Cart abandonment has always been a key issue for ecommerce retailers. Historically, the main driver has been related to shipping fees and the “sticker shock” that occurs when customers are hit with a massive shipping cost right at the end of the process.

With Covid, this experience has evolved and isn’t just prompted by the cost of shipping but also the lack of available options and flexibility offered to shoppers.  Add ecommerce sites without a suite of options and consumers are driven away from their basket in search of an alternative that fits their needs.

With the new year underway, many retailers are focusing on how they can convert every last dollar of online sales by looking for strategies to address these consumer behavioural shifts.

What is driving cart abandonment for shoppers?

Despite some improvements in recent months, regular cart abandonment continues to be a problem with APAC witnessing the most abandoned carts overall (73.88%). While cart abandonment can sometimes be driven by one particular issue, more often than not it’s the sum of multiple factors which cause shoppers to give up mid-transaction. One of the biggest causes is frustration at the checkout, according to BigCommerce’s 2021 State of Ecommerce Report.  For a massive 79% of shoppers, too many pages, long load times, lack of preferred payment methods, re-entering information, too many details requested or unexpected charges had led to cart abandonment.

Slow site speed, mandatory account creation and buggy or unstable ecommerce sites can all contribute to driving cart abandonment. But there’s not a specific aspect of the online shopping process where consumers demand speed – it’s the entire experience. From the moment a prospective buyer lands on the storefront to adding items to the cart and every step thereafter, the entire checkout process needs to flow seamlessly.

Online shopping cart abandonment could become more prevalent amongst Gen Z consumers, with 57%  less loyal to brands and 63% having less patience with poorly functioning websites. This is  a highly engaged generation that is heavily exposed and influenced by cultural, social and political factors from a young age.  Those exposures have created very specific values and behaviours that have already impacted the way this generation engages with brands and what they expect from them.

In apparel retail shoppers often browse rather than buy, regularly adding items to the cart with no intention of purchasing all of them. According to research conducted by Canstar in January 2021, the top five categories shoppers regularly abandoned are fashion; books and games; hair and beauty products; fitness equipment and homewares.

The road to reducing cart abandonment

The key to minimising cart abandonment is putting the choice into the customer’s hands and letting them decide. Don’t lose out by not offering the flexibility that today’s online shopper demands. This means providing several different delivery options, offering different speeds and a range of price points to catch every preference.

Focusing on customer retention and implementing strategies to reduce cart abandonment wherever possible will also be a defining factor of success here. This means understanding your target market, their shopping behaviour, what they would consider frustrating and minimise those hurdles at checkout.  Retailers need to give their customers confidence to guarantee repeat business.

There are a number of simple steps retailers can take, starting with ensuring inventory is stocked and regularly testing site speed and reliability. From here offering faster checkout experiences and optimising the checkout process with a range of payment methods, including biometrics and passwordless authentication, will make the transaction process as smooth as possible.

Equally, proactive engagement with shoppers can convert leads that would otherwise have been lost. By enabling cart abandonment notifications, merchants can identify those who have walked away from their basket and find the best way to bring them back, either through follow-up emails, retargeting advertisements or SMS reminders.

Reducing your shopping cart abandonment rate will be an ongoing process.  These tactics can improve rates in the short-term, however the key is to make your site adaptable, allowing you to cater to customer needs and frustrations where shopping habits are constantly evolving.

If we can be certain about one thing, it’s that checkout experiences that are frustrating and time consuming are more likely to cause shoppers to abandon their purchase. Retailers who make improving this a priority will be able to remove the frictions that lead to high cart abandonment rates and ensure nothing is left on the table.

Jordan Sim is senior director of product management at BigCommerce.