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Abandoning a Cart: Just Part of the Digital Shopping Experience

Younger users more likely to drop before conversion

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%).