Posted June 14, 2010 8:36 am by with 6 comments

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Whether it’s a function of the economy or the same ills that have plagued shopping carts since the dawning of e-commerce, there appears to be no letting up in abandonment rates for websites at the true point of sale, the checkout.

eConsultancy reports on several recent surveys and studies that show the trend continuing but few solutions to the trouble being found.

Thanks to a range of factors, including increased customer expectations, as well as behavioural factors such as comparison shopping, basket and checkout abandonment rates are rising.

A recent Forrester survey found that 88% of consumers have abandoned shopping carts, and named the top five reasons given by customers.

The top five reasons for cart abandonment were:

1. High shipping costs – 44%
2. Not ready to purchase – 41%
3. Price checking – 27%
4. Price too high – 25%
5. Wanted to save products for later – 24%

The high shipping costs comes as no surprise especially since most sites make the consumer go through the checkout process before they can find out just how much those costs will be. While I have no scientific backing for this assumption other than how I feel, I am usually waiting for bad news when it comes to shipping costs because they feel ‘hidden’ since you have to go through the process to learn just how much it is. By setting up this kind of system, it could be helping to set up a negative mindset in the consumers’ mind that may not exist if they were told beforehand just what shipping costs would be.

Another source of data on this important issue for ecommerce players was a survey by Webcredible. Leading the way on the list of reasons why consumers abandon checkouts online is the revelation of hidden charges at checkout. While there is not a definition of what exactly hidden charges are, shipping could be placed in that category as well. Here are the rest of the reasons most cited to cause shopping cart abandonment.

The bottom line is that as online shoppers become more and more savvy they will become less and less tolerant of ‘tricks’ used by online retailers. This can create trouble for even the best online retailers who don’t resort to many of these tactics. Why? Because people like to generalize, they start to project these ‘sneaky’ tactics with everyone. It’s online retailing’s version of guilt by association.

What do you perceive as the main culprits in shopping cart abandonment? Have you experienced a rise in abandonment rates? What are some solutions possible solutions to making this issue less of a barrier to online sales?

  • I found that using Paypal increases the amount of checkout because it is very easy to use and have the choice of using your credit card

  • I have seen some websites claiming free shipping. Did they survey these websites?

  • I abandon shopping carts on a regular basis because eTailers hide so much information that I have to follow the process through to check out in order to learn certain things about their services.

    Instead of trying to pump up the action on the back end, they can improve their ROI and conversion rates by separating the information from the checkout and making it easy for visitors to do either (check for information or make a purchase) without having to do both.

    • I agree, Michael. Transparency will win the day in all of this. I think that the less barriers an etailer puts between their customer and the purchase the better for everyone. Giving all of the data BEFORE going through the checkout process (I do the same thing you do by the way) would make it much easier for me to say YES and buy.

      With each new surprise that happens during the checkout process my likelihood to end up hitting the “Complete Order” button goes down exponentially.

      Thanks for checking in.

    • CrystalRock

      Hi Michael,
      I feel very curious about what things you want to learn about. Shipping cost should be one major interest.
      And, anything else?

  • CrystalRock

    Besides those top five reasons, would it be possible that some abandonment was created by speculative affiliates who attempted to cheat in an affiliate program against the e-tailer? And, I guessed these kinds of causes or intentions might be under-rated or never be revealed in most surveys.

    1. Perhaps those affiliates don’t have exact knowledge of what page in the checkout process the embedded the tracking scripts would be activated. But, I guess most people don’t know it, including me. : (
    2. This blind spot might be visualized by comparing cart abandonment between products that use affiliate programs and products that do not use any. Hope someone feedback further insights.