Imagine this: You’ve spent months getting your new eCommerce shop up and running. You set up WooCommerce, installed a bunch of plugins, found a perfect theme, dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s on tax compliance, logistics, and customer service. You roll out your beautiful new shop, and your marketing plan is working as expected, sending a flood of traffic to your store. Visitors are even adding items to their carts, too, but then, disaster: two-thirds of those shoppers never actually complete checkout. That can’t be right, can it?

You’ve just run into one of the most common and frustrating issues facing every online retailer: abandoned shopping carts. The numbers are stunning: close to 70 percent (70!) of shoppers who add items to an online shopping cart never actually complete the purchase. Depending on your business, that could represent thousands or even millions of dollars left on the table.

So what’s an enterprising eCommerce entrepreneur to do?

Why Shoppers Abandon Carts

The key to getting your potential customers to stop abandoning their carts is to understand why they do it in the first place. There is a wide range of reasons that cause people to stop a transaction before completion, but among the most often cited by shoppers are:

  • Unexpected costs (shipping, taxes, fees)
  • Forced account creation before checking out
  • Payment security concerns
  • Long or confusing checkout process
  • Unexpected (real-world) distractions
  • Lack of payment options
  • Unfriendly return policy
  • Poor mobile checkout experience

Some of these reasons can’t be easily fixed—you can’t keep a shopper from getting distracted by a nosy friend or a puppy with a small bladder, for example. But many of these reasons for shopping cart abandonment can be addressed.

How to Get Shoppers to Checkout

It’s probably obvious, but the best way to combat shopping cart abandonment is to lower your abandonment rate. Lowering your shop’s rate from the average of seven in 10 shoppers to just six in 10 can represent a huge increase in revenue. Let’s do some quick, back-of-the-envelope math on that.

Say your average cart size is $50, and you’re getting 300 completed orders each month. That’s revenue of $15,000 per month! But if your abandonment rate is in the neighborhood of 70 percent (which is the industry average, remember), that means 700 potential orders are being abandoned. Just lowering your abandonment rate a tick down to 60 percent means a boost in 100 orders per month, or an extra $5,000 in revenue.

The best way to lower that rate is to address the reasons people abandon carts. Every store is different, so it’s best to do some customer research and ask your customers what specific reasons keep them from completing orders in your shop. However, it’s a good idea to address some of the key reasons that are pretty universal across all online shoppers.

  • If your margins support it, offer free or discounted shipping (bonus tip: create a minimum order threshold to receive free shipping to increase your average order value).
  • Allow guest checkout (bonus tip: offer an incentive after checkout for account creation, like a free digital download or expedited shipping)
  • Offer multiple payment options and make sure your site has an up-to-date SSL certificate and other security indicators
  • Make sure your return policy is clear, fair, and easily accessible during checkout
  • Simplify your checkout process and make sure it is mobile-friendly (eCommerce is going mobile: 62 percent of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last six months—there are over 125 million smartphone users in the United States alone!)

By addressing the main reasons for cart abandonment, along with any specific reasons your customers report to you about your own shop, you can significantly lower your abandonment rate. As the quick math above shows, it doesn’t take a huge drop in your rate to result in a meaningful revenue boost.

Recovering Abandoned Carts 101

Of course, even if you manage to lower your abandonment rate to 60 percent or lower, that could still mean hundreds or thousands of orders being abandoned each month. That’s revenue you’re leaving on the table! But not all is lost. Some of that revenue can be recovered using abandoned cart recovery emails.

Many of those abandoned carts are probably lost for good because you don’t have any contact information from the shopper to try to win them back to checkout. But for a percentage of the carts, your shopper will have gotten far enough along in the process that you’ll have an email address (or, if they’re an existing customer with an account, they may already be logged in). When that happens, you can send an email to recover those carts.

According to MaxTraffic, 75% of consumers who abandon carts do intend to return… most just don’t follow through, so they never come back. Email is an easy way to nudge those shoppers back to their waiting cart and get them to checkout. You can use email to provide incentives for checkout (like a discount code) or offer additional support to solve any issues they might be experiencing (like a confusing checkout process, a technical bug, or concerns about unexpected costs).

The easiest way to send recovery emails is by using a service that plugs directly into WooCommerce, like Jilt. Jilt integrates with WooCommerce (and Easy Digital Downloads) to make sure your shoppers can pick up right where they left off, with their cart contents intact, and it automatically sends your recovery emails on a schedule you define (most recovery campaigns send one email shortly after abandonment, and another email or two a few days later).

Using Jilt, most shop owners find that they recover about 15 percent of their abandoned carts. Based on our example shop from above, saving 15 percent of abandoned carts would be another 90 sales per month—or, additional revenue of $4,500. (Your numbers will vary based on your actual abandonment rate, order volume, and average order value.)

So by making some tweaks to the shopping experience aimed at reducing cart abandonment, and implementing abandoned cart recovery emails, our example shop turned $15,000 per month in revenue into $24,500. That is why addressing abandoned shopping carts is so important for any eCommerce store!