Miniature shopping carts in a row

My Amazon shopping cart is my notepad, my wish list and my shopping list all at once – and I’m not alone. But what do studies say about shopping cart usage patterns in eCommerce and what do retailers need to keep in mind to avoid the dreaded shopping cart abandonment?

A few benchmarks for comparison

The „add-to-cart“ conversion rate indicates how many visitors to a shopping site actually saved a product in the shopping cart. The benchmark for this KPI is 4 % on average, but it varies by industry. For example, it is 3 % in the furniture sector and as high as 7 % in the beauty sector (source: Littledata).

The average sum of orders in the eCommerce sector is 128 US dollars. This sum is derived from the average of various international eCommerce studies (source: growcode). Again, the figures differ by industry, but also by season. For example, the average will certainly be higher in the months before Christmas (in countries where Christmas is celebrated) than in during Summer, for example.

Another interesting stat is the average number of products in an order or a cart. According to a Statista survey of American retail customers, one in three customers buys four or more products with one order. Approximately one in four buys one to two products and 18 % buy three products. Meanwhile, a study by Nosto (PDF) has shown that in the DACH region there are more products in the shopping cart on average than in other European countries. There are four to five products in contrast to two to three in Great Britain or France.

By the way, benchmarks should not be used to identify your own target figures. Due to the many differences resulting from market size, industry, region, etc., they can only ever show a very broad overview that does not necessarily correspond to your own benchmarks and numbers.

Smartphone customers are more spontaneous (in churning)

Those who shop on their desktop usually have more patience and are more likely to shop, at least according to studies. The Nosto study states that retail customers who buy via smartphone have fewer products in their shopping carts than customers sitting at their computers at home. In addition, the abandonment rate is higher, even if there are already products in the shopping cart (source: Barilliance).

Those who shop at their desktop usually have more patience and are more likely to make a purchase.

So, the shopping cart affects customers differently depending on where they are and what device they use. This distinction is important for retailers because it potentially follows that shopping carts need to be designed differently for mobile customers to reduce churn. For example, it can help to make them simpler, less focused on quantity, and at the same time trustworthy, since shopping cart bounces often have to do with a lack of trust in payment transactions.

Shopping cart usage must be optimized

Only one in three stores provides visual confirmation that an item has been added to the shopping cart (source: konversionsKRAFT), although customers do like a notification. Meanwhile, the direct forwarding to the shopping cart as soon as a product has been added has a less positive effect. Rather than the direct page change, a pop-up or a slider that provides information about the contents of the shopping cart is recommended. This can simply be clicked away when customers want to continue shopping.

The most frequently cited reasons for shopping cart abandonment include excessively high shipping costs, the creation of a user account, and an overly complex purchasing process.

(Source: Baymard Institute)

However, for many customers, an abandonment is not immediately a final abandonment. Many shopping cart abandonments are based on customers wanting to take their time to think things over. Current studies show that online customers take four times longer to decide on a purchase (seven days vs. 28 days). One reason for this is certainly that the shopping cart virtually invites customers to take their time. However, retailers should see this as an opportunity, not an obstacle.

For example, emails sent to (registered) customers after a shopping cart abandonment have an open rate of 45 %. This is well above average (source: moosend). Also, well-placed advertising on other platforms can motivate purchases if customers have agreed to cookie tracking. Relevance and frequency are important here. If a customer sees the same ad too often and on too many platforms, they will quickly feel „tracked.“

Best practices for your shopping cart

The best description for the shopping cart is „shopping cart“ or „cart“ or whatever other word is most commonly used. Customers know these terms from other shops and get confused if you try to be creative. A shopping cart icon can also further help with navigation.

Further product recommendations (cross-selling) should only be displayed once customers have already placed their desired product in the shopping cart. This makes them less likely to question their decision.

It must also be possible to use the shopping cart without registering a user account. With cookies enabled, returning customers can still view the products in the shopping cart days or even weeks later. Plus, this is also an incentive for customers to enable cookie tracking.

Customers want to be able to see the combined price of all products already in the shopping cart. Hidden fees or holding back on additional costs way into the payment process is a sure-way to purchase abandonment.

Payment options should already be displayed in the shopping cart, including so-called „trust“ certificates that assure that data protection is guaranteed during the purchase.

Important product info for items displayed in the shopping cart includes:

  • Item description (with link to product page)
  • Photo (if available)
  • Item number
  • Volume of each item ordered (with drop-down for easy customization)
  • Price (if multiple items, the total price)
  • Approximate delivery time

Do you think of implementing your own online shop or want to find new ways to optimize it? Our info page shows numerous options for a successful, integrated customer experience.

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