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Top Reasons Customers Abandon Online Shopping Carts

Abandoned shopping carts are the bane of every online retailer’s existence—and at this crucial time of year, abandoned carts can cost you big time. To help you avoid this problem, it’s important to know what you’re doing wrong. A recent study by probed the most common reasons customers abandon shopping carts. Here are the top reasons they found—and ideas for getting around them.

Among today’s cost-conscious and sale-oriented consumers, I’m not surprised to see that four of the six reasons for abandoning carts had to do with price.

  • I decided he purchase was too expensive (41 percent)
  • I found a better price on another website (34 percent)I couldn’t find a coupon code (15 percent)
  • I only use the shopping cart to check prices (14 percent)
  • I was confused at the checkout process (11 percent)
  • None of the above (22 percent)

One reason the study didn’t list, but that I’m hearing more and more of my friends mention, is consumers loading their carts with items to save for later—either as a wish list of sorts, or to wait until a coupon code or offer comes around that makes purchasing the items worth their while.

So how can you deal with abandoned shopping carts? There are ways you can help eliminate them both before and after the fact.


  • Total up prices as the consumer adds items to the cart so they don’t get “sticker shock” at the end.
  • Clearly place links to your shipping policy/prices so customers can estimate shipping costs (if any) before they fill up their cart. Better yet, offer a shipping cost calculator widget on the site.
  • If you have a price-triggered free shipping offer, follow Amazon’s lead and alert customers how much more they need to buy to reach it: “You can get FREE SHIPPING by adding just $3.14 more to your cart.” Display related low-cost, add-on items the customer might want to buy.


  • Use automated systems to trigger reminder emails about customers’ carts. Sometimes customers legitimately get interrupted and forget about a cart. Include enticing photos of the items to whet the customers’ appetite for them.
  • If a trigger email doesn’t work, send a second email with an offer such as percentage off or free shipping. Encourage action by making this time-sensitive, such as “Buy in the next 24 hours and get 20 percent off the items in your cart.”
  • Alert customers if items in their cart are getting low in stock. This can spur buying by creating an aura of scarcity. “Only two left in stock! Don’tmiss out.”