Accepting online payments through Pay.com is affordable, flexible, and safe. You can offer your customers multiple ways to pay, all protected by the highest level of security. 

Pay.com makes it easy to create a personalized checkout page with recognizable branding your customers can trust, reducing cases of cart abandonment. 

Click here to get started with Pay.com now!

What are the most important elements of a smooth checkout process?

A smooth, stress-free checkout keeps customers focused on their purchases, removing friction that leads to interrupted and abandoned transactions. Key elements to optimize checkout include a straightforward, linear purchase path, few form fields, clear calls to action, and transparent cost information for factors such as shipping.

What is a normal cart abandonment rate?

Almost 70% of shopping carts get abandoned on average according to data from the Baymard Institute. Researchers analyzed numbers from 48 studies to come up with this estimate. That means that for every 100 customers who add items to online shopping carts, only about 30 every follow through with the purchase.

What does a high cart abandonment rate mean?

A high cart abandonment rate indicates an interruption in the flow of your checkout process. This so-called friction keeps customers from completing purchases. The most common causes of excessive abandonment include a lack of trust in your website, high shipping costs, limited payment methods, and usability issues like confusing, slow checkout pages.

Meet the author
Andrea Miller
Andrea Miller has been a writer and editor for more than two decades. Specializing in business and finance, she has written for some of the major websites in the financial sector. Outside of work, she spends most of her time with her family and enjoys hiking, yoga, and reading.
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