Feb 3, 2016

Reduce Cart Abandonment by 70% with Google Analytics

Ashley Ford
Feb 3rd, 2016 - 6 mins read

Shopping cart abandonment is a common problem amongst ecommerce sites. A Comscore study found that 61% of customers are likely to cancel their completed order if shipping isn’t free. Unfortunately the big players like Amazon and BestBuy have raised consumer expectation by offering free shipping on a variety items. So lets take a look at the top three reasons and then delve in to how we can track cart abandonment using Google Analytics.


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Unexpected cost

The top reason for not completing an order is unexpected costs cropping in at the checkout stage. These are usually down to shipping and state taxes if you live in the US.

Offering free shipping can be 2x more effective at converting customers than offering a percentage off at the checkout. So try free shipping at peak times for a day or the week running up to Christmas. In the past offering free shipping for the 5 days before Christmas (16th – 21st) have contributed to an additional 16% spend, what also helped sales was the promise that items would be delivered in time for Christmas.

If free shipping isn’t working for you, try adding a shipping calculator option on the product page, to be clear and transparent about additional costs.


I was just browsing…

The second top reason for not completing a purchase. Less than 1% of new visitors will complete a purchase on their first visit, and many users will use the cart to create a wishlist of items, to come back and purchase at a later date.


To overcome this;

  1. Communicate with your customer, try re-targeting on the product page they spent the majority of their time on.
  2. Incentivise customers with limited time discounts, for example checkout in the next 5mins and unlock 10% off.
  3. If an existing user has added an item to their cart or wishlist and the item goes on sale, email them and let them know it’s available at a reduced price.


I found the product cheaper elsewhere

The majority of us comparison shop. Shopping around until we get the best price. Competing with the big players is hard but not impossible. Options for fixing this are, offer price matching, by promoting that you’ll match qualified products at the best price. the second option is to set up a customer loyalty program, Amazon Prime is a classic example of this, offering 1 day delivery on certain items and free shipping this adds a huge cost benefit to the consumer. Try offering loyal existing customers discounts.


Tracking cart abandonment

Firstly we need to calculate what your current cart abandonment rate is. This can typically be calculated like this:

(Percentage) = [1 – (the total orders placed on the website / by total add to cart clicks)]

We’re going to set up a goal and funnel using google analytics, this will allow us to track completed purchases and identify where users are abandoning their carts.

Login to Google Analytics and click ‘Admin’ select ‘Goals’

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Create your goal

Now we’re going to create a new goal. Give your goal a name, and select the ‘type’ as ‘destination’ as we want to track a users journey through the checkout process.


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Setup your goal parameters

The next part of the process involves us setting up the checkout process from cart to your thank you page. On this page you can optionally set a value for each conversion, GA will track this in the dashboard, this is good if you’re tracking PPC campaigns. But for this example we’ll leave the value set to ‘off’.

Toggle the ‘funnel’ option to ‘on’: This is important because we want to track a user through a set of pages, this will enable us to see exactly where users are dropping out of the checkout process, and give us the option to apply some of the fixes that I mentioned up the page.

Once you’re done click ‘save’


Wait for the data…

Over the next few days you should see people completing purchases and/or dropping out of the checkout process. To analyse the data in further detail switch over to the ‘reporting’ tab and click: conversions -> goals -> overview

Here you can see all the users that completed the goals that you’ve setup. You’ll notice that the overview page also includes your ‘total abandonment rate’ by drilling down into the data we can analyse the funnel for this goal.


If we click ‘funnel visualization’ we can see the customer journey through the funnel, this is useful to see which pages customer are leaving your checkout process to. For example as a company you might want to adjust your navigation to remove distractions from customers leaving this flow.



Here are the top ten tips to improve your checkout process and hopefully improve your sales.

  1. Don’t force your customers to signup to your site, it adds a barrier to get them across the line.
  2. Help users trust you by adding approved seals to your site. Norton, McAffe, TRUSTe, etc…
  3. Don’t clog up your checkout process with unnecessary form inputs that might make the life of your marketing department a little easier, this will most certainly have an effect on your sales.
  4. Slim down the navigation on cart, checkout, payment pages, and remove links that are likely to distract the user from completing a purchase.
  5. Add a chat widget. This will allow users to surface queries about delivery, returns, product types etc and will enable you to engage the user and hold their hand across the line.
  6. Use discount codes carefully, when presented with a discount code box, this is great if you already have one. But for the customer that doesn’t have a code, you’ll find them distracted and searching Google for one, at this point you could easily lose them, by either being completely distracted or finding the product cheaper elsewhere.
  7. Make it easy for customers to return an item. Adding a textbox on your checkout page with something like “Not happy with your purchase? You can bring it into any store for a refund” goes a long way to settling those last minute checkout nerves.
  8. Always confirm estimated shipping dates. Keeping your customers in the loop about delays or when they can expect their delivery is crucial in keeping your customers happy.
  9. Fix your page load times. a slow shop will leach you money.
  10. Reduce the amount of hidden costs at the checkout, try flat rate shipping or free shipping and promote this around your site so it’s not a nasty surprise at the checkout.



Ashley Ford
Feb 3rd, 2016 - 6 mins read