Should the 97% Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate on Mobile Devices Concern You?


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The average shopping cart abandonment rate is 72% across all devices*. But mobile devices (excluding digital downloads), have an astounding 97% abandonment rate*. Recently, several people have asked me about the difference and whether or not they should be considering separate mobile device strategies.

My short answer is ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ because there are really two answers.

Before I explain, let’s take a quick look at why customers abandon shopping carts in the first place and what makes the mobile experience so different. Then we can explore specific techniques for improving the mobile shopping experience.

Why visitors abandon mobile shopping carts

The main reasons customers put items into shopping carts but then don’t complete their purchases are:

There is a price objection, in particular the cost of shipping and handling, but also the desire to look for a promo code or better deal somewhere else.

They are not ready to buy but are putting items in a shopping cart so that they can easily find them when they are ready.

While both of these apply to mobile devices as well, there are three additional factors you need to consider to better understand mobile’s inflated abandonment rate:

1. Device purpose

Consumers that own a PC, tablet and smart phone, use each device for different things. Take a look at this infographic from the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) — not only does it show you how each device is used at different times of the day, but also for different purposes:

Desktop: The primary purchasing device; safe, secure and stores my information.

Smartphone: Getting up-to-date information on the move; keeping in touch and socializing

Tablet: Browsing and entertainment

Of course, generalizations are always dangerous and it would be wrong to say that there are no purchases made on smart phones: mobile ecommerce is growing very fast, but from a small base. When it comes to ecommerce on mobile devices, tablets dominate, and overall mobile transactions are 10% of all ecommerce purchases.

This IAB infographic gives more detail on how one mobile shopper uses the different devices. Standout data points here include:

– 47% of mobile purchases are made at home, probably the majority on a tablet.

– 22% were driven by an ad or email where the product selection process has been made simpler and there’s no extensive researching involved.

This is often driven by retargeting using advertising or email, and leveraging a customer’s past browsing history.

Device Usability

The main reason tablets are used for purchases over smart phones is simple: the screens are larger. Larger fingers don’t mesh well with small touch screen keyboards, as we all know only too well from our own experiences entering passwords.

However, there are practical optimization techniques you can use to make it easier to enter data on mobile devices. For starters, understanding where a customer’s attention goes on mobile devices can help predict better call to action button placement. Looking at this EyeTrackShop graphic, we can see that while each device is slightly different, there is a consistent focus on the top left hand corner.

Don’t forget that devices are used for different purposes and you must factor this into your mobile optimization efforts. For example, if customers are focused on finding store opening hours and locations on their mobiles, then make this information really prominent.

And, if customers are adding items into their mobile carts there’s a good chance they’re saving that purchase for later. So it makes sense to send them a mobile optimized email reminder, with a link back to their cart, that they can use to purchase once back at their PC.

3. Payments

Mobile payments are a problem, and a significant contributor to the 97% abandonment rate. Creating an account, including shipping and billing addresses, entering all of your payment details and getting it all right first time is far too difficult on a mobile device.

The payment industry is working to address this problem and although there are many contenders for the mobile payments crown, there are few established mobile payment schemes currently. In the meantime, the only mayor in town is PayPal.

PayPal is a widely adopted payment source with a dedicated login button called Paypal Access that gates all of a customer’s necessary online purchase information behind a quick email and password login. Check it out if you’re looking for a quick solution to smooth out the checkout process for new customers.

For existing customers, if you store credit card information with customer account details (like and then focus on making the login process as easy as possible.

If neither option currently works for you, I suggest you don’t waste your time trying to optimize the mobile purchase process until there are better payment options available.


So, let’s go back to the original question: ‘Should you be considering separate mobile device strategies?’

YES: It’s important to have a strategy that at least recognizes that customers aren’t buying on smartphones because their needs when away from their home or office are different. Remember that what will help the most is mobile site optimization focusing on getting key information quickly, such as store locations, prices.

Recognize also that adding an item to a shopping cart is a step toward the purchase process — a signal of intent (so make it easy to do on all devices). And following up with email remarketing will ensure you get the sale, although through a different device. Also, be sure to tailor your email marketing service to trigger a relevant campaign when an abandon happens on a mobile device.

NO: Simply recognizing the reasons that customers aren’t yet ready to buy through mobile devices, difficulty and inconvenience, is enough. Instead of wasting time trying to make the mobile checkout process easier now, wait until mobile payments are expanded.

If you would like to learn more, please join me in partnership with Digital Marketing Company Mediative for the live event, Mobile Abandonment: Getting the Sale, on Thursday, October 18th. We will be discussing how to optimize the mobile shopping experience end to end, and ultimately how to get the sale.

This original version of this blog was written for Media Post as: Shopping Cart Abandonment on Mobile.

*Source: SeeWhy Conversion Academy

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Charles Nicholls
Charles Nicholls is a social commerce expert and board advisor to several e-commerce startups. He founded SeeWhy, a real-time personalization and machine learning platform, which was sold to SAP. Serving as SVP of product, he built SAP Upscale Commerce, an e-commerce platform for direct-to-consumer brands and the mid-market. Today, Charles serves as chief strategy officer for SimplicityDX, a commerce experience company. He has worked on strategy and projects for leading ecommerce companies worldwide, including Amazon, eBay, Google and many others.


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