Study: Why e-Commerce Shoppers Abandon Shopping Carts

Coauthored along with Yuval Yatskan of Skava.

Understanding the unique reasons why your customers abandon is the first step in improving your site’s conversion rates.

Increasing conversion rates is a top priority for online retailers.  Common strategies include: utilizing UI updates, A/B testing, and immediate discounts for new site visitors—amongst others. However, starting with an understanding of why customers are abandoning their carts can serve as a powerful way to determine the best incentives and increase conversion rates.

In working with numerous retailers, we’ve found that most have only anecdotal evidence of why online carts are abandoned.  To solve this problem we developed a simple, easy to answer, one-click survey to poll shoppers at the point of abandonment.

From April to November of 2018, we surveyed 2,238 shoppers across multiple retailers to better understand why they were abandoning their carts. We presented the survey to the shoppers who were about to abandon while still on the retailer’s site, and found the following:

Source: Metrical’s Cart Abandonment Exit Survey

By far, the top two reasons for abandonment had to do with shoppers readiness to purchase and shipping. Let's take a look at each of these.

Readiness to Purchase: Every online store is going to have its fair share of “just browsing” shoppers. These shoppers might make up the majority of your abandonment statistics and can be the most difficult to convert. Utilizing time-sensitive offers that creates a fear of lost opportunity in the shopper can help convert these shoppers into buyers.

Shipping: Large retailers like Amazon have conditioned online shoppers to expect free shipping. That’s not to say large retailers have to jump to free shipping as their first option—even a reduction in shipping cost or expedited shipping can be enough to make a customer happy enough to purchase.

As Simon Sinek says, “Start with why”. Each site is unique and different because of a host of variables including industry, design, and clientele. Your site is unique, so the reasons customers abandon their purchases on your site might be different than results we’ve presented.  Don’t just assume discounts are what your site visitors need to convert. Reach out to the shoppers on your site and understand their reasons for why.

PDF iconYou can download this report here.


Don’t let your online customer experience fall by the wayside. Metrical helps online merchants and retailers figure out how to deliver targeted messaging that improves the buying experience, converts shoppers into buyers, and be better positioned to build a loyal customer base. Interested in knowing more? Drop us a line!