Online consumers are abandoning shopping carts at an accelerating rate. In a recent survey conducted by Paypal and Comscore among ecommerce shoppers, 45% of the 553 people surveyed had abandoned multiple shopping carts in the previous three weeks.

The survey ranks a variety of reasons for abandonment:

  • High shipping charges: 46%
  • Comparison shopping: 37%
  • Could not afford the product: 36%
  • Went looking for coupons: 27%
  • Wanted to shop offline: 26%
  • Preferred payment option not available: 24%
  • Item unavailable: 23%
  • Could not locate customer support: 22%
  • Concerned about security of credit card data: 21%

The average cost of abandoned goods is GBP 66 (USD $109) per abandonment.

The main reaction to almost all of the reasons for shopping cart abandonment is frustration. The customer gets to the final stages of the check out, when suddenly a problem arises. The buyer gets frustrated and doesn't finalise the purchase.

As an online business owner you may need to make some changes to your current business practices to reduce the number of customers that get away. Try the following solutions to optimise your shopping cart and turn those abandoned shopping carts into purchases:

  1. Soften the Reality of Shipping Charges

    Let the customer see an estimated shipping cost before the payment process. Your shopping cart software should be able to calculate exact shipping charges based on the purchase weight, volume and customer location. Give an estimate of the shipping costs before the final payment step. Post those shipping and handling fees on the webpage before the final step of the purchase. Be wary of inflating shipping costs to make extra cash. Remember, almost fifty percent of shoppers abandon a purchase because they think shipping costs are too high.

    Implement some new innovative ways to soften shipping charges by offering free shipping for a larger amount purchase. Try a discount on the shipping charge for a larger quantity of items purchased, or free shipping on specific items purchased. A time limit should be placed on these shipping specials so you can evaluate your sales during this trial period to determine if a shipping promotion works for your business.

  2. Keep the Comparison Shopper

    Offer sale items to attract bargain shoppers. The majority of potential buyers are comparison shopping. Everyone is in search of a bargain. That means that sale items are especially influential. Customers will remember that they purchased from your business at good prices and come back.

    As an online business owner you also need to take a page from your customers' playbook and comparison shop your own products at the competition's websites, to see what they see and react accordingly.Promote a price match policy. In order to win purchases from a competitor, a price match program needs to have a simple and almost immediate process implemented for contact, and a quick response to the customer for the price match.

    If your price adjustments are not communicated to your customers quickly enough, they will become frustrated with the process and purchase from the competition. Since you cannot eliminate comparison shopping, turn it into an opportunity, if you can afford to do so.

  3. Give Away Coupons to Second-Time Customers

    Consider promoting an after-purchase coupon: 'Thank you for purchasing with us today, here is a 10% off coupon towards your next purchase with us'

  4. All Payment Methods are Good Money

    Offer as many payment options as logistically viable for your business. It may surprise you but there are still many customers who only purchase through cheque, either because they are concerned about security online or because they do not own a payment card.

    Display any security and SSL certificates seals next to your payment forms to assure customers that your transactions are secure.

  5. Make Your Customer Service Accessible

    Show your customer support contact details prominently at checkout: consider offering live chat or, if your business can cope with the volume of calls, offer phone support to clear any doubts immediately at the time of purchase.