Abandoned cart rates have been sitting comfortably at around 75% for far too long, and it's time we started to figure out what could be causing so many shoppers to leave empty-handed.

Understanding buyer psychology can bring us a step closer to knowing which sections of the shopping journey to optimise, and which to eliminate.


With quite an even spread of abandonment across retail, this is a huge issue for businesses to overcome.

We've taken a look at the reasons why carts are being left behind, complete with our suggestions in how to tackle this problem head-on.

Surprise Costs at Checkout

A surefire way to damage customer relations is to spring unexpected costs at the basket stage, and once the trust is broken you are unlikely to get it back again.

The customer's attitude towards their intended purchase will completely change if they feel cheated in any way, which could result in them leaving site and buying elsewhere.


Transparency throughout is vital in maintaining credibility, and your customer will ultimately find out about any hidden extras for delivery, or card fees, so it is important to be upfront with information from the start.

One strategy, as used by Waitrose, is to raise awareness of potential extra charges as soon as the customer lands on the selected page. Free delivery is fine, but only after you have reached the threshold for spend. This helps lessen any negative effects by highlighting the fact before it becomes an issue.


The moment the thought enters into a customer's mind that there might be something amiss with costs, you are already risking the sale.

By offering snippets of information nice and early, the customer can register and accept your processes.

Forced Membership

Customers who are in the buying state of mind need to be given the freedom to shop without too many distractions.

As high as 22% of customers will give up on their shopping cart if they have to take the time to register an account, which is hardly surprising when you consider the modern, fast-paced shopper of today.

Introducing the option to checkout as a guest will show your flexibility and save time for the customer, with a subtle hint that you would prefer they create an account for future purchases.


Membership accounts are great to speed up checkout processes and strengthen customer profiles, and you may well find that customers are not anti-membership, rather they were simply not prepared to have to take the extra 5-10 minutes right now.

A wiser approach would be to collect email addresses alongside the delivery information and target customers after the point of sale, perhaps offering incentives to create their membership account and draw shoppers back to site once more.


The ability to segment your data to find which customers shopped using a guest account will help you to personalise the message even further, giving a consistently pleasant service throughout.

Window Shopping

Studies indicate that we don't always have a particular product in mind when browsing online, and many shoppers may simply be researching for future purchases.

Researchers are usually looking at two things; product and cost. This is your chance to shine as a trusted source of information to guide their shopping journey, rather than trying to push for a sale and risk scaring them away.


Give as much helpful insight as possible to build trust in your services, such as recommending products which support their choice, or suggesting accessories to paint a picture of how the end result could look.

Establishing a bond with a customer, even those who haven't yet purchased, isn't restricted to onsite activity. Instead, look at omni-channel interactions and the overall aesthetics of your brand to make the browsing experience beautiful from start to finish.


Unfortunately, there will always be a small percentage of customers who are solely interested in finding the cheapest price, but most people realise that you get what you pay for, and poor service often comes hand in hand with cheap supply.

Theft of Payment Details

This is seemingly the most obvious, yet easiest, way to instil trust in the consumer, but around 17% of shoppers still report unease when it comes to parting with their bank details online.

Theft occurs in all walks of life, online as well as in a physical setting, so it is important to take the necessary precautions and to show browsing customers that you take data security seriously.


Adding widgets strategically around site to confirm your payment providers, partners and antivirus suppliers will help customers to feel comfortable in the level of professionalism offered to them.

The use of widgets will act as a visual display of confidence which can build credibility for your brand. Customer review information which is linked through to site will also work hand in hand, reaffirming to browsing shoppers that you have been, and can be, trusted with sensitive information.


It is a brand responsibility to create a safe and comfortable shopping environment, so adding trust signals throughout the website will certainly help to raise customer confidence.

Once questions regarding safety and security enter into the customer's mind you have essentially sliced into the likelihood that they will complete the purchase, so it is important to display your merits before the customer thinks to ask.

Excessive Checkout Process

The number of clicks between the customer deciding to buy an item and completion of their order is an important factor in holding a shopper's undivided attention.

Recommending products and attempting to up-sell is an important step for e-Commerce marketers, but it is more effective to employ this when products are added to basket, rather than at payment stage.


Once the customer moves through to checkout stage they are leaving the buying frame of mind and, unless the purchase can be finalised fast, the chances of converting a sale start to diminish by the second.

Generally speaking, the checkout stage is the least stimulating section of the entire shopping journey. The decision to purchase has already been made, which is great, but data entry and card details are a just a chore.


To combat this, you need to ensure a smooth process every time, with limited distractions and information on hand should the customer need to check up on a point, such as expandable boxes with delivery times, or return policies.

Avoid using too much jargon, or being overly salesy. The customer has made their decision at this point, and needs to move through the practicalities of their purchase with fluency.

So what now?

Abandoned carts will always be a thorn in the side for e-Tailers, but the key thing to remember is that trust is the most important factor - and it manifests itself in all of our points above.

Don't just focus energy on pushing people through the checkout, but take the time to form a lasting relationship with your customers.

And finally, remember to try to catch as many lost customers as possible by using a strong email re-targeting strategy, which our handy blog can help you with by clicking here.