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Why do customers abandon their carts?

Abandoned carts have been problematic since the beginning of e-commerce and online stores have been battling them all this time. Even though a lot depends on the customers themselves, there are methods to improve your customer journey.

What are abandoned carts?

Let’s start with what abandoned carts actually are. When customers add products or services  to their cart, but do not finalize the transaction and leave the store without converting, you end up with an abandoned cart. These seemingly mundane situations lead to big losses for many online stores (up to 70% of carts end up abandoned according to research by the Baymard Institute). 

This may have a negative effect on the store not only in terms of finances. The owners or managers of the store may invest in additional elements developing the store that will ultimately not improve the problem at hand. This may become truly demotivating, therefore proper actions, inherently connected with improving User Experience not only in relation to the cart itself, should be undertaken from the very beginning. At this point we’d like to recommend reading our first article from our series on conversions: Why don’t your customers buy in your online store?  

How to reduce the number of abandoned carts in an online store?

An indispensable element of the endavor of improving your site’s User Experience is analyzing actual data connected with e-commerce. Let us focus mainly on pinpointing the reasons (and solutions) coming not only from our experience, but also from the research published by the already mentioned Baymard Institute. It is a company operating worldwide, which researches e-commerce and audits online stores predominantly with relation to UX and UI

Too few payment methods

Customers are increasingly demanding when it comes to the forms in which they can pay for a given product. For this reason, every online store should offer as many payment methods as possible. As a result, more potential customers will be able to convert and won’t abandon their carts. 

Of course, we do realize that this generates extra costs, and this is why it is a good idea to gauge the popularity of each payment method and in case of very low interest, resign from using it

Too complicated return process

Customers, especially those using the internet to buy, are increasingly conscious and careful. If a given store policy, like returns, appears too complex or simply unfair, they may just resign from buying altogether.

You should streamline this process as much as possible. The foundation here is a clearly written policy and rules building customer trust. You should treat returns as another part of the business and not as a potential money save. Consequently, customers will appreciate this and convert more willingly.  

Too long shipping time

There are two key aspects to this issue. First - the information on shipping time is not stated clearly enough; second - there is no option to choose a specific courier company. Many stores don’t have such an option and the customer is practically forced to choose one specific company. As is the case with payment methods, it is recommended to provide a few different options and the store needs to be aware of and respond to any reports of too slow or otherwise unsatisfactory shipping experienced by the customers.

Technical issues negatively impacting the store’s functioning 

Let’s turn to more UX-related reasons for cart abandonment. What is also corroborated by Baymard Institute’s research, users don’t like experiencing technical issues with the site. An especially egregious example is improper functioning of the shopping cart. This is a critical issue which should be given priority and those in charge of the store should constantly monitor it.

However, these issues are often hidden so well that they become difficult to notice when you’re not a user. This is why implementing a live chat, where customers can ask questions and provide feedback on issues with shopping in real-time, is such a good idea.

Badly designed ordering process

When it comes to implementation, UX mainly stems from the right design. For e-commerce, apart from planning the visuals or implementing specific solutions, you should pay attention to the ordering process. The recommended approach is to bet on minimalism and simplicity. Each customer should be able to complete the process quickly.

An efficient ordering process comprises:

  • The cart - here your customers may see the products they had already added and their final price, change the amount of these products or remove them
  • The order form - the customer needs to provide you with the necessary data needed for them to receive their order, however it’s best practice to have as few fields here as possible 
  • Summary - a screen which sums up all the details of the order, allowing the customer to confirm that they successfully provided all the needed data 
  • Payment - the user needs to pay for their order and afterwards receive a PDF or email confirmation containing all the needed information pertaining to their order

Forcing customers to have an account

Having to create an account in an online store is only seemingly not a big deal. The users think otherwise, especially those who do not wish to share their sensitive personal data. This is why they should be able to place an order without having an account. This is the single most important way of speeding up the conversion process.

This may not be the ideal solution, because having an account comes with benefits, such as access to order history or the status of your current order. Working in e-commerce however, it is key to improve your conversions by meeting your customers’ needs, and forcing them to have an account on your site will no doubt interfere with that.


In many cases it is the price that makes your customer choose your competition. This is also true for surcharges, especially if they are not listed in a simple and precise way. They should appear already on the product description, so that the customer knows as much as they can. 

Surcharges include:

  • Packaging - the store cannot resign from these costs, but they should keep them as low as possible, also comparing themselves to their competition 
  • Shipping - as customers pay attention to these costs, they should be as low as possible 
  • Cheaper shipping options - currently, offering only shipping by couriers is quite a limitation. You should consider using parcel locker services as they are more green and flexible for your customers
  • Shipping price based on the order’s value - the higher the value of the order, the lower the shipping price should be, and from a certain value point we should offer free shipping


Our series of articles has been dealing with basic problems connected not only with the site’s UX or UI, but also with how you treat your customers, or how you support them in converting. This shows just how important it is to have a comprehensive approach to managing an online store and how many substantive, technical and financial aspects of running such a store require full commitment.

However, not every online store manager has the time and sufficient know-how to deal with all that themselves. This is why outsourcing such efforts to professionals is such a good idea. Flow Digital provides such services in the realm of UX and UI. We operate with clients from all over the world, devise our own processes and methodologies and, most importantly, we work with actual analytical data. We recommend you check out other articles on our site and what services we have on offer!

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