Improve Your Add-to-Cart Rate and Reverse Abandoned Carts In Time for End Of Year Sales

Cici Nguyen
Jun 7, 2024
3 min read

As we reach the final quarter of the year and 2021 begins to wrap up, the most favorable period for eCommerce merchants comes knocking at our doors - end-of-year sales!

In 2020, retail spending between November and December in the US reached $789.4 billion, with 60% of shoppers making these purchases online. As sales are forecasted to surpass that of last year’s golden period - particularly for fashion, health & beauty, and toys & games - one of the top questions on e-retailers’ minds is, how can we get consumers filling their shopping carts with our products

Forecast retail spending winter 2021

Many sectors are expected to see significant growth in sales over the festive period this year. (Source: Retail Week)

There is also a pesky problem online stores face during this time of year - abandoned carts.

To tackle these head-ons, we’re going to explore ways to take a closer look at add-to-cart rates and abandoned carts so you are well prepared for this fruitful time of year.

All You Need to Know About Add-to-Cart Rate

After conquering the first hurdle of getting people onto your site, the next area of focus is getting a good number of those visitors to put your products into their shopping baskets. The metric used to measure the number of shoppers performing this action is called the add-to-cart rate.

Add-to-cart rate is the percentage of unique visits to a website that involve a click on the add-to-cart or add-to-basket buttons. The average add-to-cart rate is 5.3%, however, during peak seasons it can shoot above 7%.

average add to cart rate

Holiday and sales seasons see average add-to-cart rates go beyond the norm. (Source: Dynamic Yield)

This of course varies by industry, with some greatly outperforming others during the last few months of the year. Let’s take a look at how different industries performed in November and December of last year.

add to cart rate by industry

(Source: Marketing Dynamic Yield)

Using these as benchmarks, you can now know what to expect for your add-to-cart rates for end-of-year sales.

What Causes Shoppers to Abandon their Cart?

Whilst it’s great to have shoppers showing an intent to buy from your store, all too often eCommerce merchants find that visitors are abandoning their baskets.

The global cart abandonment rate is around 70%, and when end of year sales come around this figure increases. One study revealed that the cart abandonment rate during Black Friday 2020 increased to 77.79% and Cyber Monday’s skyrocketed to 80.69%. So, why does this happen so frequently?

During the holiday season, shoppers are inundated with offers and deals from a number of retailers. This means that consumers are more likely to shop around, looking out for the best deals before they commit to a purchase. In fact, 58.6% of US online shoppers have abandoned a cart because they were just browsing or not ready to buy yet.

Also, a poor shopping experience can contribute to a customer not completing their purchase.

A prominent frustration consumers have is with the checkout process itself. Re-entering information that should have already been saved, such as name or address details, is the biggest problem for 34% of desktop shoppers and 31% of mobile shoppers. 18% of carts were abandoned simply because the checkout process took too long. This is more pronounced among shoppers using a smartphone - half of them gave up on their basket for this reason.

High or unexpected shipping costs also seem to be a major factor with one study finding 58% of respondents abandoning their cart for this reason.

Now that you are armed with some background knowledge on all things shopping carts, it’s time to take a look at different techniques you can employ to enhance your add-to-cart rate and scale back abandoned carts.

Top Tips to Improve Add-to-Cart Rate

Provide information in the best way

In addition to seeing your great products, consumers also want to be able to easily get enough information about the products, services, and your business in general before they make a decision.

Databox and BigCommerce say that the following information should be clearly provided to be in with a chance of having a shopper add your goods to their cart:

  • The look of the product: It goes without question that high-quality visuals of products should be included on product pages. Other key information concerning the look of the item - like length, width, or texture - could go a long way in securing confidence from shoppers. You could also consider incorporating video on your product pages to really showcase how they look.
red dress boutique product information | abandoned cart best practices

Red Dress Boutique alleviates the uncertainty consumers may have when buying clothes online by providing comprehensive information about the length, fabric, and how it fits on the body as well as a size chart.

  • Compelling descriptions: In addition to giving practical information on products, the description itself must captivate visitors to your site. Be sure to communicate your value proposition here - like free shipping or satisfaction guarantee - so customers know exactly why this product is a great choice for them.some text
  • FAQs: The inclusion of FAQs on a product page has been proven to increase add-to-cart rates, as Electric Enjin found. If major customer queries are answered in plain sight whilst looking into a product, there’s less reason for them not to press that add-to-cart button.
  • Reviews and testimonials: Authentic reviews are essential in generating trust and confidence during the shopping decision-making process. Apps like Loox and Okendo can be added to your Shopify store so you can effortlessly include user reviews on your product pages. some text
  • Live chat: Customers will have different queries dependent on their unique situation. Thus, you may find that not all information can be given in the FAQs section. Allowing consumers to have real-time conversations with a sales rep or chatbot can go a long way in helping you overcome this.

Optimize the add-to-cart button and the cart itself

The add-to-cart button should be highly visible and recognizable. It is recommended to place this button above the fold so that consumers can see it without scrolling down the page. For customers who have taken the time to read through your product description, it would also come in handy to include an additional add-to-cart button underneath that.

An alternative option is to have a sticky add-to-cart icon or bar so that it is always visible no matter where on the page a shopper is. Additionally, don’t limit this button to appearing only once a customer has clicked onto a product, display it on category pages as well, right next to the product image.

sticky add to cart button

With the help of a Shopify app shoppers can always click on the brightly colored CTA even whilst reading up on product information. (Source: Nurture Bed)

You should also make it as eye-catching as possible. Try to use a large-sized button in a color that will stand out on the page. If you opt for iconography for this CTA, be sure to use one that is unmistakable like a shopping bag or shopping cart.

Finally, make sure that hitting add-to-cart does not automatically cause shoppers to land on the cart page - this could cause major friction. Instead, allow them to add items as they go along without interruption, displaying the cart status in the corner or as a sticky bar.

Optimize for mobile

Did you know that 61% of retail traffic comes from mobile devices? That’s a hefty number, so if your goal is to increase your site’s add-to-cart rate, making considerations for mobile is a must.

The expectations of smartphone and tablet users are huge. If a mobile site does not load within 3 seconds 53% of visitors will leave. Furthermore, there appears to be a link between add-to-cart rate and the speed of a site. eBay experienced a 0.5% increase in “Add to Cart” count for every 100 milliseconds improvement in search page loading time. Optimizing your mobile site for speed will, therefore, work wonders for your add-to-cart rate.

Find out more about page speed optimization:5 Tips to optimize page speed for Shopify stores

Also, as the screen size becomes much smaller on mobile devices, eCommerce merchants need to think about prioritization and user-friendliness. If you want to increase the likelihood of a mobile user adding something to their cart, great mobile navigation is vital. Ensure the most popular product pages of your site are easily accessible and visible on the top bar of your mobile site. The add-to-cart button here will work best as an icon in order to save valuable screen space.

add to cart icon on mobile design

4-In-1 Sticky Add to Cart lets Shopify stores include add-to-cart icons on their mobile site.

Top Tips to Lower and Recover Abandoned Carts

Now that you’ve done what it takes to get your items in shoppers’ baskets, let’s take a look at how to make sure these products are purchased rather than left sitting in the cart.

Be transparent

Unexpected shipping costs is one of the top reasons for cart abandonment. As a result, being candid with consumers in this regard is a great way to ensure they see their purchases through. Making shipping information and return policies apparent no more than two screens away from when customers get to the cart until they complete the purchase is the way forward, as Nishat Jones from Victory Packaging told Forbes.

Optimize checkout flow

A complicated checkout process is a major pain point for consumers. Therefore, keeping the checkout steps to a minimum, saving information where possible, and generally making the checkout a simple action can increase your store’s conversion rate by 35.26%.

You can find out more about optimizing the checkout flow here: 4 Hacks to Reduce Checkout Abandonment and Boost Sales

Master the abandoned cart email

According to Omnisend, in 2020, one of every three consumers who clicked on a cart abandonment email completed their purchase. This shows the true value and continued relevance of abandoned cart emails. Still, if you want to see these results, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to create the optimal message.

One thing all shoppers love is a discount. In fact, 48% of consumers said discounts will motivate them to return to an abandoned cart. Hence, it’s worthwhile to include some form of money off to draw your customers back to their cart. Applying a sense of urgency to the discount could also amplify this effect.

Birchbox abandoned cart best practices with email discount reviews

Birchbox makes a great attempt to seal the deal for customers in this email, offering a personalized discount whilst adding a sense of urgency. Inviting shoppers to check out reviews also hits the nail on the head when it comes to battling indecision. (Source: Sleek Note)

Another great hack is to adapt the messaging of the abandoned cart email based on the value of the customer’s basket.

For baskets that have high-priced items, you need to provide these shoppers with assurance as the risk is greater for them. So, reinforce in the body of the email things like exceptional quality, satisfaction guarantees and even offer free returns so they can shed their worries.

Lower-priced baskets, on the other hand, should have a different approach. If your store offers free shipping, consider including relevant product recommendations that will help them reach the free delivery threshold. After all, 58% of shoppers will increase the size of their order to qualify for free shipping!

You can also employ different tactics depending on whether the abandoned cart belongs to a new visitor or a returning customer.

First time would-be purchasers don’t know your business in-and-out yet, so emphasize your stellar customer service or any other offerings that set you apart from the competition. Let your returning customers know how much you value them by giving loyalty points and exclusive offers made for them.

Shopify merchants can automate many of these actions by installing Omnisend.

Try other types of notifications

Even though emails are great for recovering abandoned carts, it’s always useful for e-merchants to stay ahead of the curve by trying out newer techniques. Web push notifications and SMS messaging are two emerging tools for cart recovery.

Despite being relatively new, web push notifications have already shown themselves to be well-equipped at encouraging consumers to complete their purchases. Black Halo made use of web push notifications as part of their strategy to get customers to return to their carts and was able to earn $48 per notification sent.

Want to add this to your abandoned cart messaging? Then look no further as PushOwl allows Shopify merchants to create custom abandoned cart push notifications to send out to their visitors.

Bokksu abandon cart web push notification

The friendly, human-like tone Bokksu was able to incorporate in their web push notifications for abandoned carts resulted in an 8% CTR. (Source: PushOwl)

SMS is also becoming popular thanks to the comparatively quicker amount of time it takes for consumers to check texts over emails. This was fruitful for Kerrits as they experienced an uplift in conversions to 15%, and an earnings-per-message of nearly $3. This too is possible for Shopify stores thanks to Omnisend.

Optimize for mobile

Last but not least, it’s time to make things as smooth as possible for your mobile customers. According to Retail Dive, during holidays such as BFCM, mobile payment systems should be both glitch-free and quick to use to drive these shoppers to make a purchase. As the majority of mobile customers abandon their basket due to a lengthy checkout, brands are introducing one or two-step checkouts ahead of the holidays to accommodate these time-restricted shoppers.

There are a number of Shopify apps and extensions, including Shopify One Step Checkout, that will shorten the checkout steps for mobile users.

Ready For Year-End Sales?

End-of-year holidays should see shoppers coming in droves to online retail stores, thus it’s beneficial to prepare your stores in a surefire way to drive sales.

As consumers are much more likely to browse at this time of year, getting your products in their carts as well as motivating them to push through with a purchase will be a challenge. However, with these top tips you can edge even closer to making this golden period your most lucrative.

Cici Nguyen
Email Marketing Specialist
June 25, 2024
5 min read