The Psychology of Cart Abandonments

eCommerce cart abandonment is when online shoppers add items to the shopping cart, and then leave your site before completing the purchase. Category Managers witness that one of the primary reasons for a dip in purchase conversion is an increase in abandoned carts. While one witnesses statistics that 80% of the cart additions gets abandoned across most categories in e-commerce, I believe the problem is over-exaggerated and all of the cart abandonment is not actually abandonment.

Some of the main reasons for cart abandonment are:

  • the consumer just added it to the cart as a way to shortlist the item and to reduce the discovery time
  • pricing has increased after adding to the cart or during checkout or couldn’t understand the total bill at the listing itself or the billing duration has increased
  • discount coupon or code not working as expected
  • payment method has failed or payment didn’t go through
  • customers have got a better deal after shortlisting the item and comparing the item on other websites
  • added to cart to get discount/deal notifications on the item
  • Additional shipping costs are usually not very clear even on established websites such as Amazon. Additional shipping cost at checkout frustrates all customers.
  • customers are checking(testing) the monthly installment (EMI) payment value and abandoned it due to the higher price of EMI or if EMI is not working as expected
  • Longer delivery timelines than expected

Mobile vs. Desktop

Cart abandonment is usually much higher on mobile (85%) than on the desktop (75%) for e-commerce on average. This definitely varies across categories (high involvement research-oriented vs. low involvement categories).

  • Desktop traffic has a lower number of users using carts as a way to shortlist items whereas mobile has more number of users using carts as a way to shortlist items.
  • Moreover, when somebody is buying on the desktop it is usually for high involvement categories, and therefore, mobile users come with a higher intention too, leading to better conversion rates.
  • Desktop checkout and even registration at checkout is more seamless than on mobile apps, reducing dropouts at purchase.

The next 24 hrs after adding to cart

Statistics for the conversion after abandonment looks as below for e-commerce in general.


One of the most powerful techniques for recovering abandoned carts is sending emails to remind people about what they left behind. According to Salesforce, it’s totally worth it: if you send a cart abandonment email within a day, you can recover 60 percent of sales. The best advice to bring back customers who abandoned carts is:

  • Send one within a few hours checking if there were technical errors, or other issues, that stopped them from completing the sale and reminding them of what they left behind
  • Send a second within 24 hours, with a reminder of the cart contents and potentially including a discount
  • Send a third within 48 hours, offering (or reiterating) a discount or other incentive for completing the sale and employing the persuasion technique of scarcity (such as by telling customers their cart will expire soon)

Instead of looking at cart abandonment as something that’s bad for the business, one should look at it as an opportunity to connect with customers and bring them back. Remarketing emails, social media engagement, and personalized loyalty programs go a long way in helping you recover abandoned carts, while also increasing brand loyalty among your customers.

Hope this is useful, thank you!