8 min read

Cart Abandonment vs. Checkout Abandonment: Do You Know the Difference?

Written by Andriy Boychuk
8 min read

Nothing looks more lonely than an abandoned shopping cart. Gathering these scattered items, carelessly discarded by customers as they leave with their purchases, is a constant headache for bricks and mortar business owners.

For online retailers, however, abandoned shopping carts are more than just a job for the trolley collector. They represent lost sales: customers that not only failed to buy their product or service but never even made it to the checkout.

Understanding the difference between cart abandonment vs checkout abandonment can be an important step in improving sales of your online product.

So let’s load up a cart, figuratively speaking, with information about cart abandonment and checkout abandonment, and then look at ways of avoiding, and rectifying, these impediments to customers’ experience.

Cart Abandonment Vs. Checkout Abandonment: Know the Differences

It is perfectly normal human behavior to change your mind about a purchase.

People like to feel that the hard-earned cash they are handing over for a product or service is:

  • Giving them value for money
  • Making them feel good

If some part of the shopping experience doesn’t live up to their expectations or satisfy their needs, they will, understandably, back away from completing the deal.

Recover your cart abandonment and checkout abandonment with good emails.

In order to figure out why your customers are abandoning their purchases before they have completed them, it is important to consider the subtle differences between cart abandonment vs checkout abandonment.

Having a good grasp of these distinctions will make it easier to come up with effective ways in which to encourage your customers to complete their purchases.

It will also enable you to re-engage with customers who have abandoned their transactions and entice them back to the checkout.

Cart Abandonment

Cold feet on the way to the checkout. We all know the feeling.

You have perused the online shop of your choice. You have selected the items you desire and added them to your shopping cart. But then, having filled your virtual shopping cart with goodies, you began to think: “Do I really need this stuff?”

According to Webopedia, cart abandonment is an eCommerce term used to describe “visitors who add items to their online shopping cart, but exit without completing the purchase.”

Apart from reconsidering their purchases, customers may have several reasons for abandoning their cart prior to proceeding to the checkout. For instance:

  • They may be comparing prices with other retailers
  • They may be browsing or “just looking”
  • They may have an issue with the shipping or how long delivery will take.

Checkout Abandonment

In order to ensure that customers don’t abandon their purchases at the checkout, businesses need to optimize their checkouts for efficiency, security, and convenience.

Checkout abandonment is often caused by the customer being turned off by a difficult or confusing checkout.

A high rate of checkout abandonment often signals a problem with the shopper’s experience at the checkout. These issues are known as customer friction points.

Some key reasons that customers abandon their purchases at the checkout include:

  • The checkout process is complicated and there are too many fields to fill in
  • They can’t figure out which currency they are being charged in
  • They have concerns about how secure the site or payment platform is
  • The site crashes or fails to load quickly
  • They are pressured to add more items or services to their cart.

Cart Abandonment or Checkout Abandonment: What Difference Does It Make?

In order to make improvements to your customers’ shopping experience, you need to be able to define which of those experiences are making them abandon their cart or forego the checkout.

By looking for patterns leading up the cart or checkout abandonment you can:

  • Institute improvements to the way customers interact with your site
  • Improve your checkout to make it more user-friendly
  • Ensure your customers feel that your site is safe and secure
  • Use this knowledge to encourage customers back to your site.

It may sound counter-intuitive but targeting the reasons why people abandon their carts, rather than their checkout, is a far more robust and effective way to deal with the phenomena of abandonment.

What Are the Cart and Checkout Abandonment Average Rates?

Based on several ecommerce studies, abandonment rates can be as high as 75% of customers.

The average cart abandonment rate is a little lower at 68% but, regardless of the exact statistics, abandonment rates represent a large chunk of online purchases not being completed.

Both cart abandonment and checkout abandonment rates can be calculated by dividing the total number of successful purchases by the number of abandoned carts or abandoned checkout transactions.

The resulting number is then subtracted from 1 and multiplied by 100 to give a percentage.

For example: Out of 500 carts, only 100 resulted in successfully completed purchases. Therefore,

100 ÷ 500 = 0.2
1 – 0.2 = 0.8
0.8 x 100 = 80% abandonment

What Can Be Done to Fix Cart and Checkout Abandonment?

A wobbly wheel on a shopping cart is an inconvenience we have all encountered. And just like a wonky trolley, the problem of cart and checkout abandonment is something that can be solved with some simple maintenance.

Here is a checklist of six straightforward ways in which you can optimize your customers’ shopping and checkout experience.

1. Avoid forcing customers to create an account or register

This can be a long and complex procedure and customers may quickly tire of filling in a bunch of fields.

A better option is to use a post-purchase registration system.

2. Don’t add additional or unexpected charges at the checkout

Customers become frustrated very quickly if the item they have chosen has suddenly increased in price
due to extra costs that have appeared as if by magic.

Be upfront with the total cost of the product or service.

3. Make sure your platform’s performance is fast

Everyone is in a hurry these days and a site that is slow to load is, at best, annoying and, at worst, cause for your customer to lose interest and wander off to a faster site.

4. Optimize your site for mobile (and other devices)

The small screen is king in this age where everyone has a shopping mall in their pocket. So ensure your site will work effectively across as many different devices as possible.

5. Encourage your customers to save their cart as they go

A saved cart will make it easier for the customer to return to complete their checkout without having to repeat the steps that they have already taken.

6. Collect your customers’ email addresses early on

Obtaining your customer’s email address (rather than getting them to fill in online registration) will allow you to establish a one-on-one relationship with your client.

Further to that, if the customer fails to complete their purchase, either by abandoning their cart or their checkout, you can follow up and entice them back to complete their purchase.

You can hire a consultant that will help you select the best abandoned cart emails that you can send to your customer.

In the virtual aisles of the online shopping world, the ability to grasp the differing aspects of cart abandonment vs checkout abandonment has become increasingly important.

It can help ensure the ongoing success of your business and let you avoid having to collect too many of those lonely abandoned carts.


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