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17 Practical Ways to Reduce Cart Abandonment (Step-By-Step)

By Jon MacDonald
23 minute read | Last Updated: August 16, 2018

Seven of every ten online shoppers on average bail without making the purchase. Here’s how to reduce cart abandonment rate and increase conversions.

What percentage of your ecommerce shoppers begin to load up a cart, but abandon it before completing the checkout sequence?

Your consumers are coming incredibly close to completing their transactions, only to rush away at the last minute. Fortunately, with the right tactics, you can drastically cut your cart abandonment rates.

Think of the revenue spike you could get by learning how to reduce cart abandonment today. Now multiply that by 17. That’s how many shopping cart optimization tips you’ll find here.

On average, about seven of every ten online shoppers bail out without making the purchase (see the chart below). What if you could reduce your cart abandonment rate and also increase your conversion rate?

Think of it this way: the amount you can reduce your cart abandonment is directly proportional to the amount you can increase your conversion rate. Use this tool to quickly calculate what that would mean to your business: CRO Impact Calculator.

In this article, we’re going to give you 17 proven ways to get more of your shoppers completely through the path to purchase. These tips are practical, actionable, and field-tested.

We’ve seen companies increase sales by 600 percent and more by optimizing the checkout procedure. If you’ll focus on one or two of these action items each day for the next few weeks, you could end up with the best sales numbers in a single month since Black Friday.

Click on each tactic to uncover the steps you can take to reduce your cart abandonment rate today.

cart abandonment

17 actions you can take to reduce cart abandonment (table of contents)

  1. Highlight your shipping terms (even if you don’t ship free) to remove anxiety and make more sales
  2. Make sure every page on your site loads in a hurry to keep your bounce rate low and avoid irritating potential customers
  3. Make your return policy prominent and matter-of-fact to reduce fear and build trust
  4. Give them a reason to buy here and now to short-circuit the price shoppers and get a commitment
  5. Drive home the benefits of shopping with you and they will lose their desire to look elsewhere
  6. Provide chat or phone help 24/7 to answer all questions and get the order placed now
  7. Show contact information plainly on every page to build trust and establish the ready availability of customer service
  8. Use testimonials and reviews abundantly as social proof of why doing business with you is an excellent idea
  9. Make directions and CTAs exceedingly clear to avoid confusing and losing prospective buyers
  10. Provide plenty of payment options and stop turning customers away
  11. Leverage one-click shopping for repeat customers to make it even easier for them to keep buying from you
  12. Make sure your error messages are helpful and friendly to prevent shoppers from perceiving your customer service as rude and uncaring
  13. Audit the entire checkout procedure to maximize conversions
  14. Make it easy for shoppers to make changes to the cart in order to prevent frustration and keep them engaged
  15. Display seals of trust and use secure transaction methods so shoppers will feel safe when they provide their payment information
  16. Don’t give them reasons to get distracted and abandon their carts to increase the likelihood of getting the order
  17. Make all surprises good surprises – they’ll love you for it and reward you by adding even more to the shopping cart

Here’s the short course on how you can get more sales: reduce fear, build trust, and make it super-easy for people to buy from you.

cart abandonment

Note that each of our 17 tactics is aimed at one (or all) of the goals shown in the graphic above. Here’s the breakdown of steps you can take to make sure they’re working for you.

1. Highlight your shipping terms (even if you don’t ship free) to remove anxiety and make more sales.

Why it matters: “Expensive shipping” is the number one reason digital shoppers give for abandoning a cart (see the chart above). This tactic is aimed at turning objections about shipping charges into reasons to buy from you.

Ways to take action today:

  • State clear shipping costs on the first page of your cart. Hiding this until the last step of checkout will certainly frustrate buyers and lose the sale.
  • Set up appointments to negotiate with carriers. We’ve seen companies drop their shipping costs by 20 percent or more just by comparing rates and asking for a better deal.
  • Consider offering a flat rate to customers. That takes the guesswork out of how much shipping will cost and gives them a reason to buy even more on each order. You may not be able to recoup all shipping expenses, but you’ll get some of it back and you’ll build customer loyalty in the process. The increased average order value will cover any costs of shipping.
  • If you can’t justify a flat rate, consider using tiered shipping rates to make the charges equitable to all buyers. Rates go up as the total order goes up, but they still seem reasonable in comparison.
  • Offer free shipping when orders reach a certain total amount. You may want to do that only for frequent shoppers or for those who join your membership club. To really gain attention and good will, find a way to provide free shipping for all.


Your primary consideration is to develop a shipping plan that shows shoppers you have their best interests at heart – then to make that plan evident right up front. If you save shipping information for the final checkout, you’re sure to irritate shoppers and be plagued by an excessively high shopping cart abandonment rate.

2. Make sure every page on your site loads in a hurry to keep your bounce rate low and avoid irritating potential customers.

Why it matters: Site speed is a topic that’s often overlooked, but can deliver a serious blow to userexperience on your ecommerce website. Any page that takes more than a few seconds to load in the shopper’s browser will encourage that person to look elsewhere. At four seconds, you’ll lose up to a quarter of your visitors. At eight seconds, more than one in three will have moved on. Your conversion rate will slip accordingly.

Ways to take action today:

  • Make sure the person heading up your design efforts clearly understands that sales trump beauty.
  • Set up an ongoing page load speed testing process and keep a record of the results.
  • Pages that load slower than three seconds should be optimized for fast response.
  • Always be working to drive load speeds down to a minimum.
  • Check both desktop and mobile results.
  • Get your creative and IT teams working together on load speed.

If you want your visitors to stay with you long enough to see what you offer, then get them to the content they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Slow load times turn them away fast.

3. Make your return policy prominent and matter-of-fact to reduce fear and build trust.

Why it matters: An unsatisfactory or hidden return policy can stop you from getting the order. Online shoppers often count on a photo and description to evaluate a product. They want to feel assured they’ll be satisfied with the item when it arrives. Your return policy can help remove any fear they have about placing the order.

Don’t just create a consumer-friendly return policy, though. Bring it up and brag about it. Make it easy to find and read.

Ways to take action today:

According to the 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, here are the primary elements your prospects want to see in your return policy:

  • They want free shipping on returns. That may seem cost prohibitive, but consider that most orders won’t be returned – assuming you’re presenting them accurately and delivering on your promises. Not only that, but the chances of getting a repeat order from someone who returned an item and is pleased with the way you handled it is over 90 percent.
  • They want a hassle-free returns policy. They don’t want to have to call support, listen to hold music, or jump through any other hoops to initiate a return. This point needs some reflection. How can you make returns simple – but not encourage them at the same time?
  • They want to be able to print out return labels easily. Some ecommerce stores even include them with the shipment, though that may be bordering on asking for returns.
  • They want refunds to show up without delay. Yes, what the bank or credit card company does is out of your control, but you can expedite your part of the transaction and let your customers know when you’ve completed it, and what the typical refund times are with credit cards.

Take a close look at your return policy. Is it tilted in the your customers’ favor? Is it easy to understand and simple to use? Is it clearly visible and easy to find on your ecommerce website? The more your prospects trust you, the more likely they are to place an order.

Your return policy is as important as the price or the product. - Harley Finkelstein, Shopify COO - @harleyf Click To Tweet

4. Give them a reason to buy here and now to short-circuit the price shoppers and get a commitment.

Why it matters: If you don’t give them a reason to buy from you, they’re quite likely to keep comparing prices and features until someone does give them a satisfactory reason to buy.

Of the seven primary types of shoppers, only one is ready to buy now – but for that type, you still need to ask for the order and make sure your site is optimized for order placement.

Ways to take action today:

  • Looking for the best price: offer bundles, show value, provide a discount, highlight benefits, make it possible for visitors to comparison shop without leaving your website.
  • Looking for the most up-to-date model: Provide plenty of information about what’s newest and how to get it. Make it easy to find the current model.
  • Looking to belong: Give them plenty to look at, but highlight benefits and build desire. Give them an opportunity to join an exclusive club. Invite them to be part of the family.
  • Looking for quality: Give them access to complete specifications and comparisons. Provide explainer videos. Make sure the illustrations, photos, and descriptions are high-quality.
  • Looking to buy it now: Use time-sensitive offers. Make buying from you the easiest thing they’ve done all day.


You’re in business to sell stuff. Never be ashamed of asking for the order. Don’t hide the fact that you’re in business. Be proud of it.

5. Drive home the benefits of shopping with you and they will lose their desire to look elsewhere.

Why it matters: One of the most important things everyone in your company needs to know and exemplify is why prospects should buy from you instead of a competitor. What is it about your company that makes you different?

Ways to take action today:

  • Revisit your primary USP (unique selling proposition). Is it central to your branding? Is it recognizable by your audience and demonstrated by the way you do business?
  • Make sure everyone in your company – especially those charged with sales and marketing – know your USP and keep it in focus in all interactions with your prospects and customers.
  • List the benefits your best prospects can expect from shopping with you. How do you make them feel special? How do you understand and help them solve one or more of their biggest problems?

Companies that can’t demonstrate a USP don’t tend to stay in business long. Losing sight of why you’re the right choice for your targeted audience gets you off track and creates confusion.

Strong products and services are highly differentiated from all other products and services. It's that simple. It's that difficult. - Austin McGhie, author of “Brand is a Four Letter Word Click To Tweet

6. Provide chat or phone help 24/7 to answer all questions and get the order placed now

Why it matters: There may be just one easy-to-answer question standing between the customer and the purchase. When you make it easy for shoppers to get their questions answered via chat, you remove a barrier that can hold sales back.

Ways to take action today:

  • Audit the methods you’re using now to answer questions shoppers have on your ecommerce site. Are they sufficient?
  • Provide a chatbox and staff it well. An eMarketer study revealed that more than half of customers say they’re more likely to buy from and return to a site that provides live chat.
  • Track inquiries to chat and phone support. Prepare easy-to-access FAQs to cut down on the amount of live support needed.


Use live support to listen to your customers. You’re sure to get new product suggestions, insight on options they would like to have (but you’re not now providing), and a steady stream of priceless feedback from those you serve when you pay attention to their remarks.

7. Show contact information plainly on every page to build trust and establish the ready availability of customer service.

Why it matters: When you highlight the ways your customers can contact you, it’s like reaching out and holding hands with them. Nothing removes fear better than companionship. You can’t physically walk them through your online store, but you can virtually guide them and be there with them each step of the way.

Ways to take action today:

  • Place contact information plainly on every page of your website (with the possible exception of special landing pages).
  • Give visitors plenty of options for contacting you – whether to offer a question, make a suggestion, register a complaint… or any other reason. Customer contact helps you understand your audience and focus your offers directly on their needs.
  • Make sure every avenue you present for encouraging contact is well-monitored and that responses are given in an acceptable time. In the fast-moving world of ecommerce, “right away” is the best time slot.


Even when contact information isn’t needed, it’s comforting to see. Shoppers want to know you’re real, you’re available, and you care.

8. Use testimonials and reviews abundantly as social proof of why doing business with you is an excellent idea.

Why it matters: You don’t need a psychologist to tell you how important social proof is to ecommerce. Like the rest of us, you frequently check reviews before placing an order for an unfamiliar product. We tend to believe others (even if we’ve never met them) quicker than we believe the seller. It’s human nature.

Ways to take action today:

  • Make a habit of collecting and filing testimonials from your customers. Get your staff involved in the process.
  • Place reviews and testimonials abundantly throughout your site, especially on product pages and sales pages.
  • Allow buyers to rate and review your products. Resist the temptation to stack reviews in your favor or to disallow credible negative reviews.

Implement a variety of social proof methods. Use reviews, ratings, testimonials, and social media clips. Don’t overlook the value of video reviews and testimonials. There’s a direct correlation between the number of reviews for a product and the conversion rate.

The dominant social force that drives our thinking and our actions is the unconscious search and need for social proof. (Dr. Dragos Bratasanu) Click To Tweet

9. Make directions and CTAs exceedingly clear to avoid confusing and losing prospective buyers.

Why it matters: Your path to purchase should be clear and simple. The better your user experience (UX), the more sales you can expect to make. Clarity and simplicity are hallmarks of conversion rate optimization.

Ways to take action today:

  • Perform a site audit to find stuck points along the customer journey on your ecommerce website. Check The Good’s end-to-end conversion audit as an example.
  • Listen to your customers. Do they frequently need help navigating a specific portion of your website? Take that as an indication you should simplify that part of the sales path.
  • Test your calls to action to make sure they’re understood and effective. A/B testing is relatively easy to perform and can deliver valuable insight.


Visitors who get lost or confused on your ecommerce site are quite likely to leave and go elsewhere. Clear the path for them. Make sure they understand what you want them to do next.

10. Provide plenty of payment options and stop turning customers away.

Why it matters: Have you ever wanted to purchase something, but discovered you don’t have the proper means of payment with you? That’s a frustration you never want your prospects to endure.

Ways to take action today:

  • Audit your payment methods. Get customer feedback. Do your prospects want to pay in a form you’re not offering?
  • Check analytics to see how many of your visits originate from overseas. Are they getting held up at checkout because you accept only U.S. dollars for payment?
  • Should you offer payment by bitcoin? That’s a strategic decision you may wish to consider. Check this guide on how to accept Bitcoin (BTC) and speculation about the future of bitcoin payments.
  • Consider financing options for larger price-point items. There are several third-party services that you can integrate with, similar to how you would offer PayPal, that may make buying your higher priced product easier.


You’ve put a tremendous amount of effort into attracting the right prospects and convincing them to buy from you. Dropping the ball at the goal line is an especially painful event. Check to be sure you’re providing plenty of ways for people to buy from you.

11. Leverage one-click shopping for repeat customers to make it even easier for them to keep coming back.

Why it matters: Shopping online is no longer a novelty or something you do because a certain item isn’t available locally. For many people, ordering via ecommerce is now the preferred choice. No driving, no fighting crowds, no standing in line. When you make shopping with you as easy as loading a basket and clicking a Buy Now button, shopper loyalty will grow.

Ways to take action today:

  • Buy something from your store as a new customer. Do it several times. Is the second order easier than the first? Do you feel valued?
  • Make the one-click shopping option evident and easy to access. Offer customers the choice of saving information to gain one-click ability.
  • Protect customer information securely and let them know you’re doing so.

That last point keeps many people from opting into one-click. They don’t want to store payment information online. That doesn’t mean you can’t maintain every other piece of ordering information for them to simplify the process.

NOTE: Amazon’s one-click purchase patent expired in 2017, but many ecommerce stores still haven’t employed the process that added billions of dollars to Amazon sales.

Amazon’s one-click purchase patent expired last year. Why aren’t more ecommerce sites taking advantage of the option? Click To Tweet

12. Make sure your error messages are helpful and friendly to prevent shoppers from perceiving your customer service as rude and uncaring.

Why it matters: Nobody likes to be talked down to – not even by a machine. Your error messages should maintain the same voice and respect for customers you expect from your sales and customer service staff. There’s never a reason to be rude.

Ways to take action today:

  • Audit your error messages. Edit any that don’t demonstrate the voice you want customers to hear from your staff.
  • Test error messages for UX clarity and impact.
  • Inspect your customer journey for friction points. If any error messages are part of that junction, look at them closely, adjust, and test.


Error messages often get overlooked in the conversion rate optimization process. Checking to be sure yours are customer-friendly is an easy way to make your check-out process more pleasing to shoppers.

13. Audit the entire checkout procedure to maximize conversions.

Why it matters: Spot checks of stuck points along the path to purchase are typically required when an obvious problem is discovered. Regular full-system inspections of the entire checkout process can reveal those revenue-draining areas before they show up on the radar.

Ways to take action today:


How many times have you tried to buy something online, only to be frustrated at checkout? Make a wrong selection and some checkout procedures require you to start over again. Don’t be that store. Do everything you can to keep shoppers moving smoothly along the process.

14. Make it easy for shoppers to make changes to the cart in order to prevent frustration and keep them engaged.

Why it matters: This part of checkout can be especially frustrating. You get to the end of the procedure and realize you forgot something. Now what? The optimized procedure will make changes to the cart easy to do.

Ways to take action today:

  • Audit the current situation on your ecommerce site. How easy is it for shoppers to make changes to the cart?
  • Observe every part of the selection and checkout sequence. What if someone is about to make payment and decides to alter the cart – is it still easy to do?
  • Make sure the procedure for making changes to the cart is evident to the shopper. Don’t forget to include the option to easily increase or decrease the quantity of each item in the cart.


Catering to shoppers and making the entire process a breeze may be sounding a bit repetitive by now, but it’s the essence of optimizing your path to purchase. Remove barriers. Make buying from you simple – even an enjoyable process.

Shopping cart abandonment is a multi-trillion dollar headache for online merchants, but it's also a huge opportunity - Business Insider - @businessinsider. Click To Tweet

15. Display seals of trust and use secure transaction methods so shoppers will feel safe when they provide their payment information.

Why it matters: Shoppers are considerably more comfortable with shopping online than they were when buying online first became available, but they’re still wary. News of data breaches keeps the threat fresh. Trust seals like Norton Secured (see the screenshot below) give consumers confidence that you’re being careful with their data.

Ways to take action today:

  • Audit your site for trust seals and secure transaction indicators. List the types of locations of those security notices.
  • Make sure you display at least one trust seal on every shopping page. Clicking on the seal should bring up a description of what the seal means and does.
  • Consider the depth of customer data protection on your ecommerce site. Shore up any weak spots. One data security breach can tarnish your brand severely.

Don’t just show seals and assure shoppers their data is safe with you – do the hard work of making sure what you say is true. Trust seals shouldn’t just look good, they should mean something. They should provide the security they claim to deliver.

cart abandonment

Clicking on the L.L. Bean security seal reveals information about the seal and the site (see the screenshot above). Seals give shoppers confidence in the site.

16. Don’t give shoppers reasons to get distracted and abandon their carts.

Why it matters: You want your visitors to stay focused on one thing only: completing the purchase. Don’t use mailing list pop-ups, social share request buttons, or anything else that will distract them from that mission. If you must use them, ensure they are used sparingly.

Ways to take action today:

  • Work through your selection and checkout procedure to look for distractors. List those you find.
  • Work through that list and ask, “Is this necessary.” If it’s not, get rid of it.
  • Make sure your marketing team understands and practices the concept of “one page, one job.” Don’t fill up space on a checkout page just because space is available. Only include elements that move the shopper towards the purchase.


This mistake – distracting the shopper – is one of the most frequently ignored principles of conversion rate optimization. Keep a close watch on page design. Empty space can be a good thing. It draws focus to necessary information. You don’t need to pursue mailing list opt-ins and social media shares on every page, but you do need to encourage the purchase.

17. Make all surprises good surprises – they’ll love you for it and reward you by adding even more to the shopping cart.

Why it matters: Everyone loves to find out the price just got reduced. Nobody likes to discover the price has increased. Doing things like waiting until payment to reveal taxes and shipping or not telling the buyer the product they want is out of stock until they’ve ordered the item are surefire ways of creating animosity. Never surprise your customers with bad news.

Ways to take action today:

  • Audit the procedure you’re using to display taxes, shipping, and any other add-on charges. Are they upfront, or do you save them for a surprise at payment time?
  • Devise no-shock ways of letting shoppers know about add-ons in advance. Better yet, remove add-ons altogether. Give them the all-in price right from the start and make sure they know there will be no surprises.
  • Audit your out of stock procedure. If you’re waiting until order time or even after the order to let shoppers know there will be a delay in shipment, design as way to change that system. Use low stock and out of stock situations to your advantage by encouraging the purchase of other items or providing a discount for those willing to wait for shipment.

Look for areas on your ecommerce site where the shopper can be ambushed by unwelcome news. Then get rid of those ambush spots. Take care of your visitors. Give them a joyous shopping experience. They’ll return over and over again to the places that treat them right.

Cart abandonment solutions you can count on

The Golden Rule is alive and well in ecommerce: treat others the way you want to be treated. Be honest with your visitors. Offer them real value.

The shopping cart optimization process is exacting, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Do make sure, though, that you don’t rely on internal feedback only. Observe real prospects as they navigate your checkout procedure. Make sure that a percentage of the testing subjects aren’t at all familiar with your site. Kick the rocks out of the path and smooth the way. The easier it is for visitors to buy from you, the more they’ll purchase and the sooner they’ll be back.

Pave the way for them to buy from you…and they will.

Need help? Contact The Good.

Resources:

About the author: Jon MacDonald is founder and President of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest online brands including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, Verizon, Intel and more. Jon regularly contributes content on conversion optimization to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc. He knows how to get visitors to take action.

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