For many Shopify stores, it's an all-too-familiar question: why do online shoppers decide last-minute not to buy a product? Whether you're on Shopify or Shopify Plus, shopping cart abandonment is a serious issue.

But surprisingly the main reasons for visitors and even current customers abandoning their carts (ie not making it all the way through your checkout flow) are actually shared by many merchants. On the plus side, so are the ways to reduce cart abandonment!

Cart abandonment is not a mystery.

While not every reason a shopper abandons their cart is within your control, some things are in your hands. When your cart abandonment rate is high, there are active steps you can take toward minimizing it.

Maybe you've spotted lower checkout completion rates on mobile, or maybe it's a cross-device issue. Maybe it's a significant issue for paid traffic, organic, or both.

But first, let's explore cart abandonment from the ground up:

  • What it is
  • Why it matters
  • Why it's a crucial metric, not a mystery

What causes cart abandonment?

While there’s no quick answer, carts get abandoned for a variety of reasons — although a lower abandonment rate tends to reveal a more intuitive customer experience and a more trustworthy store.

Many shoppers may browse your store in hopes of finding a hidden discount, to compare prices, or to see how your product stacks up against similar products.

Some shoppers might even be building a wishlist for the future, with no intention of purchasing right now. For this type of shopper, there’s not much you can do to compel a purchase.

This means your focus should be on the shoppers who are willing to buy but haven’t, maybe due to a website element or step in the checkout process that sent them scurrying away.

As part of the same cart abandonment study, the Baymard Institute conducted a survey of over 4,500 US adults asking why they abandoned their purchase after passing the add-to-cart stage:

cart abandonment baymard institute

Many of the factors above can be countered by making tweaks to the checkout process. (We cover as many as possible in our free cart abandonment ebook.)

For example, let’s take the second most prevalent response — the site wanted me to create an account.

By offering a guest checkout option where an account is not necessary, this 28% group would be one step closer to a purchase, helping you avoid an abandoned cart.

How can you improve your checkout experience?

Industry lingo like “streamline the checkout process” is often thrown around, but what does this actually mean? What are the parts of your site that eliminate friction in the checkout process rather than causing it?

More specifically, we’re referring to the step after a user adds a product to his or her cart. Optimizing add-to-cart rate is, in itself, a separate stage in the purchase funnel that we have discussed before. In any case, here are a few things to consider for a better checkout experience...

Don't wait to reduce cart abandonment