Fresh Relevance shopping cart abandonment report

Why consumers abandon their shopping carts and how to win them back

It’s hard to imagine cart abandonment happening in a brick-and-mortar store, having a shopper reach the till with their chosen item before placing it in the hands of the bemused shop assistant and walking straight out of the door without glancing back.

Yet cart abandonment is a common problem in eCommerce and can be frustrating for businesses who have optimized their websites to get more shoppers to the checkout page, only to have them vanish before completing their purchases.

A key step towards reducing your cart abandonment rate is understanding why shoppers abandon their carts in the first place, and then having effective tactics in place to encourage people back to your online store.

Together with Censuswide, we polled 2000 consumers across the UK to find out why shoppers abandon their carts and the marketing tactics that are most likely to bring them back to the website.

Key takeaways:

  • Cart abandonment is a widespread issue, with 82% of shoppers saying they’ve abandoned a shopping cart in the past.
  • Many consumers who have abandoned a cart plan on coming back later. 41% of people say they add items to their cart to save them for a future browse session and 40% say they get frustrated when they return to a retailer’s website and their cart has timed out.
  • Price sensitivity is a key reason for cart abandonment. 41% of consumers cite expensive shipping costs as a top reason for abandoning their shopping carts, 31% say they’ve abandoned a cart to compare prices with other brands and 24% get frustrated when they return to retailer’s website and the item they had carted has increased in price.
  • Price-based communications are an effective way to bring shoppers back to your site. 46% of consumers say they would return to a retailer’s website after receiving an email informing them that a product in their cart has dropped in price, and 45% say a discount code for the items in their cart would encourage them to complete their purchase.
  • Consumers expect a seamless cross-channel experience, with 20% saying they get frustrated when they return to a retailer’s website from a different device after abandoning a cart, but the retailer doesn’t recognize them on the device and their cart is empty. This is a higher concern amongst younger generations, with 29% of consumers aged 16-34 feeling frustrated about this.

Percentage of consumers who have abandoned a shopping cart

Top 5 reasons consumers abandon their shopping carts

Price sensitivity is a key factor in cart abandonment – almost 1 in 2 consumers say they’ve abandoned their shopping cart because the shipping costs were too expensive and almost 1 in 3 say they wanted to compare prices with other brands.

The data also reveals that what looks like cart abandonment can often just be part of consumers’ browsing habits. Almost 1 in 2 consumers say they wanted to save their cart for later and more than 1 in 3 say they were just browsing. Online product discovery is particularly popular with younger consumers, with 44% of Gen Z and 46% of Millennials stating they were just window shopping. Offering a wishlist function can help entice consumers to create an account and help retailers better understand at what stage of the purchase journey they are.

Some consumers are also put off by having to create an account, with 19% of shoppers citing this as the reason they’ve abandoned a cart. This shows the importance of making your checkout process as frictionless as possible, for example by offering guest checkout.

Top consumer frustrations when returning to a retailer’s website after abandoning their shopping cart

As discussed, cart abandonment can often be part of consumers’ browsing habits. So it follows that almost half of consumers say they’ve experienced frustration at returning to a retailer’s website and finding their cart has timed out and was empty. This means it’s important to make it easy for shoppers to find the items they had left behind when they’re ready to complete their purchase.

Similarly, 1 in 5 consumers say they get frustrated when they return to the retailer’s website using a different device but the retailer doesn’t recognize them on the device and their cart is empty. This demonstrates the importance of creating a cohesive cross-channel customer experience, which includes having a cart abandonment solution that offers multi-device cart rebuild. More than 1 in 4 16-34 year olds are frustrated by this, which could indicate the younger consumers are more likely to shop using several devices.

Bearing in mind the price sensitivity we discussed in the previous section, it’s no surprise that almost 1 in 4 consumers get frustrated when they return to a retailer’s website and the item they had carted has increased in price. And related to unwanted surprises, almost 1 in 3 consumers experience frustration when they return to a retailer’s website and the item they had carted has sold out. We’ll discuss tactics to combat both of these frustrations in the next section.

Top 5 email communications that encourage shoppers to return to a retailer’s website after abandoning a cart

Almost 1 in 2 consumers say they would be encouraged to return to a retailer’s website if they received an email informing them that a product they added to their cart has dropped in price. So if you haven’t already got triggered price drop emails in place, now is the time to get started.

Likewise, 45% of consumers would return to a retailer’s website if they received an email with a discount code for the items in their cart, so it’s worth assessing your coupon marketing strategy adding a discount code into your triggered cart abandonment email program.

Learn more: When to use incentives in cart abandonment emails

More than 1 in 4 consumers say an email listing the items in their cart would encourage them to return to the retailer’s website, so make sure you’re sending timely cart abandonment emails that include the details and images of the carted products.

1 in 5 consumers would return to a retailer’s website after getting an email informing them that the items in their cart are low in stock. Try adding scarcity messaging to your cart abandonment emails or send low in stock emails to let shoppers know when the products they’re interested in are in short supply. You can also add popularity messaging to show how many people are looking at or purchasing the items in the shopper’s cart. This type of social proof is a great way to add urgency to your cart abandonment emails.

Finally, 15% of consumers say they would return to a retailer’s website after receiving an email with recommendations for similar products based on what they added to their cart. Interestingly, younger consumers are more keen to receive these types of emails, with 26% of Gen Z finding them useful. Try testing the impact of personalized product recommendations in your cart abandonment emails, especially if you’re targeting a younger demographic, as it can be an effective tactic to connect shoppers with the right product for them.

Compared to cost-effective email marketing tactics, PPC is much less likely to sway shoppers’ minds. We found that only 4% of consumers are enticed by online ads to complete their purchase and even less by social media ads (3%). In times of strained marketing budgets, this can be seen as good news for retailers.

Learn more: 10 amazing cart and browse abandonment emails

Top 5 email communications that encourage shoppers to return to a retailer’s website after abandoning a browse session

Browse abandonment can be even more frustrating for retailers than cart abandonment. You know people are perusing your products, but for one reason or another they slip away without clicking ‘add to cart’.

However, there are ways to entice them back. Again, price drop emails are consumers’ top motivator for returning to a retailer’s website, closely followed by a discount code for the items the shopper has browsed.

There is also a desire for back-in-stock emails, with more than 1 in 4 consumers saying they would return to a retailer’s website after receiving an email informing them that an out-of-stock item they had browsed is back in stock. Including a request option on your product pages to be notified when the item is restocked is a good idea, but sending triggered back in stock emails is even more effective, since you can target anyone in your database who has browsed an out of stock product rather than only those shoppers who had to request it explicitly.

Learn more: 3 ways to optimize your out of stock pages

Almost 1 in 5 consumers say an email listing the items that they’ve browsed would encourage them to return to the retailer’s website, so make sure you’re sending timely triggered browse abandonment emails that include the details and images of the browsed products. Personalized product recommendations are also a good addition here, as perhaps even more so than when a shopper has carted an item, abandoning a browse session could indicate that the shopper didn’t find what they were looking for and may need more inspiration. Again, Gen Z consumers are more keen to receive product recommendations, so it’s especially worth considering this tactic if your brand is targeted at younger consumers.

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