Shopping Cart Abandonment And Another E-commerce Website Metric You Should Be Aware Of

December 29th, 2008 (49,181 views) by Pinny Cohen

If you run an e-commerce website then you likely are tracking metrics such as: total sales revenue, how many total purchases were made, and general visitor stats. Today, we’ll look at a few other metrics you can (and should) use in order to get your e-commerce website performing at its best.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate

Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate

DefinitionDefinition: The percentage of shoppers who place an item in their shopping cart but do not successfully complete checkout.


  • Anxiety over having chosen the right product
  • Fear over the security of giving out credit card details
  • Confusion about how to checkout
  • Anxiety over not having found the best deal
  • Website error
  • Shopper didn’t have or like the payment options

The chart below offers a glimpse into reasons for shopping cart abandonment.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Good Practices:

  • Include thumbnail product images in the checkout pages to make shopper confident he added the product he actually wanted to buy.
  • Put third party secure site seals (such as Thawte, Verisign, or McafeeSecure ) to lower shopper resistance to providing credit card details
  • Make as short of a checkout as possible, and if you need several pages, be sure to show visitors what step of the checkout they are on, and how many more are left. This will serve the double purpose of being less confusing and shortening the time to purchase (and avoiding “buyer’s remorse“).
  • Show a price-match guarantee or a low-price policy at checkout to make the shopper feel confident he is paying a low price for the item.
  • Have your programmer create a way for you to know when checkout was started but not completed, and save the info (in case the shopper returns).
  • Include as many payment options as possible to raise the comfort level of the shopper, as well as not to exclude anyone from being able to buy.
  • Don’t force a shopper to login or register in order to checkout, make it optional (and obvious). Forced registration at checkout lowers trust, raises frustration, and steals time from the customer.

Percentage Of Products Sold At Least Once

Revenue By Product Type

DefinitionDefinition: The percentage of your product line that is sold at least once over an examined time period.

Most savvy web marketers keep up to date on what is the best selling product in their web store, but few go a step further to find out the percentage of products sold at least once in a given month, half year, or year.

To find out this figure for your online store, follow these steps:

  1. Download a report of all your sales grouped by product sold.
  2. Count how many different items were sold. For example, if you sold 2 red apples and 1 green apple, you sold 2 different types of apples (red and green).
  3. Calculate how many unique products you have in your e-commerce shop that can be purchased.
  4. Divide your answer in step 2 by your answer in step 3 and multiply that by 100.

Did that sound complicated? To save you some time, I’ve already gone ahead and created a simple Excel calculator for working out the percentage, but you’ll still need to check your own inventory to know which products have and have not been sold in a given time period.

Excel FileDownload this calculator

This is a very important metric that few people check for several reasons. If your e-commerce store is confusing to shoppers and your store doesn’t have useful search filters to bring shoppers to deeper areas in the site, then you will likely have a very low answer after step 4. You can be confident that your store is doing well if you are selling at least 30% of your total product line in a given month, and 85% in a given year. Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, routinely discovered that leading websites sold up to 98% of their products at least once in a quarter.

Good Practices:

  • Lure shoppers away from the bestsellers by showing them the newest products, suggesting complementary items (such as socks to go with a belt), and randomly rotated products throughout their shopping experience.
  • Provide multiple filters and search options to help shoppers “drill down” to reach obscure items. See an example below, how a rug store accomplishes this:

    E-commerce Search Filters

  • Add a social aspect to the shopping cart, such as we did recently with a recent client’s site, pictured below. As you can see, (1) the store allows you to make a wish list, and add a gift registry item, (2) tell a friend about a product or read other shoppers’ product reviews, and (3) the e-commerce store recognizes what previous shoppers have bought, and suggests it to other shoppers.

Social Shopping Cart

The more niche the product line offered by an e-commerce store is (such as a watches only store), the more difficulty a shopper will have in finding long tail products, since the keywords he might search are likely to describe virtually the whole inventory. The social shopping features will gently guide and suggest deep products, solving this problem to some degree. This means the social aspect I described above is one of the most important features on a niche e-commerce store.

By keeping an eye on these two stats for your e-commerce business, you’ll be able to feel confident in your site’s ability to convert visitors to shoppers and to show the full range of products to your visitors to maximize sales.

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6 Responses to “Shopping Cart Abandonment And Another E-commerce Website Metric You Should Be Aware Of”

  1. ReddyK - The Atma Jyoti Blog Says:

    Pinny, I hope this article gets wide circulation among ecommerce providers, as all the points in it are spot-on. If the points you mention are followed, the consumer’s experience is bound to be more pleasant.

  2. Bloggers Digest 1/9/09 | Get Elastic Says:

    [...] Cohen provides a useful calculator (Excel) that helps you compute a lesser-used but useful metric: Percentage Of Products Sold At Least Once. Or [...]

  3. liz Says:

    I have abandoned tons of carts for two main reasons:

    - forcing me to setup an account before showing me the shipping cost. Just show me the total cost before making me complete pages of info.

    - not offering paypal or google checkout. I do not want to give credit card info to unknown websites.

  4. MixedRealities :: Metanomics goes wild about (virtual?) business metrics Says:

    [...] SOME IMPORTANT METRICS ARE NEGATIVE Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate [...]

  5. 30 (New) SEO Terms You Have to Know in 2011 | SEOptimise Says:

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