How to Correctly Interpret Cart Abandonment Rates

There is always a discussion going on about cart abandonment rates, setting this up as a big problem from a user behavior point of view. This might however not be the case as there are other logical explanations for why users abandon shopping carts on online stores other than a poorly designed cart page.

Shopping Carts Are Where You Get Information

In a typical online store, the only place to get vital information about your order is in the shopping cart. The most frequently wanted piece of information by shoppers is how much the shipping is going to cost. Where do shoppers typically find this cost? That’s right, in the shopping cart.

Based on this behavior alone you can see why high abandonment rates are logical. It may just be that the user, as part of a comparative process or otherwise, is using the shopping cart (the only way to get shipping costs) to find out what the total order cost would be.

Shopping Carts Act Like a Wishlist

Another common way for shoppers to use online shopping carts is like a wishlist, storing items that they would potentially like to purchase for convenient access. Don’t make the mistake of comparing this behavior to an in-store behavior (see below).

Quite rightly, nobody would ever do this in a physical store. People do however online simply because it is both technically possible and convenient. Instead of thinking about this as something negative, turn it into a potential and help people use your cart the way they want to.

Shoppers Are Being Shocked

Another reason for high cart abandonment rates, which builds on the shipping cost argument, is that shoppers are chocked with new information. Whether this is an added cost or purely informational doesn’t matter. If you present something new that the customer did not previously know, the option for an exit and further consideration is there.

Present new information on the cart page if you wish, but don’t be surprised to see people turning away.

Online Carts Are Not Like In-Store Carts

The comparison between carts in a physical store and online is lacking in several dimensions with the above factors being just two good reasons. Simply put, one cannot compare the experience of going to a store and putting items in a cart with that of doing the same online. The contexts and meanings of the actions in the two scenarios are largely different. Don’t fall into the trap.