How to Limit Cart Abandonment on Your eCommerce Site

Cart abandonment is one of the greatest challenges eCommerce retailers face.

Just when you think you’re about to make sale, suddenly your customer decides to leave your site and you fail to make a profit. What can be more annoying than that?

What’s most frustrating about this phenomenon is that it can be particularly hard to understand why this is happening, especially if it's happening on a regular basis? Seriously, what possesses a potential customer to add something to their shopping cart and fail to make a purchase? They’ve already shown interest in a product, reviewed the product details and have demonstrated intent to purchase. So close!

In this article we’ll walk you through the techniques used by the best in the business to limit cart abandonment on your eCommerce site.

From understanding the reasons why your customers are leaving your site after adding products to their cart, to undertaking a full-cycle analysis of your sales funnel, to identifying holes in your cart journey; with any luck by the end of this article you’ll be seeing a much lower rate of cart abandonment on your eCommerce site.

Start by visualising your conversion funnel

If you’re looking to limit cart abandonment on your eCommerce site, the first thing you need to do is to begin to understand your customers journey through your site.

This means using Google Analytics to track the path your customers take to reach key pages on your site (i.e. your shopping cart), and why certain parts of your journey may be letting you down and lending themselves to cart abandonment?

Google Analytics provides a few key features which you’ll need to use in conjunction with each other to gain a solid understanding of your customers’ journey. This includes:

Event tracking

Event Tracking is used to record when events on your site occur. An example of this may be clicking a “Pay Now” button on your product page. The great thing about GA event tracking is that it’s super-simple to implement and you can name your events anything you like.

When setting up Analytics event tracking, GA only requires you to record a few key details when your user undertakes an action, these being "eventCategory" and "eventAction", however it's good practice to add an "eventLabel" value when it makes sense.

Analytics event tracking fields

To implement event tracking on your site, simply call a JavaScript function as per the below when an event occurs (i.e. a button click) and you’ll soon begin to see data show up in your Analytics console that will form the the basis of your funnel visualization.

Analytics event tracking code

The key to describing your event tracking data is naming each of the items in a hierarchical top-down format that makes sense to you. For example, you may elect the following values for your fields:

If you’re seeing a low percentage of products being purchased which have been added to your cart, event tracking can be useful in determining why? A/B testing your button labels, colours and position on-screen over time can help to determine why your users prefer certain elements to appear a given way, and can really assist in improving your bottom-line.

When you begin to see event data in your Analytics console, expect to see something like the below after navigating down to the “eventLabel” level where in this case the below values represent the text on buttons used to add items to cart:

Analytics event tracking data

Goals

In the above example we configured some basic code to track whether a customer has proceeded to your checkout and which button label were most effective. However using goals, we can determine how many of your users are actually taking this step as a percentage of those who reach this page.

Sure we could divide the number of page views by the number of successful events, but an easier way (and more accurate) is to setup goals.

To do so, navigate to the Admin section of your Analytics console, click “Goals” and configure your goal as per the below screenshot.

Analytics Goal Setup

You may be wondering what happened to the eventLabel? We don’t need it. Because your button label may change, you can leave this blank and track all the goals that occur at the eventAction level. All that is required is to view your goal performance by visiting Conversions > Goals > Overview for a report on how many of your goals are being achieved.

Analytics Goal Completions

Funnel visualizations

Now that you’ve correctly setup your event tracking and goals within GA, you can begin to understand the most important part of your information flow; cart abandonment.

As you can see in the below funnel visualization, we’ve recorded tracking on three key pages, these being the Product Page, Shopping Cart and Checkout; with the final action recording when the user (hopefully) makes a purchase.

As you begin to traverse down the funnel visualization you can see a steady drop-off of customers, in fact from the start of the funnel which represents 100% of customers who have added items to cart from the Product Page, we can see that only 60.19% of customers actually make a purchase.

However, as typical as this may be for many eCommerce retailers, included within this funnel visualization are some fascinating details you can use to increase the number of customers making a purchase.

For example, it’s interesting to note that:

It’s insights like this that are key to transforming abandoned cart figures. If you can determine why these items are factors in your cart flow, then your abandonment figures will be much easier to moderate. Even if you’re able to decrease your cart abandonment by 10% this can have a major affect on your bottom-line, but the key to understanding why these items lies in our next section.

Analytics Goal Funnel Visualization

Limiting cart abandonment through A/B testing

In the previous section we generated a funnel visualization that identified two pages customers were abandoning cart to visit; these being the the /terms/ and /cart/ pages.

To decrease the number of times your customers abandon cart and exit your sales funnel, you’re going to want to setup and conduct an A/B testing process.

To do so, begin by navigating the cart funnel yourself as any customer would. If you can see any glaring reasons why you may want to leave the checkout to return to cart at the final stage, or leave the cart process entirely to review the terms and conditions of purchase, then these are the items you are going to want to amend. If you feel there is no obvious reason for these issues, it may be a case of providing your customers with access to more information during the cart process, or providing them with a popup that can give extra information whilst keeping them in the funnel.

When you’ve identified how you’re going to adjust your pages, make sure you make a copy of your existing pages (i.e. Product, Cart and Checkout) as these will serve as you’re A test in your A/B variant test. Your B variant, will be your new set of pages which will hopefully eliminate the cart abandonment you’re seeing, or at very least decrease your figures.

Conclusion

Cart abandonment is one of these most important facets of online retailing you’re going to want to manage. Why? Because this has a direct affect on your bottom-line.

The key to limiting cart abandonment is understanding the reasons that permit it in the first place remembering that there’s no such thing as zero cart abandonment in eCommerce. Sometimes your users will be testing your site out and will have no intention of purchasing, but it’s the repeat circumstances that show up in cart funnel visualizations that will allow you to decrease cart abandonment figures over time.

What many eCommerce retailers don’t realise, is that when you do manage to eliminate the common issues where your user base is abandoning cart, you’ll have a clearer picture over a new set of areas you can look to improve, therefore cart abandonment testing and refinement is an ongoing process.

As important as it is to drive visitation across your eCommerce site, it’s vitally important to get the most from the visitation figures you're receiving right now, and the best way to do this is by optimising your cart funnel for decreased abandonment.

If you’re looking for assistance optimising your shopping cart funnel and limiting cart abandonment on your eCommerce site, feel free to get in touch with the team at OSE.