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Abandoned purchases in e-commerce - recognizing and solving problems


Published on: May 18, 2019

Updated: September 11, 2023

A bulging shopping cart and then another click on the “Buy” button – that would be the wish of every online retailer. Unfortunately, things usually turn out differently in the end, because customers often cancel their order process beforehand. It happens far too often that visitors end their shopping in an online store prematurely. However, store operators can prevent purchase cancellations in e-commerce with a few tricks.


[tooltip title=”Abandonment” color=”blue”]Abandonment means that a potential customer leaves the store, does not order the items in the shopping cart, or decides to leave the website in the check-out[/tooltip].

Reasons for purchase abandonment in e-commerce


Reasons for e-commerce purchase abandonment are many. According to a survey by Statista, they can be too high delivery costs (26 percent) or a change of mind (29 percent). A whole two-thirds of customers go astray and end up buying from another store after all. In a study, DPD asked 1,550 people about their online behavior. 16 percent said they often abandon purchases, 39 percent sometimes and 27 percent rarely.


16 percent of respondents said they often cancel their purchases. (Source: Statista)

Not all customers interrupt their shopping trip at the same point. The bounce rate is highest in the store, in the shopping cart or in the check-out. There are various reasons for this:

1. Bounce rate in the store:

Some customers already end their shopping tour here. Causes can be that the product they are looking for is no longer available, the product features such as size or color do not fit, or the item is too expensive. With Recommendation Engines, for example, retailers can better adapt their offers to the customer. Personalized product recommendations show customers the items that also suit them.

2. Shopping cart bounce rate:

Abandonments often take place here because visitors use the shopping cart as a watch list. They save items so that they can look at them again later. Uncertainty can also lead to purchase abandonment. Customers are still undecided whether they really want to place the order. Another reason may be that the total price displayed in the shopping cart is too high.

3. Bounce rate in check-out:

There are a lot of things merchants can do wrong here. Technical problems, missing product information or lack of trust towards the store discourages customers. Also unexpected costs, unsuitable payment methods, a too long check-out process, a too long delivery time and the obligation of a customer account can lead to customers not completing the check-out process.

How to avoid purchase abandonment

The goal of online retailers is, of course, to get customers to make a purchase from their store. However, it is quite unlikely that everyone will do so. Nevertheless, store operators should try to get as many visitors as possible to make a purchase. Ideally, the customer will still be so satisfied afterwards that they will be happy to come back. There are a few ways that merchants can still get their visitors to complete the buying process, create a pleasant ordering process, and avoid shopping cart abandonment.

1. User-friendly shopping cart

This means that the product with image is displayed in the shopping cart and customers can click to return to the product from there. In addition, shoppers should be able to easily add products to the cart or delete them. Further steps should be made clearly visible, e.g. with a “Buy now” button. However, care should be taken to ensure that the shopping cart is not overwhelmed with information. Instead, retailers should only show really important details in the shopping cart.

2. Show additional costs early enough

Customers often abandon their purchase when unexpected costs are added, such as shipping. To avoid these situations, merchants should indicate any costs incurred early enough. Ideally, these should be shown directly on the product or directly on the home page. This way, the customer is not in for a nasty surprise in the end.


3. Possibility to shop as a guest

Guest orders give the impression that the buying process is faster. Some customers may not want to create a customer account with every store. They should have the option to shop as a “guest”. If merchants require the creation of a customer account in order to place an order in their store, this can backfire on online merchants. For customers, the creation of an account is associated with a lot of time, they may then prefer to buy from a store where this is not necessary. Pure Nature offers the possibility to create a customer account, or to place a guest order.

Pure Nature offers a guest order. (Source: Pure Nature)


4. Don’t overload the check-out

Customers should be able to complete their purchase as quickly as possible. Check-outs where too many things are required leave a negative impression. It is best to have some fields filled in automatically. For example, the billing address data entered can be used for the shipping address. If these details do not match, the customer can still change them manually. In the check-out, it is also a good idea to have a kind of timeline so that customers know where they are in the ordering process.

5. Create trust

It is important for customers to know to whom they are disclosing their data and where they are leaving their money. Therefore, the store should show that visitors do not have to worry about fraud here. Stores can prove their trustworthiness with certificates, for example, from the well-known rating platform Trusted Shops. With the help of a certificate, Asos shows its customers that their data is handled with confidence.

Asos uses certificates to strengthen trust. (Source: Asos)

6. Show delivery options early

Customers often cancel purchases because delivery takes too long. This is where transparency is key. The fastest delivery options are best indicated right on the product page or in the check-out. This prevents the customer from having to go through the entire check-out process, only to be annoyed and cancel the purchase because the package arrives too late.

7. Offer different payment options

Some like to pay with credit card, others prefer to pay with PayPal. In order to find an acceptable solution for everyone, stores should offer enough payment options. In some countries, different payment methods are preferred. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to adapt these options to the different countries. Zalando already informs its customers about the payment options and the expected delivery time on the first page in the check-out.

Zalando provides early information about payment options and delivery time. (Source: Zalando)

8. Enable simple return conditions

Simple return options are particularly important for customers, because it can always be that the product does not like or fit. Therefore, complicated or costly returns are a reason for many to abandon a purchase. Retailers should therefore make their returns process as simple as possible, for example by allowing customers to download a return label themselves with just a few clicks. It would be even better if the stores included the return label in the package. Not all retailers allow their customers to return their orders in the simplest way possible.

At 23 of Germany’s top 100 online retailers, customers had to request the returns label by e-mail or phone.


There are many reasons for e-commerce purchase cancellations. High delivery costs, lack of payment methods or lower prices at competitors are the most common causes. If you want full shopping carts and many orders, you can ensure customer satisfaction with a few tricks. Displaying additional costs early on, offering guest orders, a simple ordering process, trustworthiness, and early information on delivery and return options are ways to keep customers in the store. But it’s not just a good shopping experience that keeps consumers. Communication during shipping is also important. If the customer has a good post-purchase experience, he is likely to come back. That means he may even fill his shopping cart and click “buy.”

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