Checkout Conversion: Key Reasons for Cart Abandonment and What You Can Do About It

This article was also published at eCommerce Nation, the #1 community for everything eCommerce.

No matter how much traffic you drive to your online store, if shoppers get stuck at checkout, your opportunity to acquire a new customer and its order is lost. Here, we’ve compiled for you the latest stats and reasons for cart abandonment. We also reveal what best performers do when it comes to maximizing checkout conversion, so you can apply their best practices.

$1 Trillion lost annual because of cart abandonment

  • $236Bn were lost due to online shoppers abandoning their cart in Q1 2018, according to That’s over $1 Trillion annualized (with Q4 being a much bigger quarter with Holidays shopping)
  • 7 out of 10 visitors abandon their basket based on a consensus of studies.

In this article we will rely on robust sources of information that will provide the perspective from two complementary angles: Consumers and Merchants.

Consumer insights: “Why do online shoppers abandon checkout?”

This question has been asked to US adults for the last three years. The number of respondents has been increasing as follows: 1,000 in 2016, 1,800 in 2017 and over 2,500 in 2018.

The sample size is big enough to be statistically significant and US online shoppers cover one of the biggest eCommerce market, although there might be slight nuanced in Europe.

The survey is carried out by the Baymard Institute(2), a Danish independent web usability research institute with prestigious clients including Walmart, eBay, Google, Lego, Visa, Microsoft, Adobe and many more.

Merchants: what are the best converting websites doing?

Once you understand what is making consumers act a certain way, you need to turn insights into actions. Here, we offer inspiration from online stores that have been identified as performing the best in converting customers at checkout.

The statistics come from, the #1 site for the payments industry by traffic and the premier source of information about “What’s Next” in payments and commerce. They have been running a Checkout Conversion Index (CCI) since Q4 2015.

Their methodology is as follows: the PYMNTS research team identified and collected data on 676 online merchants via three commercial channels: desktop, mobile and apps.

It examined 74 variables present in the purchasing process through any or all three channels, then used a calculation system which weighed features that drive sales — including payment options and free shipping, among others — in terms of importance. This data was then used to determine each merchant’s unique CCI score.

Spoiler alert: the top drivers for cart abandonment are…

  1. Speed

  2. Unexpected cost

  3. Form filling complexity including registration wall

This is confirmed by both what consumers tell us and what merchants do. Read on for more details for each drivers and how to fight each of them.

#1 Driver for cart abandonment: SPEED

How speed impacts conversion

Here are the key statistics released by Akamai in April 2017(3):

  • A 100-millisecond delay in website load time can hurt conversion rates by 7 percent
  • A two-second delay in web page load time increase bounce rates by 103 percent

What do best performers do?

FEATURE Best Performers Worst Performers
Time in Second to Complete Checkout 119 184
Total Clicks to Checkout 17 25


Best performers have a checkout process that is 50% faster than worst performers with also 50% less clicks.

It’s also interesting to note that eCommerce merchants are improving on this. According to latest study:

  • 2:25min is the average time to check out from sites in Q2 2018 — 12 seconds faster than in Q1 2018
  • 22.08 is the average number of clicks to complete online and mobile purchases in Q2 2018 – 1.77 fewer than Q1 2018

#2 Driver for cart abandonment: HIDDEN EXTRA COSTS including shipping

What do Online Consumers say?

The Baymard Institute asked over 2,500 US adults why they abandon their online purchase during checkout. Below are the latest results.

The ranking hasn’t changed from 2016. Only a few percentages shift from one year to the other, key improvement with less complaints around sites crashing but more complaints around being forced to create an account and trust to give away credit card information.

Reasons for Cart Abandonment 2018

What do best performers do?

FEATURE Best Performers Worst Performers
Free Shipping 93.8% 66.7%


  • That is one way to avoid unexpected extra costs if your business model allows it.
  • Consumer keep raising their expectations around free and fast shipping
  • Free returns are even now becoming the norm and are highly expected in some markets like Germany


Showing at all time total cost and breakdown including shipping costs and additional fees helps set consumers expectations and avoid surprises when they review their order. Best practice is when the order total updates dynamically every time a parameter is changed.

It would look like this:

Play with our demos to see the dynamic updates

#3 Driver for cart abandonment: FORM FILLING COMPLEXITY

Studies have shown how removing unnecessary fields in your checkout form have a positive impact on your conversion rate.

And when we ask online shoppers, they feel the same: almost one in free shoppers abandon their carts because the checkout process was too complicated. It makes sense: we are all time poor!  How many times have you been interrupted in the middle of the process or voluntarily procrastinated to fill out those long boring forms?

Complexity of form filling is a key reason for cart abandonment

The second barrier to completing checkout is forcing visitors to create a account (34% of respondents)

We can’t recommend enough to allow:

  • Guest checkout
  • One line account creation within Checkout

That way you don’t have that barrier upfront that prevents customers from going ahead with their orders.

Play on the fact that they want to pay for their items and have them delivered. And once they are smoothly directed through checkout, all they need is to enter a password.

Here is an example of what the simple and non compulsory registration experience looks like. This principle applies both to B2C and B2B:

What do best performers do?

FEATURE Best Performers Worst Performers
Customer Profile Required 0% 68.6%
Shipping same as Billing 100% 43.8%
  • Best performers remove friction and make it easy, simple and fast for their customers to checkout
  • NONE of the top performers require a customer profile.
  • ALL of best performers allow customers to tick a box and not retype their address twice if the shipping and billing addresses are the same.

Remove friction to provide the best experience for online shoppers to checkout smoothly

The faster, the more simple and the most transparent checkout, the better.

Remember, with only 3 out 10 visitors completing checkout on average, each additional checkout completion increases your bottom line by 1 divided by 3  i.e. 33%.

Hope you’ll smash it and be among the best performers next quarter!

Everyone is doing it!

Over 25,000 Magento 1 stores and 500 Magento 2 stores are reducing cart abandonment simply by adding our extension.

Magento 2 stores

CLICK HERE to check out our 25 examples of Magento 2 stores.

We tried to cover as many markets as possible.

Play with our Demos

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Source and References:

Thien-Lan WeberAbout Thien-Lan Weber

Thien-Lan is the Chief Marketing Officer at OneStepCheckout. She's a Marketing expert with 20 years experience across Europe and Asia Pacific including Accenture, Clarins, Johnson & Johnson, eBay and PayPal.

Thien-Lan loves connecting people and helping retailers get the most out of eCommerce. As such, she recently joined the board of ExtDN (Extension Developer Network).

She grew up in Paris, holds a Master of Science in Management from HEC Paris and is back to France after 16 years living in different parts of the worlds, the latest destination being Oslo where she joined OneStepCheckout.