Abandoned Cart Mystery: Why Customers Leave and How to Win Them Back

Alex Cowell
10 min readAug 28, 2020


Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment. You’re having another slow day at the office when suddenly feel the urge to buy a new pair of kicks. You start browsing and after a while, you run into a perfect pair.

And then your boss calls asking about that report you were supposed to submit a few days ago. You panic, close the tabs, and leave the kicks behind. Absent-minded or strategically distracted, people forget to prepare reports and abandon their carts all the time.

According to Statista, on average, only 12% of the customers make it through the checkout. The number varies depending on the category and, in the worst-case scenario, can go up to a 96% abandonment rate.

Statistics also show that mobile users tend to drop their carts more often than visitors who use tablet or desktop.

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Shopping cart abandonment is one of the biggest headaches of eCommerce business owners. Apart from regretting the deal that never happened, they start questioning what they did wrong. Curiously enough, in many cases, there is nothing wrong with either their products or their approach.

A Few Insights

Compared to physical retailers, etailers have to fight for their customers’ attention twice as much. Think about this — when a person walks into a store determined to buy a new pair of shoes, and they find the one they like, chances are they will walk out of that store with the purchase. When a person looks for the same thing online, staying focused can be challenging. Once they finally choose a pair, they get distracted by a message from a friend, a YouTube video, or another website, and abandon the cart.

Although many things are beyond our control, in some cases, customers do leave online stores because of the poor experience.

Your job as an etailer is to be honest, provide the best service possible, analyze data, and remind your customers about the goodies they’ve left behind.

And while the competition grows every year and the rates of abandoned carts go up, at the same time etailers get a chance to use more tools to automate their sales and support process. There is a bright side of statistics too: abandoned cart emails have a staggering 45% open rate and 10% of the customers tend to come back and buy what they’ve left behind.

If you prefer actual numbers, you can use an abandoned cart calculator to have a glimpse of how much you could recover.

The good news is that revenue can be recovered

So instead of worrying about what you did wrong, think of it this way: the customer made an effort to look through your website, found something they like, and almost made it all the way till the checkout. If it was simply a matter of distraction — a discreet reminder might help.

But first, you need to make sure that you’ve done your part to keep the customer happy.

Now, let’s review the common reasons why people abandon the carts.

Top 7 Reasons Why Customers Abandon Their Carts

It’s important to stay aware of the most popular abandoned cart cases. If some of them look familiar, take immediate action.

Here’s a summary of the most common issues:

  1. They are not ready to buy
  2. You’ve misled them
  3. Your website is not up to standard
  4. Complicated ordering and checkout process
  5. Poor support
  6. Delivery takes too long
  7. Payment issues

Now, let’s review them one by one.

They Are Not Ready

Accept the fact that some of the website visitors will leave without a purchase. Typically, we go through three stages of the buying cycle: awareness, consideration, and purchase. In the first two stages, your customers would browse the other stores, find better deals, change their minds, or decide to postpone it till the next paycheck.

What can you do about it? The purchases happen only so often, and that’s ok. You cannot control everything, accept this.

You’ve Misled Them

Another popular reason why people abandon carts is deceit. There is nothing worse than going through a lengthy ordering and checking out process just to see an additional shipping cost, the discount code that failed to work, or another hidden fee. It doesn’t matter if the hidden cost is low since you haven’t mentioned it in advance, people will no longer trust you.

What can you do about it? Be honest. Then, try to reduce the shipping cost, your ultimate goal is to make it free. If you cannot do so, let the customer know about the shipping price before they hit that “Add to cart” button and display the total price in the cart.

Your Website is Not Up to Standard

Not only your online shop and products should look attractive and up-to-date but your UI/UX should be impeccable, all the links must work, and don’t forget about straightforward navigation. Your website should inspire trust and be eye-catching.

What can you do about it? Fix it. Go through the buying process yourself and think about what you can improve. If you’ve created the site by yourself, ask a professional to take a good look at it. Hire a photographer to make your products look sexy.

And make sure you’ve got a feedback form on your website.

Complicated Ordering and Checkout Process

When you make your customer do a lot of unnecessary actions before they finally get to the finish line, you are risking losing them. Or when you make them fill in the billing and shipping address separately, even if they are the same, prepare to see another order that has never happened.

What can you do about it? Consider adding a guest checkout option if you haven’t done that yet. The easier it is to get to the checkout, the better are your chances that the customer finalizes their purchase. Mark each step they have to take and display all of them in the top bar, so the whole process is completely transparent.

Poor Support

66% of people say that frustrating customer service experience hurts their opinion on the brand.

Even if you run a small store, you need to provide your customers with high-standard support. An efficient work of the support team can lead to conversions and attract loyal customers.

Good customer service is your trump card

In the ideal world, a person (or a robot) who consults your customers is fast and efficient, has excellent product knowledge, advises the best fitting option, forecasts the loss of interest, and leads your customer towards the purchase.

What can you do about it? Depending on the volume of your business, there are quite a few solutions you can choose from: take care of the support yourself, hire and train an employee, reach out to outsource call centers, or automate the support and sales process.

Even if you feel that you’re not in that stage when you need to hire a team, don’t take this issue lightly. Eventually, your business will grow and if you don’t want to lose profit, you’ll have to deliver the best service possible.

Delivery Takes Too Long

Delivery time can be a serious deal-breaker. Very often people buy things at the last minute, a few days before vacation or a birthday they happened to forget about. If you cannot provide a one-day delivery, they will find somebody that can.

What can you do about it? Consider adding a few delivery options: regular, express, and one-day. It is ok if the faster ones will cost extra, as long as the regular one is free.

Besides, it is in your best interest to provide your customers with a clear and fair return process and make your return policy transparent.

Payment Issues

From credit card declines to bugs and lack of trust — many things can go wrong at the last minute. If you haven’t managed to gain their trust, your customer would feel uncomfortable about leaving their personal information and bail. And if the payment got declined but you didn’t warn them in time, they won’t bother to come back.

What can you do about it? Give your customers a choice of payment methods, guarantee that their data is secure with you, and notify your customers about the failed payments immediately. Luckily, we’ve got tools that allow you to do this hassle-free.

What Else You Can Do to Win Them Back

Abandoned cart emails have the power to win back at least 10% of your customers

The easiest way to remind your customers about their abandoned cart is to send an email. Depending on how well it is, you can win back a good number of customers.

Here are a few things to keep in mind, when writing a follow-up email:

  • Choose the timing right
  • Be short, informative, and try the creative approach
  • Attach good-looking pictures of the goods
  • Make it easy to finalize the purchase
  • Use little tricks: discounts and a sense of urgency

Choose the timing right

Don’t be desperate and send the email seconds after the customer leaves your site. At the same time, if you wait for too long, they might change their mind or find another store with a similar product.

Although there is no universal formula on when exactly you should send your abandoned cart email, sending one in 24 hours is a good start. Additionally, you can send another email in the next 48 hours if the customer hasn’t reacted but it should be aligned with your entire mailing marketing strategy. We don’t want to end up in the spam folder.

At the end of the day, analyzing your customer’s behavior is the best way to figure out a good strategy, don’t hesitate to experiment with timing and number of emails.

Be short, informative, and try the creative approach

Your first goal is to explain precisely who you are and what this is all about. Your second goal is to capture their attention, and there is no better way to do so than being fun and creative.

Whether you’re good at being perky or not quite yet, an abandoned cart email can become your perfect training ground. In most cases, your customers do not expect to receive this email, you catch them by surprise — that’s probably why their opening rate is much higher.

And one more thing: people love visuals. It’s always better to use images rather than write a long paragraph no matter how smart and funny it is.

Attach good-looking pictures of the goods

Pictures speak louder than words. If you manage to make the products in the email look even more attractive than on your website, rest assured they will click on that CTA button.

Whatever you do, make sure to attach a picture of the product — even a brief glance at the image will take your customer back to the state when they’ve been considering a purchase.

Make it easy to finalize the purchase

If your customer talked to the support team but closed the website leaving behind several unread messages, use the CTA-button in your email to redirect them to your website and open the chat.

And the good news is that you don’t need to code or send emails manually nowadays: some live chat platforms, such as Markeaze, allow you to automate this process in a few simple steps with no programming involved.

Use Little Tricks: Discounts and Sense of Urgency

There’s nothing wrong with using little tricks if they benefit both you and your customer. Why not offer a discount code for the returned customers? Everyone likes a good deal, and if that was the price that drove your customer away, they will be pleasantly surprised.

Create a sense of urgency or take them by surprise

And if you’re determined to test every possible means, you can dramatize the effect a little and create a sense of urgency, referring that there are only a few items that are left in the stock. It’s an old trick but it does work.


Accept the fact that customers will abandon carts all the time. Sometimes they are not ready to make a purchase, sometimes they get distracted. Whatever the reason is, you should never take a hands-off approach. Because if you do, it will cost you thousands of dollars monthly.

Acknowledge the problem and collect your abandoned cart statistics. Once you gather the insights, evaluate your store from the customer’s perspective. Is your website up to standard? Are you being honest with your customers? Is it easy enough to find the right product and pay for it? If you cannot be objective, ask your customers.

Pay attention to the work of your support team — if it’s qualified enough and equipped with all the necessary tools, it can forecast the slips and lower the rate of cart abandonment.

When sending an abandoned cart email, make sure to use visuals, and send your customers back to the state of mind that they had when they almost made that purchase.

And the best part is that you don’t even have to hire and train a big team to improve your rates: nowadays, most of the eCommerce processes can be automized.

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