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Cart abandonment: What to do when customers 'ghost' you

Posted November 19, 2019 - Updated June 3, 2021
cart abandonment concept with shopping cart showing big X  and man walking away with credit card

In a world filled with tweets, texts, viral cat videos and other online distractions, it’s little surprise that people shopping online often become distracted before hitting “buy”. Shoppers “ghosting” a brand by leaving their cart behind can be a scary experience.

Some customers have true intentions to purchase items and simply forget. Others fill online carts to create a wish list, to compare prices or to see how expensive the total order will be, without following through. Then, there are those who abandon their online shopping carts because of a slow page download, or if they have to create an account or re-enter their payment information.

Regardless of the reason, an overview of available research by Baymard Institute shows about seven out of 10 shoppers abandon their online cart before making a purchase. Cart abandonment also manifests differently for mobile shoppers as they can become impatient over issues such as long checkout processes while on the go. To be a hit with mobile shoppers, customer experience needs to be painless, with 22% of mobile shoppers reporting that a lengthy checkout process was their greatest frustration.

And when it comes to industries, travel and hospitality has one of the highest abandonment rates. Research from Statista indicates that over 87% of shoppers abandon their airline ecommerce experience — the highest industry rate within their study. Ghosting is a costly problem in the travel and hospitality industry, but the reality is, shopping cart abandonment is a big concern for all verticals.

Fortunately, e-commerce companies have an opportunity to increase conversions by optimizing the checkout experience. Thanks to new technologies driving improved user experience (UX) and user interface design (UI), it’s becoming easier to nudge shoppers back to the order page. In fact, according to Oberlo, 2020 saw the “highest ecommerce conversion rate in seven years” with a 9.6% increase from 2020 to 2021.

A major part of the solution is having the right infrastructure, technologies and team in place to focus buyers and improve their customer experience (CX) by providing seamless e-commerce transactions. Here’s a closer look at five ways companies can successfully close an online sale.

1. Simplify the checkout process

About a quarter of shoppers abandon online carts because of complicated navigation. It stands to reason that the best way to prevent distraction and keep consumers engaged is to simplify the overall buying process as much as possible. This is why e-commerce companies need to provide a clear step-by-step ordering process. From item selection, to checkout, to payment, to order placement, ensure that all online forms are simple and straightforward and design pages free of clutter that could potentially distract buyers before they cross the proverbial finish line.

2. Offer speedy customer service

When consumers have a question while shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, all they need to do is flag down a sales representative and ask. Getting a quick response to an online inquiry should be as seamless. E-commerce companies should leverage technology that can help provide real-time answers to consumer questions, either through chatbots, live chats or well-staffed contact centers. Companies should also consider offering text and email channel options as well.

Bottom line: The sooner that customer questions are answered, the more likely they are to buy a product or service.

3. Be transparent about costs

One of the main reasons consumers abandon online carts is due to high shipping and handling costs. Either they’re a surprise, considered too high, or both. Shopping cart abandonment statistics show that more than half of shoppers would leave their cart during checkout if they are surprised by the total amount. While shipping and handling costs are sometimes necessary, companies need to be upfront about the fees and be prepared to quickly answer consumer questions about these added charges. The more transparent, the better — and the more likely that a sale will go through.

4. Provide security for consumer comfort

Given the dramatic rise in cyber fraud in recent years, e-commerce companies must ensure their payment systems are secure. Companies should post information on their website, especially on their checkout pages, about the security systems they have in place to protect consumer information. They should also provide detailed information about their commitment to consumer protection and privacy, and the steps they’re taking as a company to stay on top of the issue. Consumers are more likely to shop with a brand they know is being proactive about safeguarding their data.

5. Offer a holistic CX

A confirmation text or email, sent after a consumer has submitted an order, shouldn’t be the last communication they get from the company. Consumers expect companies to inform them not only when their order is placed, but also to share real-time updates when items ship or there are changes to a service or plan. A growing number of brands also follow up and ask for a review soon after the transaction has been completed. By staying engaged with the consumer, brands can deepen the customer experience and increase the chances they’ll go online again to place another order.

Overall, companies with an e-commerce component must ensure their technology, design, platforms and customer service teams are ready to help consumers complete their purchases quickly and with little effort. When customers have positive online purchasing experiences, they’re more likely to relegate ‘ghosting’ to the dating apps.

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