Minimizing Checkout Abandonment Rates Effectively

checkout abandonment

Someone browses your site, finds a product they love, and adds it to their cart. But after clicking the “Check Out,” they face an unexpected—and unpleasant—surprise.

Maybe shipping costs are out of their budget, the checkout process is too complicated, the website freezes up, or they can’t pay with their preferred payment method. 

Just like that, they’re out of there.

It can be frustrating to find that lots of people jump ship right before making a purchase. But when you understand the most common causes of checkout abandonment, you can implement solutions that convert more customers. 

This article will explain what checkout abandonment rate is, how to calculate it, why people abandon checkout, and—most importantly—how to prevent it from happening.

What Is Checkout Abandonment Rate (and Why Should You Track It)?

First, what exactly is checkout abandonment rate? Checkout abandonment rate is an ecommerce metric that measures the percentage of customers who begin the checkout process but never finalize their purchase. Think of it as a measurement of how many potential sales slip through the cracks.

To calculate checkout abandonment, divide the number of completed transactions by the total number of initiated checkouts, then subtract the result from 1 and multiply by 100. Don’t worry—it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Just plug your numbers into the checkout abandonment rate formula below.

cart-abandonment-graphic (1)

(Note that this is the inverse of the checkout rate formula, which is simply the number of completed transactions divided by the number of checkouts initiated, then multiplied by 100.)

Let’s look at a quick example. If 100 customers start the checkout process, but only 70 actually make a purchase, what’s the checkout abandonment rate? 

1 – (70 / 100) x 100 = 30%

Although checkout abandonment is sometimes out of your control (people change their minds, after all), your business has a lot of influence over this metric. High checkout abandonment rates usually signal issues in your checkout process. A streamlined and transparent checkout process can significantly reduce abandonment rates, leading to increased revenue and more loyal customers.

Checkout Abandonment Rate vs. Cart Abandonment Rate

Checkout abandonment rate and cart abandonment rate measure slightly different things. Cart abandonment rate refers to people who add products to their cart but never progress to checkout. A high shopping cart abandonment rate could indicate problems in the earlier stages of the buying process, while a high checkout abandonment rate suggests issues in the later stages.

Causes of Checkout Abandonment

A high checkout abandonment rate is usually the result of a bad checkout experience. So let’s break things down: What can go wrong during the checkout process to drive potential buyers away? 

Unexpected Costs

Forty-seven percent of people who abandon checkout say it’s because the extra costs (like shipping and taxes) are too high. While customers love unexpected savings (like a complimentary coupon code), they’re not fans of unexpected costs. 

A Complicated Checkout Process

Convolution kills conversion

Many people get frustrated with long forms or too many steps. The more difficult the checkout process, the greater the chances an online shopper will decide it’s not worth their time. In fact, 17% of online shoppers in the U.S. have abandoned an order due to a lengthy or complicated checkout process. 

Having To Create an Account

Online shoppers often get frustrated when they have to create an account in order to complete their purchase. From your business’s point of view, requiring shoppers to register makes sense—it gives you an easy way to keep in touch with them. But for consumers, forced account creation is a hassle. In fact, it’s the second most popular reason that people abandon checkout, with 25% of consumers leaving due to forced account creation.

Security Concerns

With so many cyber threats lurking on the internet, today’s consumers exercise caution when providing personal information and payment details. If your site doesn't scream security, they might hesitate. Nineteen percent of consumers have abandoned a purchase because they don’t trust the site with their credit card information.

Limited Payment Options

Variety is the spice of life—and checkout. If a potential buyer doesn’t see their preferred payment option, they might decide to take their business to a competitor. 

Technical Issues

Sometimes, problems go even deeper than the checkout process. Websites that take forever to load, don’t work well on mobile, or have other glitches are a major turn-off. You can’t expect someone to complete a purchase if your site has technical issues.

How Checkout Abandonment Rates Impact Businesses

Checkout abandonment rates aren't just numbers on a screen. They directly impact the success and profitability of your ecommerce business. If too many buyers leave at the last minute, you’ll end up losing money in more ways than one.

  • Lost revenue. Every abandoned checkout represents a potential lost sale. When a customer walks away, revenue takes a direct hit. 

  • Higher customer acquisition costs (CAC). Marketing takes time and money, and your efforts pay off when customers visit your site. But if those visitors don’t convert, your marketing ROI plunges and customer acquisition costs go up.

  • Competitive disadvantage. In the fierce world of ecommerce, offering a great user experience is a competitive advantage. If your checkout process is frustrating, customers can easily turn to your competitors.

On the bright side, you can use even a not-so-great checkout abandonment rate as a springboard for improvement. Dive into the data, analyzing the patterns you see. After discovering the cracks in your process, implement the strategies below to reduce checkout abandonment rates.

Strategies To Reduce Checkout Abandonment Rates

So, how can ecommerce businesses reduce checkout abandonment rates? These strategies will help you build a more seamless checkout process, eliminating the issues that stand in the way of sales. 

Be Transparent About Product Pricing and Extra Fees

Be transparent about pricing so customers don’t get a nasty surprise. Clearly display all costs—product prices, shipping fees, and taxes—as early as possible. 

To go the extra mile, take steps to reduce costs for your customers. For example, you might offer free shipping on orders worth a certain amount. You could also include shipping prices in the product price so the shopper doesn’t see an extra fee. Offering free returns is another great way to help customers feel more confident in finalizing a purchase.

Streamline the Checkout Process

The simpler you can make the checkout process, the better. You can give customers a better experience by cutting down unnecessary steps and reducing form fields.

Don’t just optimize checkout for desktop; think about the mobile experience too. Mobile shopping is on the rise, and a frustrating mobile experience can contribute to high checkout abandonment rates.

Don’t Require Users To Make an Account

Why do shoppers dislike having to create an account? One study found that 32% of respondents don’t want marketing emails, 24% are nervous about providing personal information, and 22% think it takes too long.

These are valid concerns, and you shouldn’t ignore them. Fortunately, the solution is simple: Offer a guest checkout option for those who don’t want to make an account. You can give gentle nudges to convince users to register (“Create an account to save time on your next checkout!”), but leave it up to them. 

Build Confidence With Visible Security Measures

Since security is a major concern for many people shopping online, show that they can trust your site. Display trust badges, SSL certificates, and secure payment icons prominently. 

Offer Reassurance Through a Shopping Guarantee

For an added layer of confidence, leverage a shopping guarantee like the Norton Shopping Guarantee. With a $1,000 purchase guarantee, $10,000 identity theft protection, and a $100 lowest price guarantee, Norton Shopping Guarantee increases conversion rates by an average of 7% (and often more). 

Offer Multiple Payment Options

Whether it's credit cards, digital wallets, Apple Pay, or alternative payment solutions, diversify payment methods to capture a wider audience.

Use Exit-Intent Popups 

Implement exit-intent popups that activate when it seems like a customer plans to abandon checkout. With targeted messages or offers, these popups sometimes convince customers to stay on your site and finish their transaction. 

Conduct A/B Tests

You can guess what parts of the checkout process aren’t working well for customers, but the most effective way to find flaws in your site is to test. Using A/B tests, you’ll get an idea of which form designs, button placements, and messaging resonate best with your audience. Just make sure to avoid these common A/B testing mistakes.

Ask for Customer Feedback

In addition to A/B testing, asking for customer feedback can help you understand why customers abandon checkout. Send surveys asking for feedback about their experience, then implement the most-requested changes.

Optimize the Checkout Experience To Increase Conversions

Checkout abandonment might be frustrating, but your business has the power to reduce it. By testing and optimizing your site, designing with the user in mind, and being transparent, you’ll start to see more users completing purchases.

As a first step to fewer checkout abandonments, we recommend adding a shopping guarantee to your site. Norton Shopping Guarantee has been proven to increase conversion rates by instilling a sense of trust and confidence in users. 

Ready to see how it works?

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