For all market e-commerce, the ‘black beast’ of their business is the shopping cart abandonment rate. Everyone must fight this problem: from giants like Amazon, eBay and Zappos to small online retailers. Various statistics put this rate between 60% and 80%, which means that 3 out of 4 customers do not finish their purchase. Where do their sales go? Nowhere. This is clearly a serious problem for e-commerce.

How do you calculate the shopping cart abandonment rate? This is an increasingly frequent question among those who wish to undertake online retailing. Its calculation is not complicated, but its interpretation has some difficulty since it must be ascertained before what is the average rate of a given industry, as will be revealed in the following lines.

What is the formula for calculating the cart abandonment rate?

There is no need to learn complex mathematical formulas to determine the shopping cart abandonment rate of e-commerce. In reality, you only need to know two facts: the number of completed transactions (conversions or sales) and the number of shopping carts created by users.

First, we will divide the first number by the second, and then multiply the result by 100. In this way, we will not obtain the percentage of abandoned carts, but the percentage of transactions successfully completed. This data, however, is sufficient to know the rate we are interested in, which will correspond to the remaining percentage.

Let’s see a simple example: in a given period, the company XYZ has had 3,399 conversions or sales, but the number of shopping carts initiated is 18,250. What a difference! The cart abandonment rate would be obtained by dividing 3,399 by 18,250; after multiplying the result by 100, we would have 18.62%, which means that lost sales (abandoned carts) are 81.38%. So calculating the shopping cart abandonment rate is not a challenge, is it?

Shopping cart abandonment analysis is part of the day-to-day work of marketing teams. The interpretation of this metric can be very revealing for these specialists. Generally speaking, we can understand that…

  • High cart abandonment rates indicate that the user experience is poor and should be improved. Among the possible causative factors, checkout processes are too long or a low number of payment options, among others.
  • On the other hand, low cart abandonment rates indicate that usability is excellent. Users are comfortable with the payment methods offered, and the process of filling out shipping forms is not so cumbersome as to make them give up their purchases.

And the average cart abandonment rate, what is it in each industry?

To calculate the shopping cart abandonment rate of an e-commerce is not enough. This isolated data does not mean anything; compared to a previous record (last year’s shopping cart abandonment rate) it does provide interesting information for online retailers. Even then, how to determine the good or bad performance of an e-commerce without first comparing it to the competition?

This is not possible without first knowing the average shopping cart abandonment rate of our commercial rivals. Obviously calling them and asking them directly is not a good idea. However, various statistics allow us to know the different averages of cart abandonment by industries and sectors.

In this sense, enough studies have been carried out to generate a lot of confusion in this regard. Some reports place the abandonment rate as high as 80%, while others do so below 55%. According to a Statista report, the average number of abandoned carts in all sectors during the second quarter of 2018 was 75.4%. But let’s look at the percentages for each of them:

Source: Statista

  • Tourism and travel have the dubious honour of being the sector with the highest number of abandoned shopping carts: 81.8%.
  • It is closely followed by the legal sector, whose rate of abandoned shopping carts exceeds 75%.
  • Retailing is not free of abandoned carts, where there is also a real ‘epidemic’ in this sense: 74.1%, no less.
  • Another sector with the highest number of abandoned carts is fashion and accessories, with 71.5%.

As we have been warning, there are many studies and reports that have deepened the rate of abandoned carts by industries. Another interesting Barilliance report is very close to Statista’s data, calculating the average rate of abandonment of carts at 77.24%.

The average shopping cart abandonment rate is not worth further study. However, we would stress that mobile traffic has different rates than computer traffic and must, therefore, be analysed on an individual basis.

Currently, users connecting from tablets and mobiles account for more than half of all e-commerce traffic. Due to the particularities of these devices, the rates of abandonment of the shopping cart are more negative, surpassing on average 80.74% in the case of tablets and 85.65% in the case of mobiles.

After reviewing these metrics, one of the most obvious conclusions is that mobile users are less likely to complete online purchases. In other words, mobile traffic is detrimental to e-commerce conversions, as more shopping carts are abandoned.

This poses many challenges to e-commerce. If the trend continues and mobile traffic continues to grow, digital retailers will face a veritable epidemic of abandoned shopping carts. But there is another way to approach this problem: e-commerce must improve its responsive version, create checkout processes adapted to mobile users and ultimately offer a better experience to this audience.