An ultimate guide to optimizing your shopping cart & checkouts to improve conversion rate

An ultimate guide to optimizing your shopping cart & checkouts to improve conversion rate

Do you know, almost 80% of online shoppers abandon their orders?

Shopping cart abandonment is the plague of online businesses. With 70 out of 100 customers quitting without purchasing, ignoring this issue is a potential threat to your eCommerce revenue and sales.

However, as there is no one specific reason for cart abandonment, handling this issue can be a great deal of pain for all eCommerce business owners.

Thus, this blog covers in detail all about shopping carts, checkout, and how you can optimize their key factors to improve conversion rates.


  • Statistics retrieved from Baymard, report an overall 81.08% cart abandonment rate.
  • The average abandonment rate varies with devices – Desktop: 69.75%, mobile: 85.65%, and tablets: 80.74%.
  • You know how much the total eCommerce industry loses revenue every year because of this – It’s $18 Billion.

There are a number of reasons why shoppers abandon their carts. However, below are the details of a few major contributors to cart abandonment.

  • Shopping cart abandonment rate due to high extra costs at checkout – 49%.
  • Online shopping cart abandonment when a site makes account creation mandatory – 24%.
  • Shopping cart abandonment due to long and complicated checkout – 18%.
  • Online shopping cart abandonment rate due to site trust issues – 17%.
  • Abandonment of shopping cart due to insufficient payment methods – 7%.
  • The ratio of shopping cart abandonment when the customers aren’t satisfied with the return policy – 1 in 10.

What is the difference between a shopping cart and checkout?

Though shopping cart and checkout seem quite similar there is ample difference between them.

The shopping cart is the stage where shoppers add products to the cart while checkout is the process of making payment and confirming the order. These two stages are where cart abandonment happens and customers reveal a number of reasons for it.

But, in both cart abandonment and checkout abandonment, the buyer leaves the website without finishing the purchase. And again, the difference lies at the stage where the user exits the site.

20 Elements of a typical shopping cart

  1. Product title
  2. Price
  3. Product images
  4. Quantity of product
  5. Edit option
  6. Subtotal & total
  7. Call-to-action buttons
  8. Wishlist or Save for later button
  9. Delivery and return details
  10. Contact information
  11. Customer support details
  12. Payment methods
  13. Continue shopping button
  14. Space for promo code
  15. Trust seals & badges
  16. Suggestions & recommendations
  17. Offers or added discounts
  18. Reviews & rating
  19. USPs of your business
  20. Email signup

Cart Abandonment vs Checkout Abandonment

What is Cart Abandonment?

When the cart is abandoned after adding the items to the cart and before moving onto the next stage i.e checkout and payment, is called cart abandonment.

The percentage of cart abandonment can be calculated by dividing the number of completed purchases by the number of open carts on the site.

Since this stage is before the cashing out process, the cart abandonment numbers are mostly higher than checkout abandonment.

What is Checkout Abandonment?

If the cart is abandoned at the payment stage after initiating the transaction process then it is considered as checkout abandonment.

The rate of checkout abandonment is calculated by dividing the number of completed transactions by the initiated number of transactions.

In both cart abandonment and checkout abandonment, the buyer leaves the website without finishing the purchase, lowering the conversion rate. Though the results are the same, the reasons for which a cart is abandoned in the middle of the process and why customers don’t complete the checkout widely vary.

What are the reasons for shopping cart abandonment?

  1. Hidden charges
  2. Mandatory account creation
  3. Uncertain return and refund policies
  4. Unstable site performance
  5. Lack of information
  6. Too many recommendations
  7. No promised discount or invalid promo code

1.Hidden charges:

The hidden charge is the primary reason for a shopper to abandon the cart. A customer decides to proceed with check out only after considering that the cost of the product is worth the value. But unexpected charges like additional taxes, shipping costs, and packing charges can surprise the user which will result in an incomplete checkout process – affecting your conversion rate.

2. Mandatory account creation:

Insisting that shoppers create mandatory accounts just before checking out is an unnecessary obstacle. Creating an account could be a long process that includes providing personal information. Pushing a customer to create an account will leave a negative impact on shoppers which will lead to the abandonment of the cart.

3. Uncertain return/refund policies:

Return or refund policies of eCommerce sites are to be made visible to the customers at the checkout. Shoppers want to know if they are purchasing from a trustworthy site. Users expect assurance on refund or replacement if there are any defects or damage. Having a fair Return or Refund policy is pivotal to gaining the trust of the customer and will help in conversion rate optimization.

4. Unstable site or performance:

The user interface and performance of your eCommerce site or app can be subconscious indicators for your business. Shoppers do not trust unstable or buggy eCommerce sites to provide their personal information or to make an online payment. Bugs and issues also make the shoppers frustrated and lose confidence in your business.

5. No promised discount or invalid promo code

Shoppers love discounts, offers, and promotions. With the expanding eCommerce market, the competition has also grown drastically. Promo codes and discounts are game-changers that give you a competitive edge to survive this cutthroat competition. The absence of discounts or promo codes may make customers search for better deals resulting in the user abandoning the cart.

6. Lack of information

The more the absence of information, the more time buyer spends to figure things out. This can be frustrating and cause the user to leave the site without completing the transactions. Insufficient information can also increase the time span of the customer journey – from finding the items to buying the products resulting in checkout abandonment.

7. Too many recommendations

The imbalance in navigating the fine line between funneling users to buy more and frustrating them with product bombardment increases the rate of cart abandonment. It can also cause the buyer to rethink their product choices resulting in an incomplete check-out process.

What are the reasons for checkout abandonment?

  1. Complicated checkout
  2. Security concerns
  3. Lack of payment options
  4. Declined payments
  5. Website crash or bugs
  6. Too many input fields

1. Complicated checkout:

After spending a lot of time choosing the right product and making a decision, the shopper would be eager to complete the checkout process as soon as possible. Around 87% of shoppers abandon their carts due to the complicated checkout processes. A longer and more tedious checkout process creates a bad impression on the site as the user will not only lose interest in checking out but also rethink visiting the site again.

This is where checkout optimization comes into play.

2. Security concerns:

The information requested for payments is really sensitive. Understandably shoppers are cautious about providing this information as they are concerned about banking security. Surveys state that about 74% of the users feel they are being targeted by fraudsters and about 59% of them feel uncomfortable sharing their financial details online to make a payment.

3. Lack of payment options:

Online shoppers usually expect multiple payment options for doing payments as it is more convenient for them. The lack of multiple payment options creates a scenario for the shopper to abandon the site.

4. Declined payments

Declined payments are a major distraction at the prime time of the purchase. They are a direct hindrance to completing the purchase process, eventually failing to provide the user experience expected in the market.

5. Website crashes or bugs

Website crashes or bugs make the user lose trust in the site and eventually doubt the security of the payment portal. This reduces the chance of users completing the purchase to less than 25 percent. It also affects customer loyalty and their revisiting chances in the future.

6. Too many input fields

The time span for the entire process – from browsing to buying – plays a vital role in purchase completion. Requiring multiple input fields hinders the speed of order completion eventually making the shoppers second guess about their purchase.

How to make more customers checkout using shopping cart optimization?

There are numerous checkout optimization techniques and shopping cart solutions available that can help you in conversion rate optimization.

  • Choose an effective cart page design
  • Include product summary
  • Employ friendly color code
  • Use eyecatching thumbnails
  • Have multiple payment options
  • Incorporate trust seals
  • Offer chat, phone, or email support
  • Have a “Continue Shopping” option
  • Give clear information about shipping & return
  • Avoid hidden costs
  • Suggest complementary products
  • Offer “Wishlist” or “Save for later” option
  • Implement Smart Information hierarchy

1. Choose an effective cart page design

Effective and efficient page design is the first step in conversion rate optimization.

All the most inspirational shopping cart pages of brands prefer a clear and fast shopping cart to minimize cart abandonment.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while designing your cart page.

  • The shopping cart page design should enable shoppers to check out swiftly. Include only the necessary elements to avoid clutter and distractions.
  • See to that the cart page design is mobile friendly and easy to promptly review the items before the final transaction.
  • All information must be direct, plain, and simple terms to avoid last-minute confusion.
  • Avoid long scrolling designs with too many fields and options.
  • The shopper must be able to access, use, and check out the cart page hassle-free.
  • Use light designs that are easy to load and fast for an instant checkout experience.

2. Include product summary

Including an incisive product summary on the cart page makes it easy for customers to check the product info one last time. Mentioning the prime features or the product highlights gives the shoppers the final nudge that is needed to overcome hesitation and place the order.

Don’t miss to include the product image, its name, prime product specifications, quantity of order, dimensions of the product, and its color in the shopping cart conversion rate optimization process.

Including all this information about the product not only helps in quick review before purchase and reduces cart abandonment due to improper information but also helps in reducing product returns due to wrong order placements.

3. Employ friendly color code

Many studies in psychology have revealed that the use of colors directly affects the buying decision of shoppers. Thus, remember to craft your cart page with a clear design and reassuring colors.

Though there is no specific color code to make customers buy, all industries have one or two colors that they prefer. Shoppers love the UX when it is completely coordinated in terms of colors and design.

From a simple white and black combo to striking use of colors, no matter what you pick make sure all the information is clearly displayed, the page isn’t clumsy or crowded and the call-to-action buttons stick out distinctively easy to click.

To get an upper hand it is always recommended not to use more than 2-3 colors, one color dedicated to CTA.

4. Use eyecatching thumbnails

Instead of providing a small annoying thumbnail on the cart page which doesn’t even serve the purpose of product identification try offering an eye-catching high-resolution image.

Thumbnail images of the cart let customers have a quick overview of the items in it before purchase. It is a strong visual clue for the cart contents. It is also a rich and resonant way to connect the cart and product page rather than just displaying the product name or summary text.

Giving a bright and clear image helps customers double-check the color or look of the product after adding it to the bag.

A good-sized image makes it easy for the shoppers who are shopping from their mobile devices as well.

5. Have multiple payment options

With cutthroat competition in the eCommerce industry adapting multiple payment methods is a must. When a customer doesn’t find the option for payment suitable then he/she is sure to abandon the cart and even your website.

Do you know? More than 50% of shoppers drop purchases on a specific website if their favorite payment option isn’t available. Ergo, having multiple payment options not only also encourages customers to visit again but also boosts your sales.

If the store is into international eCommerce then make sure you offer all the preferred payment methods in that country. Moreover for a personalized experience in terms of currency and favorite payment option, redirect shoppers based on their IP location.

6. Incorporate trust seals

On average 75% of brands lose their sales due to payment security concerns, says Barilliance’s report.

In another survey by Econsultancy, a whopping 48% of participants expressed that trust badges are the elements that actually matter when it comes to a website’s security and trustworthiness even though many others contribute to the same.

In fact, in one more survey, 61% of participants revealed they decided not to buy a product just because it did not have a trust seal.

Ergo, in this fast-growing environment, earning the trust of the customers is crucial for your company to boost business. So, incorporate trust seals and badges like SSL (secure sockets layer), PayPal Verified, McAfee Secure, TRUSTe Certified Privacy, and more to gain customer trust and assure safety. After all adding trust seals is a crucial part of conversion rate optimization.

Have in mind, customers need to trust your website first to reveal their personal / card details and buy from you.

7. Offer chat, phone, or email support

Support option on the cart page is a great way to reduce cart abandonment, boost conversions, and leverage brand identity. Offering live support helps in breaking the purchase barriers that are stopping your customers from buying from you. It is one of the smartest ways to conquer your customers.

Apart from solving your customers’ queries and answering their last-minute questions, live support gives you a chance to directly interact with your shoppers, understand their requirements, build long-lasting relationships and conquer them to become loyal customers.

Among the three options, live chat is a smart choice and millennials prefer it too. Live chat is a time-saver, cost-effective, lets you support multiple customers at a time, and leaves a humanized touch as well.

8. Have a “Continue Shopping” option

The “Continue Shopping” option is one way to stop your shoppers from abandoning their carts.

When customers are not too sure, or if they are in the mood to explore or shop more, the “Continue Shopping” button redirects them back into the website without leaving it.

However to make the most from this, as a business owner you should know where to redirect your customers – To the product page or homepage or the category page. It is this decision of yours that will decide how much more the average cart value shall increase. So, make sure you land your shoppers on the more appropriate pages for them.

Besides most shoppers use the cart page as “wishlists” and store future purchases in it.

9. Give clear information about shipping & return

What if the product is not as good as it looks? What if it doesn’t fit after buying it? Will they charge extra for shipping? and more are the questions that stop customers from purchasing and a clear policy document can clear them all.

A survey revealed that 49% of shoppers actively check the Return Policy before purchasing anything. In addition, when shoppers are informed about their rights they are more likely to purchase.

Brief shipping, return, and refund policies help manage customer expectations and avoid future confusion on both ends. It creates a sense of security and customers are more likely to trust you if your policies are displayed evidently.

Moreover having transparent shipping, refund, and return and policy prominently displayed on your website demonstrates how professional and responsible your business is.

10.Avoid hidden costs

Do you know what is the number one reason for shoppers in the US to abandon their eCommerce shopping cart? Hidden costs.

Though “FREE SHIPPING” is a great hook, the last-minute hidden costs on shipping frustrate the shoppers to a greater extent. Buyers just hate that.

Knowing that it’s high time eCommerce websites come transparent with their charges as it is the key to trust-building and conversion.

If you want to emphasize free shipping then instead of hiding your shipping charges till the last minute, you can offer “condition-based free shipping”.

And, on your cart page, as you mention the subtotal and total price, mention the other additional costs as well. Keep your customers aware of what they are paying for.

11. Suggest complementary products

If in case your website doesn’t have the specific product the customer is looking for, through suggestions and recommendations you get a chance to interest them in a similar or complementary product they might need. This way customers don’t leave empty-handed or disappointed with your site

Recommendations also help in cross-selling products relevant to customers’ interests and encourage repeat purchases. However see to that your recommendations are in connection with or based on the products in the cart, or what the customer has browsed/purchased already.

In addition, displaying complementary products besides the shopping cart can also increase the average order value (AOV) of the purchase.

12. Offer “Wishlist” or “Save for later” option

Most of the times customers may be fully interested in buying a product but not at that particular time. In those cases having a “Save for later” or “Wishlist” option on the cart page help them keep track of the product.

It stops the shoppers from discarding the products that they didn’t purchase right away. These buttons also help you to retain the customers in the buying cycle, send them reminders, retarget in the future and build a customer experience series.

The wishlist or Save for later option informs you what products the customers are interested in and helps you distinguish between cart abandonment and “saved for later” scenarios.

13. Implement Smart Information Hierarchy

Displaying the product information according to its importance and purpose is called Smart Information Hierarchy. The main aim of a smart information hierarchy is to smoothly drive customers towards checkout’s Call-to-action without any confusion.

In your cart page focus on specific structuring including lines, columns and highlight the crucial information such as the specs, subtotal, total, promo code, product quantity, shipping address, and a CTA to influence user perception.

This presents the final page as simple and clear, enhancing the user experience. It is also wise to use different colors to highlight information and a separate color for CTA to grab shoppers’ attention.

Wrapping up!

Of the total $50 – 60 billion eCommerce market, 60% comprises products and the rest comes from services. No matter which industry you are in, minimizing shopping cart abandonment through shopping cart solutions and checkout optimization can accelerate your revenue by 30%. Thus, don’t forget to optimize your shopping cart with the proven hacks mentioned above.

After optimizing your website, the next step for you is to craft your shopping cart & checkout abandonment strategy. And if you need persomalised assistance in setting up or refining your shopping cart then just get in touch with our expert team.

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