Your Guide to Preventing Basket Abandonment

By Kelly Aitkin • Last updated: Wednesday May 1st, 2024

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The average shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.57%.1

Let’s put that into context. If 100 of your customers add items to their baskets, almost 70 of them will never complete the checkout process.

Failing to convince these engaged shoppers to convert is a lost opportunity for online retailers.

But don’t worry. With a clearly defined strategy, you can use abandonment cart emails and campaigns to improve conversions and communicate with your customers on a more personal level.

What is cart abandonment?

Cart abandonment, also known as basket abandonment, occurs when a user engages with your products and adds items to their basket but abandons your site before completing the checkout process.

According to The Telegraph, ‘The average abandoned basket is worth £30 a month, potentially resulting in more than £18bn of lost sales each year.’2

This means that having a basket abandonment strategy in place can be instrumental to increasing sales through your site.

Reasons for cart abandonment

There are a whole host of possible reasons why a customer abandons their cart and it’s important from a business perspective to understand the potential causes.

There can be many complications in a buying journey, from technical issues to personal circumstances. A user may not complete their purchase due to:

  • Difficulty accessing their preferred payment method
  • A complicated user journey
  • A lengthy checkout process
  • Offline distractions or personal reasons
  • Indecision or low purchase intent until payday
  • Technical or browser issues

Whatever the reason for abandoned baskets, there is a chance the customer still wants to buy the products, which is where clever basket abandonment campaigns come into play that allow you to recover lost sales.

Related: Discover more reasons why online shoppers abandon their shopping carts.

Negative effects of basket abandonment

You’ve worked hard to drive traffic to your site and even harder to get visitors to add items to their baskets.

By the time a customer has reached this point in the sales funnel they will already have been targeted with your focused PPC, SEO and paid social efforts.

If you then fail to secure a purchase, this will have a negative impact on your eCommerce business, from declining profit margins to missing out on brand ambassadors.

1. Lost revenue

If the traffic you’re driving to your site is abandoning their baskets before making a purchase, it’s likely your conversion rate is suffering.

Without a basket abandonment strategy in place, you don’t have that final push to convince those undecided customers to make a purchase, often resulting in lost sales.

In time this can have a huge impact on your profit due to the missed opportunity to upsell or cross-sell your products and secure returning customers.

What you can do: Work on lowering your basket abandonment rate by implementing optimised strategies that influence users to complete a purchase.

2. Higher customer acquisition costs

It’s no secret that customer acquisition costs (CAC) have risen in recent years.

If you’re spending money on ads, blog posts or social media to attract new customers but aren’t focusing on how best to convert these users, your customer acquisition costs will increase.

There are a few ways you can tackle your high CAC:

  • Focus on organic content: Channels like social media, email marketing and referral marketing are effective ways to drive customers to your store without high costs attached to them.
  • Increase your AOV: Reviewing your pricing strategy can help balance out your CAC over time. Try creating a minimum order for free delivery or upsell on complementary products.
  • Prioritise appropriate audiences: Identify your target market to ensure your campaigns are reaching potential customers that will complete a purchase with you.

Considerations: Profit is often the ultimate goal, but this can vary depending on a business and its brand awareness.

For example, many online stores attract new visitors with deals or special offers or ‘first month free’ subscriptions.

This may lower margins in the short run, but boost customer lifetime value to see higher ROI in the long term.

3. Increased retargeting costs

Retargeting campaigns are an extremely effective way to redirect abandoned shoppers back to your site to complete a purchase.

However, the higher your basket abandonment rate, the more you’re going to need to spend to try and recover those lost sales.

That doesn’t mean you should neglect your retargeting campaigns altogether, but why not prevent the user from leaving in the first place and save your resources?

Some common reasons a user abandons your site in the first place include:

  • Extra costs that are too high
  • Don’t trust your website
  • Strict return policies
  • Lack of payment options

Start with the basics. Outline the reasons a user may be leaving your online store and rectify the problems.

You’ll notice a lower basket abandonment rate, reduced retargeting costs and an increase in customer loyalty.

4. Missed customer loyalty opportunities

When customers abandon their purchase at the last minute, you’re also missing out on developing a relationship with them to secure future purchases. 

A basket abandonment strategy will help you to understand where in the user journey shoppers are abandoning their cart and why this might be.

Customer experience is vital. A positive user experience from product to checkout page will facilitate quicker conversions and encourage the customer to return time and time again.

As an eCommerce business, you want to provide an excellent on-site experience that:

  • Makes users feel valued and eager to return
  • Lowers customer acquisition costs
  • Nurtures and engages users throughout the buying process

The phrase ‘cart abandonment’ may fill you with dread but there’s plenty more your site could be doing to ensure your marketing and CRO efforts are capitalising on conversions.

With average eCommerce conversion rates standing between 1-2%, small changes can make significant improvements to your sales.3

What you can do: Consider using Google Analytics and surveys in cart abandonment emails to get deeper insights into how and where the customer experience can be improved.

How you can prevent cart abandonment

Once you understand the reasons why shoppers could be leaving your site without making a purchase the next step is to take a holistic look at your website and evaluate the touch points you could be capitalising on and how to recover abandoned baskets.

1. Be clear and transparent

49% of customers report that extra costs are the main reason they abandon their basket.4

Shoppers want to have a plan for how much they’re spending, the payment method they’re using and how they can make a return if needed.

You should also ensure you’re upfront about order and delivery costs to build trust and avoid unwanted surprises at checkout:

  • Clearly display extra costs: Whether in your product descriptions or on promotional banners, put any additional costs in an easy-to-find place to boost trust in your site.
  • Offer free shipping: According to UPS, 58% of customers add more items to their basket in order to qualify for free delivery.5
  • Provide free returns: Since 52% of shoppers are unlikely to shop with a retailer if they charge for returns, offer free returns to encourage users to checkout and return to shop with you.6
  • Offer buy now pay later options: Make payment options like buy now pay later schemes easy to find and understand to give customers the reassurance they need to purchase and reduce checkout abandonment.

Related: See our top 10 ways to reduce basket abandonment.

2. Build trust with messaging

Communication is a key definer between sites.

Get it right and you can expect users to return time and again. Get it wrong and shoppers won’t complete their first purchase.

Ensuring you clearly describe items in your product descriptions can not only encourage conversions but also reduce returns in the long run too.

In addition to accurate copy on product pages, you can use dynamic messaging throughout the user journey.

An Overlay enhanced user experience can promote discounts or encourage customers to reach a free delivery threshold, driving them ever closer to purchasing with timely, strategic messaging.

Setting specific triggers and dynamic messaging for shoppers who are near the checkout or have items in their basket can persuade someone who is going to abandon to stay and complete their order.

3. Create urgency

Stop checkout abandonment before customers even show intent to exit with urgency marketing.

Creating urgency with FOMO on checkout and product pages can persuade customers to purchase instantly and prevent abandoned shopping carts.

In the case of basket abandonment, users are engaged, and interested in your products and are only a few clicks away from completing a purchase, so use exit intent technology to detect when a user is about to leave your site to display tailored messages at crucial moments in the buyer journey.

  • Utilise messaging on-site: Show countdown timers for limited-time offers with CRO solutions like Digital Assistant to encourage shoppers to purchase immediately.
  • Display product purchases: Display information on high-demand products to reinforce social proof that creates trust in your brand and encourages a sale.
  • Offering a discount code: Create urgency with a limited time discount code while giving users an extra incentive to complete a purchase with you.

These exit intent strategies could also be incorporated into your email marketing strategy, which can encourage the customer to leave their email address to receive a link to their saved baskets.

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4. Re-engage shoppers with basket abandonment emails

Sometimes even your best efforts can’t stop a customer from abandoning their basket, this is when Email Retargeting comes into play.

Abandoned order emails automatically re-engage customers if they have exited the checkout page before completing a purchase.

Using this software, you can send a single or series of cart recovery emails to encourage a user to return to their basket and complete their order at a later time using tailored emails like a personalised subject line to persuade customers to complete their orders.

Pro tip: A well-designed email with engaging copy, a clear call to action and personalised content could be a successful last attempt to secure a conversion.

Related: Make sure you get the most out of your Basket Abandonment Emails.

5. Optimise the experience

You want to make it as easy as possible for users to purchase from your site, even the most invested shoppers can abandon their basket at the last hurdle if they’re having a poor on-site experience.

You want to make it as easy as possible for users to purchase from your site – so don’t overcomplicate the checkout process.

According to Baymard, 28% of customers abandon their carts because they had to create an account and 21% didn’t complete their purchase because the checkout process was too long.7

These figures show how pivotal the checkout process is to nudging sales over the final hurdle.

Offering a guest checkout option and simplifying your form fields can secure these additional sales and prevent users from abandoning their online shopping carts.

Making sure all pages on your site are running as smoothly as possible will allow customers to easily make their way through the customer journey and not block their path to converting.

How to measure the results of your cart abandonment strategy

Monitoring the rate customers abandon their baskets can help you to understand how your strategy is improving your conversions.

Whether your campaigns are to create urgency or to re-engage lost customers, consider trying the below:

  • A/B Testing: Take the guesswork out of it and analyse data to see which campaigns work best to help you make an informed decision to re-inject customers into the sales funnel to complete a purchase.
  • Google Analytics: Define your goals and monitor your stats. Use analytics to observe consumer behaviour and have clear insights into how your strategy impacts your results over time.

Data is key. You’ll have clear insights and opportunities you can do to optimise your overall basket abandonment strategy.

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The future of cart abandonment

The eCommerce space is continually growing, offering both great sales opportunities and more competition.

Retailers now need to work harder to stand out to their customers from other competitors and basket abandonment plays a necessary role in this process.

Offering personalised experiences and unique incentives, our AI-powered CRO tools can work alongside a detailed basket abandonment strategy to increase conversions and encourage repeat customers.

1 48 Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics 2022 | Baymard Institute

2 Shopping Basket Abandonment: The online blight costing retailers £18bn a year | The Telegraph

3 30 eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimisation Steps to Help Boost Sales | BigCommerce

4 48 Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics 2022 | Baymard Institute

5 The Free Delivery Phenomenon: 11 Pros & Cons Every Business Should Consider |

6 Can free returns drive sales? | Royal Mail

7 48 Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics 2022 | Baymard Institute

To discuss basket abandonment strategies for your business, contact a member of our team on 0204 505 9040 or book a free 15-minute consultation.