Having a customer abandon their cart during checkout is like running a marathon, but spraining your ankle a few yards before the finish line. PYMNTS recently released a report on cart abandonments, and I think retailers should pay close attention to the numbers.

Millennials are the generation that shops online the most and has abandoned more carts recently than other generations. Millennials abandoned 8 times more carts in the last 30 days than boomers. Gen Z isn’t very far behind. It appears that older customers are much less likely to abandon their carts.

It is clear that each generation behaves differently when shopping online. Retailers that do not address cart abandon rates are leaving money on the table. This issue will be more and more important as Gen Z and millennials gain more purchasing power.

Now, let’s see why customers are leaving before completing the purchase and what can be done to lower cart abandon rates.

High Hidden Costs and Fees

I bet you’ve been there: you add an inexpensive item to your cart, go to checkout, and find out that shipping is as expensive as the item itself. For that reason, you decide not to continue with the purchase and leave the website.

The main reason people abandon their carts during checkout is the hidden fees. Making the customer go through a lengthy process and type their shipping info before they can see shipping costs is rarely a good idea.

Some companies also include processing fees, administrative fees, or other “because-we-can” fees to the final price (Looking at you, Ticketmaster), that customers don’t see until they are ready to pay. While some customers may think, “Oh well, I’ve already invested time into this, I can afford a few extra dollars,” drip pricing strategies make for a very frustrating shopping experience.

Having a clear shipping policy and displaying these costs directly in the cart or even in the top bar can help decrease the checkout abandonment rate. Even better, if you offer free shipping (either unconditional or under certain conditions), make it obvious! Not every company can get away with hidden fees, and most businesses should clearly disclose them. Regulators are also paying close attention to these practices, for example, with Choice Hotel International (https://fmaingret.com/2023/09/choice-hotel-internationals-drip-pricing-controversy-the-strategy-we-all-love-to-hate/)

Unnecessarily Complicated Checkout Process

In general, you want to make it as easy as possible for customers to give you their money. Yet, some companies still design infuriating, convoluted checkout processes. They ask for the basics—your email address and delivery address. But then, they also ask for your phone number, how you found out about them, which color your socks are, and tons of unnecessary information.

Sure, collecting data can be useful, but these very lengthy forms can make customers run away. Even worse, some companies ask you to create an account and click on a link you receive in your email to validate it. This is the second reason why people abandon their carts.

Checking out should be as easy as possible, and customers should not feel like you are invading their privacy. If you really want to collect more data or make them create an account for email marketing, make it optional and give them something valuable in exchange, such as free shipping.

The Website and/or Brand isn’t Trustworthy

I remember the early days of Ecommerce when the idea of purchasing items over the internet seemed a little crazy. Can I trust this company with my credit card info? What if they ship the wrong product? What if they keep my money, but I never receive my stuff?

These questions are still valid today, which is why many customers prefer shopping on large marketplaces over brands’ websites. Websites should be well-designed, not include too many intrusive ads, and appear as trustworthy as possible. Obviously, this works better for larger brands that are well-recognized. Small brands should not neglect their “About us” page, should display an address and phone number, and gain credibility through testimonials and social media.

Lack of Payment Options

According to recent Worldpay and Top 1000 reports, the proportion of customers who prefer using digital wallets is expected to increase from 36% to 47% this year. However, only 72.5% of the top 1000 retailers offer PayPal as a payment method. Worse, 12.7% and 11.6% of them offer Amazon Pay and Apple Pay. Some of them are missing out on a lot of extra revenue due to the limited payment options they offer. While offering every payment method that exists is unnecessary, it is important that retailers pay attention to what their customers want. Make sure you offer the payment options your customers need so you don’t miss out.

Ecommerce started with mostly debit and credit cards as the only payment methods available to customers. With time and changing customer preferences, online retailers started to offer alternative payment options. Customers still prefer using their debit/credit cards, but there is a greater demand for digital wallets like PayPal or Google Pay.

Inconsistent Pricing Policies and FOMO on a Good Deal

Many times, online retailers will ask their customers if they have a discount code during the checkout process. Customers with a coupon code will be more likely to purchase, and using coupon codes makes it easier to design advertising campaigns.

The problem is when the customer does not have a coupon. If they can’t find one easily, they may get frustrated and leave without completing their purchase (thinking they are not getting the best deal) or search for a code on Google, not find one, and give up. Customers should not be distracted during the checkout process unless you ensure most customers can easily find a coupon code that applies to their purchase.

Flash sales are a proven marketing tactic, except when customers don’t know what to expect from retailers. This is one of the reasons why the retailer Zulily went out of business recently. Retailers should have a coherent pricing and promotion policy.


Getting the customer to visit your website and add items to their cart is already a lot of work; you don’t want to sabotage yourself by not paying attention to your cart abandonment rates.

Younger generations love browsing and are more likely to abandon their carts. They also have a limited attention span. That is why brands should pay close attention to their customer experience.

A well-designed checkout process, clear shipping and pricing policies, and trustworthy websites will make a big difference in your checkout abandonment rate and, as a result, on the bottom line.