eCommerce: What is cart abandonment, why it’s bad, and ways to fix it

What COVID-19 taught us in the marketing world was proof beyond doubt that digital is going to become much more important. As the real world stopped and physical limitations were put in place certain things shone above everything else.

Amazon had a massive increase in sales, the major UK supermarkets struggled to keep up with the demand for their online services, and where people could they were buying things online. Etsy and eBay were the new high streets and delivery companies started growing their workforce.

To keep the profit going, small businesses and freelancers looked to how they could leverage the digital landscape and many made the switch successfully. It’s excellent that more businesses joined the online world. To help with the switch, I wanted to help with sharing some thoughts on cart abandonment.

Having an effective shopping cart is key to good eCommerce, obviously.

There are many requirements to successful eCommerce websites, including good product pages, regular stock updates, good communication, and most importantly your shopping cart.

Arguably, your shopping cart is the most important thing in the list I just mentioned. There is absolutely no point in having a shopping website if no one can effectively buy your products.

If comes onto your eCommerce website and goes through all of the steps to purchase a product but doesn’t actually successfully check out. This is called cart abandonment and will make a website fail or succeed.

So how do you know if your eCommerce sucks?

That sounds like a harsh opening but if no one is buying from your website, then it’s likely that your eShop isn’t doing so great. So how do you know it sucks?

Analytics. You can’t be behind everyone when they are shopping, the whole idea behind eCommerce is that you don’t need to be beside someone when they shop and you open your business up to a wider customer base. This is where Google Analytics comes into play, it tells you how well your website is being used by your customers and this is how you manage cart abandonment.

Setting up goals to see how people flow through your website, from product page through to shipping confirmation and when and where people are dropping off throughout this cycle. The more people drop off than convert to a customer, the more obvious it becomes that you have an issue.

Fixing the cart abandonment problem

People not fulfilling an order on your website could be one of many things and it’s hard to pinpoint without seeing what is actually happening in the analytics. Some of the key reasons for people ditching a shopping cart are below, however, if you’d like someone to look at it for you I offer consultancy on these issues.

A confusing cart set up in your eCommerce solution.

You need to be simple with eCommerce, a great example of a good shopping cart is the giant that is Amazon. They have the know-how and teams to research and develop the perfect cart and they have done exactly that.

The interface is a few simple clicks to get you from purchase through to payment, and then to shipping details and done. The whole thing is seamless. Most of the time if someone is frustrated when trying to order from you then they won’t. This is likely the main cause of issues.

Etsy, pictured below, is another example of a great shopping cart. It’s simple and easy to get from product to purchase.

An example of the eCommerce shopping cart used by Etsy which is simple and easy to use.

Errors with payment or lack of trust-worthy payment gateway

You are being trusted with someones payment details, one of the biggest thing to people in the modern world. Money makes the world go round is the popular saying, so when someone trusts you with their card details you need to know how to handle them.

Using a payment gateway, like PayPal or WorldPay, is a key way to build trust in your shop. Not using one and having your own solution is one of the ways you will turn people away. All major shopping carts let you use a third party you know and trust.

This brings me onto errors in your eCommerce payment gateways, which mainly crops up if you have your own solution. A third party will bring these into some control but this is something that Analytics can help with. You can set up Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager to keep track of where errors on your website group up and what needs to be fixed.

Do not force people to have an account

This is a personal pet peeve of mine, but I really think it impacts a standalone eCommerce platform more than anything else. Not everyone will repeat purchase from you and accepting that fact makes your cart better to use.

Having a guest login section so there isn’t another password to remember for your customers will help you. It also means you don’t keep a lot of data from your customers on your website, which makes your website less interesting to hack into.

In the modern day you don’t need an account to run through a payment process and most off-the-shelf platforms, like Magento, come with the ability immediately. If someone really likes your product they will proactively sign up for account, which in the long run is much better.

Some key takeaways

This post turned into something longer than I expected, but eCommerce is a confusing thing to do so there is a lot to talk about. But when it comes to putting a halt to cart abandonment the three things to remember are:

  • Don’t use your own solution when building payment gateways
  • Understand how your website is being used and where errors appear
  • Make your cart simple to use and don’t force logins