How to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

07 Dec 2015

Heads Up Before August 2018 Saber was known as "BugMuncher", so you'll see the name BugMuncher instead of Saber throughout these older posts. You can read more about the name change here - BugMuncher rebrands to Saber.

Shopping cart abandonment is unavoidable, it’s not possible to achieve 0% abandonment, as there will always be some customers who add things to their cart, with out ever intending to purchase. Having said that, there are many things you can do to keep shopping cart abandonment to a minimum.

If you’re looking to reduce basket abandonment, the first thing I’d recommend is to think about any times you’ve been shopping online and not quite made it to payment. We’ve all done it one time or another, and with good reason, so think about why you’ve abandoned carts in the past, and make sure your online shop does all it can to avoid that.

Here’s some things that have caused me to abandon shopping carts:

Crouching tiger, hidden shipping costs

To quote the great Thom Yorke of Radiohead, “No surprises, please”. I understand shipping costs money, all customers do, but generally people have a rough idea in their head of what shipping should cost, so what ever you do, don’t inflate your shipping costs.

If you can, offering free shipping is the best way to avoid loosing potential sales on shipping cost. If you can’t do that, offer a shipping cost calculator on on the product page, and make sure you’re shipping costs are competitive.

Coupon hunting season

If ever I see a ‘Coupon Code’ field when checking out, you can guarantee I’ll be going straight to Google to search for “[shop name] coupon”, I’ll usually spend a few minutes on horrible ad-filled, seizure inducing coupon sites, before giving up, and going back to the checkout.

The weird thing is, even though I was happy to pay full price a minute ago, since seeing that coupon field, suddenly I feel like I’m being ripped off, like I could be missing out on a better deal. Usually I’ll still make the purchase, but depending on what it is I’m buying, I may now shop around a bit more to see if I can save money, or possibly not make the purchase at all. All because of one little field on the checkout page.

If you have coupon field on your checkout, ask yourself why? How often do you give out coupons? What are they for? Instead of having a coupon field, you could apply them directly to user’s accounts, or when sending them out in emails, include the coupon as part of the URL, so the user doesn’t have to manually enter it.

If you absolutely must have a coupon field, try having a button that says something like “Got a coupon?”, and then only show the field when that button is clicked.


When ever I’m entering payment details when shopping online, I always glance up to the address bar to make sure that the connection is secure, and correctly set up. If I see the connection is not encrypted at all (http:// instead of https://) there’s no way I’ll be completing the checkout process. And I’m sure I’m not alone in that. You can get an SSL certificate from somewhere like namecheap for less than $10 per year, so there really is no excuse.

If I look up and see that the certificate is invalid, or the page contains insecure elements, I may still make the purchase, but chances are I’ll go elsewhere.

Forced Accounts

I find this one particularly annoying - I click checkout and I’m presented with two options: Log In and Create Account. When this happens my brain executes the following little flow chart:

This is why you really should always allow users to checkout as a guest, you’ll still be capturing their email address, so there’s no reason to force them to create an account. If I don’t think I’m going to be making frequent purchases, I won’t bother to go through the hassle of creating an account. And if there’s no option to complete the checkout with out registering, I won’t complete the checkout.

Shut up and take my money!

AKA Too much upselling & cross-selling. Don’t get me wrong, upselling and cross-selling are great techniques, and ones you should be definitely be using, but use them in moderation. When I’m on the shopping cart page feel free to show me some other products I might be interested in, but don’t interrupt the purchase process to try and sell me extra shit.

Domain registrars are often guilty of this - after clicking the Checkout button, you’re taken to an intermediate page that exists solely to try and sell you add-ons like domain privacy. Even worse are insurance companies, I recently took out a new motor insurance policy, and there were six, yes Six Pages of this, each trying to sell me some other add-on:

Upsell 1 - No, if I'd wanted "Premier Cover", I would have chosen it.

Upsell 2 - No thanks.

Upsell 3 - Next!

This went on for three more pages! They tried to sell me breakdown cover, substitute vehicle cover, and even cover for lost or stolen keys. Luckily for this insurance company I’d already chosen them from a comparison site based on the price and included benefits, so I persevered, but had this been any other purchase, I would have given up after the first or second page of upsells.

So there’s some things that have caused me to abandon shopping carts in the past, I’d love to hear about any other people can thing of, if you’ve got any to add, please leave a comment below.


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