eCommerce Insiders

Shopping Cart Abandonment: Is It Really That Bad?

(This is part one of a series of posts discussing shopping cart abandonment).

On average 71% of your customers will abandon a shopping cart without completing the purchase.

This is a huge number by any standards. It means that not even a third of your customers will end up buying from you. And ultimately, you will loose the remaining sales.

However, in spite of those numbers, is shopping cart abandonment actually a bad thing? Is this something you should fear or an opportunity to look forward to?

My goal for this and the remaining posts of the series is to evaluate those questions and offer you actionable solutions you will be able to implement in your business.

But, to begin at the beginning…

What is a cart abandonment

A cart abandonment occurs when a customer adds a product or products to the shopping basket, yet leaves without completing the purchase.

According to Forrester Research report published in 2010, there are 5 key reasons customer give for their cart abandonment:

  • Shipping and handling cost being too high
  • Not ready to make the purchase
  • Comparing prices
  • price was too high
  • They wanted to save the product for later consideration

If you look closely, those reasons could be summed in to two points:

  • Price (shipping cost, price and price comparison) and,
  • Not being ready to buy (the remaining two)

Both play a significant role in the shopping cart abandonment. However, not always in a negative way.

Is Shopping Cart Abandonment Bad?

Conventional wisdom says that cart abandonment is a bad thing for a business. To many eCommerce owners a customer abandoning a purchase is a clear sign of:

  • rejection of the business’ unique selling proposition
  • lack of trust in the brand
  • poor performance of the website, and much more

In reality though, to many customers abandoning a shopping cart is a part of their natural buying cycle. A part of the process of making a decision whether to buy or not.

Customers often review their options, weight pros and cons of a potential purchase and consider millions of other things before making the final decision. It is part of our nature. Not to mention that also a typical customer behaviour when buying online.

Customers research prices, costs, best places to buy from, best options, product variations and an assortment of other things. Only once they are 100% sure that this is the purchase they want to make (whether this knowledge is based on rational or irrational instances is another thing though), they will buy.

Naturally, sometimes the whole process is quick. Oftentimes though, it may take a number of returning visits to the store before the purchase is made.

In fact, according to Conversion Academy 2011 report (pdf), a staggering 75% of abandoners will actually return to the store, to purchase or abandon again.

3 Types of Customers that Abandon

This brings us to another aspect of a shopping cart abandonment, the types of people who abandon.

Conversion Academy identifies 3 types of abandoners:

  • One-time Abandoner
  • Serial Abandoner
  • Recent Abandoner

One Time Abandoner is usually someone who hasn’t made any abandons or purchases at your store before.

In contrast, a serial abandoner is someone who has abandoned a shopping cart at your store more than once.

Lastly, a recent abandoner is an existing customer who abandoned at a return purchase.

According to Conversion Academy, the number of One Time and Serial Abandoners is quite similar, 42 and 43 percent respectively. Recent Abandoners constitute the remaining 15% of your customers.

However, this division looks quite different if you take into consideration the potential for shopping cart recovery per each type.

One Time Abandoners recover at a very low 18% rate, however,
Serial and Recent Abandoners can recover at a massive 48 and 57 percent respectively.

With both statistics in mind, it becomes evident that your best customers are a group that constitutes a large portion of your customers and also offers a very high rate of recover:

Serial Abandoners – the very people that actually abandoned a shopping cart at your store more than once.

These people offer the greatest potential to actually buy from you, in spite of the fact that they Abandon the purchase, often more than once.


What should you take out of this?

In order to increase conversion rates, as an eCommerce owner you must change the way you think of a cart abandonment. Instead of struggling to reduce the abandonment rate they should focus on ways to encourage buyers to become serial Abandoners as well as implement remarketing tactics to recover abandoned transactions.

Pawel Grabowski

Pawel Grabowski is a copywriter and content marketer and the founder of, the content marketing agency helping SaaS companies grow the user base and generate quality leads with targeted content strategies.

Find out more about Pawel at and connect with him on Linkedin.


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