3 Ways to Combat Online Shopping Cart Abandonment During COVID-19

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Online shopping cart abandonment has long been a significant pain point for the e-commerce industry, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the problem. Recent research shows the average abandonment rate skyrocketed to nearly 95% at the onset of the pandemic, compared to 85% in 2019.

Having potential customers add products to their cart only to leave before making a purchase not only results in lost revenue for the business, but it also leads to logistical challenges around available inventory.

Fortunately, many of the reasons shoppers abandon their purchases at the point of sale can be avoided altogether with a few simple strategies that enhance the customer experience. By being transparent about costs, offering flexible payment and checkout options, and improving website usability, online retailers can tackle the cart abandonment problem and set themselves up for success in an increasingly competitive e-commerce environment.

Be Transparent About Costs

Customers don’t like surprises. To earn their trust and avoid frustration at the checkout, it’s crucial to be upfront about costs from the start and avoid tacking on additional fees at the point of sale. Being transparent about costs can significantly improve the odds of a customer going through with a purchase, as hidden fees represent the No. 1 reason shoppers abandon their carts at checkout, according to research from the Baymard Institute.

Part of being transparent about pricing means providing a clear view of shipping fees upfront, and when possible, offering free shipping. With many retailers now offering two-day and even same-day delivery at no added cost, keeping shipping costs at a minimum can make or break a customer’s decision to buy. Research by BigCommerce found that 84% of shoppers have made a purchase specifically because the shipping was free, while 77% have abandoned a sale at checkout due to “unsatisfactory shipping options.”

Prioritize Convenience With Flexible Payment & Checkout Options

When it comes to online shopping preferences, one size no longer fits all. As a result, it has become increasingly important for online retailers to offer a wide variety of payment and checkout options to limit friction and meet customers’ individual needs.

At minimum, payment options should include credit and debit card, one-click options like PayPal, and mobile payment offerings like Google Wallet and Apple Pay. Installment payments and buy-now-pay-later services are also gaining prominence among millennials and Gen Z and can improve conversion rates by as much as 22%, according to Afterpay.

As the final step in the payment process, online retailers should also make it easy for customers to complete the transaction. Research from SaleCycle found that 34% of customers will abandon their purchase at the point of sale if they are required to make an account. To avoid this issue and provide shoppers with the fast and seamless experience they want, consider offering a guest checkout option that only requires customers to provide essential information.

Improve Your Site’s Usability

Online retailers should think of their website as their digital storefront. The design, usability and functionality of the website all have a hand in the customer experience and, when done right, can tip the scales toward a purchase.

To start, online retailers should give customers a strong first impression by ensuring the website has a fast loading time and a simple, user-friendly design. Once shoppers are on the website, it’s important to give them incentives to not only stay, but complete a transaction.

Always use high-quality images, well-written descriptions and videos to accompany products, and when possible, attach reviews to each listed product to give social proof. Create an easy shopping experience with personalization throughout the user journey such as product recommendations which reduce site fatigue and enables the user to check out faster.

By following these steps and taking action to prioritize the customer experience above all else, online retailers can combat shopping cart abandonment once and for all and remain resilient in the fast-changing e-commerce age.

Irina Sulejmanovic is North American general manager at Fit Analytics.

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