New Research on How to Reduce Your Cart Abandonment Rate

The eCommerce industry gets a lot of attention in academic journals. Researchers are studying it from every angle. One area that has received less focus than you might expect is how to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate.

But there’s some good information out there if you know how to find it. And we found it for you so you can increase sales without digging through a pile of musty old journals.

In this article, we’ll cover three research-based improvements you can make to improve your cart abandonment rate.

1. Improve Your User Interface

Your cart abandonment rate may be high because you’re making it too hard for shoppers to give you their money. According to web UX research institute Baymard, user interface problems are three of the top ten reasons for cart abandonment.

These are the UX-related reasons given by shoppers for abandoning their cart:

  • The site wanted me to create an account
  • The checkout process was too long or complicated
  • The website had errors or crashed

User interface changes (e.g., removing the requirement for shoppers to create an account to purchase, simplifying the checkout process, or fixing website errors) may require a more significant investment of time and money. But, depending on how severely UX-related issues are affecting your cart abandonment rate, it may be worth it.

2. Provide Triggered Incentives

According to Bamyard’s study, sixty-eight percent of shoppers abandoned a cart due to shipping costs or delivery time.

To persuade these shoppers to complete their purchase, add a pop-up that offers free shipping or expedited delivery. The pop-up should trigger if the shopper’s website behavior indicates that they’re likely to abandon their cart (e.g., if they spend a certain amount of time on the checkout page or demonstrate exit-intent before finalizing their purchase).

This way, you can reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate without offering a discount to all shoppers.

“The determinants of consumers’ online shopping cart abandonment,”  a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science,  made findings that indicate that a similar approach could be effective at reducing your cart abandonment rate among digital window shoppers as well.

If so, it could lead to a significant reduction in your cart abandonment rate because Bamyard found that “I was just browsing” was the most common reason given for cart abandonment.

The results of the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science study found that people who use online shopping carts for entertainment or research purposes (which shoppers would likely consider “just browsing” when responding to a survey like the one in the Bamyard study) are more likely to be waiting for a price reduction.

Ideally, the pop-up offer would be different based on the shopper’s website behavior. For example, offer a discount if they’ve put a lot of items in their cart without looking at reviews, which may be a sign that they’re searching for entertainment purposes.

If that’s not practical, you can test a free shipping offer against an offer for expedited delivery or let the shopper choose. And, if you’d like to do a little research of your own, consider asking them to complete a cart abandonment survey to take advantage of the offer.

The results of this survey will help you understand the reasons your shoppers are abandoning their carts so you can determine what areas you need to work on to improve your cart abandonment rate.

3. Change Your Shoppers’ Mindsets

There’s a growing body of research in a field called construal level theory that highlights the role consumer mindset plays in purchasing decisions.

The authors of “Online shopping cart abandonment: a consumer mindset perspective” (the Journal of Consumer Marketing study mentioned above) conducted three studies that suggest shoppers in an abstract mindset (focused on high-level attributes of the product vs. peripheral features) are less likely to abandon their carts.

Another study, “The Role of Abstract and Concrete Mindsets on the Purchase of Products from Adjacent Categories,” found that shoppers in an abstract mindset are more likely to purchase more products. For example, someone in a concrete mindset would buy a swimsuit, but if they had been in an abstract mindset, they would have been more likely to buy a swimsuit, a pair of sunglasses, and flip-flops.

Research also indicates that shoppers in an abstract mindset are happier after impulse buying, while shoppers in a concrete mindset experience feelings of regret.

Benefits of Promoting an Abstract Mindset

Based on these findings, promoting an abstract mindset should:

  • reduce cart abandonment rates
  • reduce product return rates
  • increase average order value

How to Promote an Abstract Mindset

These studies and others suggest using copy and imagery to prime shoppers to adopt an abstract mindset.

While it isn’t always beneficial for shoppers to be in an abstract mindset, the results of the latest experiments in construal level theory (that’s the academic name for the topic all of these abstract vs. concrete thinking studies fall under) have shown that it reduces the likelihood of cart abandonment.

Get shoppers in an abstract frame of mind with copy and imagery that focus on:

  • Novelty. What’s new or unfamiliar about your product?
  • Value. Why is your product valuable?
  • Future events. What future outcome should buyers expect?

Get Your Cart Abandonment Rate Under Control

The increased attention academics are paying to eCommerce is beneficial to the industry. But, while these studies offer helpful clues to help reduce your cart abandonment rate, there are different variables at play in each industry and every store.

You’ll have to test these findings against your current campaigns to see what works best for you. (While you’re figuring it out, be sure to take a look at the latest research on effective abandoned cart recovery.)

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