How Security and Aesthetics Prevent Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping Cart AbandonmentEcommerce site owners know the drill all too well. You get customers to click through to a landing page, place items in a shopping cart, and then they disappear. Shopping card abandonment is frustrating and discouraging; the “almost” sale is sometimes worse than the “didn’t sell at all.”

Why is it consumers abandon shopping carts? There are a many reasons, but four of the most popular include:

1. Unexpectedly high shipping costs.
2. No intention to buy (e.g. the consumer was using the card to simply add up costs of a purchase they’re considering down the road, or comparison shopping).
3. A lack of confidence in the financial transaction.
4. Difficulty or distraction during the purchase completion process.

Of those reasons, you can completely prevent the first and you have no control over the second. Number three and four are a bit more nebulous, and require you to do some online store optimization if you want to overcome them.

Advanced security measures lead to customer retention

Today’s customers are savvy. They understand that a secure website starts out with “https” rather than just “http”. Accordingly, here are some advanced security measures you can put in place that will help prevent shopping cart abandonment and increase buyer confidence:

SSL. Again, customers know to look for this and it will affect shopping cart abandonment.
Verification services. Both address verification (AVS) and CVV (also known as CCV or CVV2) verification led an added degree of security to the transaction process. CVV in particular guarantees that the person putting in the information has (or has had) access to the physical card being used.
PCI compliance. Whether you have a merchant account of your own and need to have PCI-compliant shopping cart software or whether you use a PCI-compliant gateway, this is the minimum level of security that the credit card companies require.

All of these help customers feel more confident in your site and reduce shopping cart abandonment. Consider creating a privacy and security page or pop-up message to keep visitors in their carts while they decide whether or not it’s safe to do business with you.

Visuals matter to shopping cart abandonment

Aesthetics are another one of those areas that can help or harm your customer experience. Here are a few aesthetic best practices that will help you to avoid shopping cart abandonment:

Use clear button labels. Phrases like “Add to Cart” are ones that your visitors see every day. They know what those phrases mean and how they work. There’s no need to be clever and reinvent the wheel by labeling your button “Put it in a Sack” or something else. Use what they know.
Keep your pages consistent. This can be hard if you’re using a different shopping cart package than what you’re using for content management. For a seamless experience, your customers need all of those thematic elements to match whether they’re ordering or not.
Use large, obvious action mechanisms. If you want a user to click a button, make sure they can see it. If you want them to click a link, do the same. Get rid of button-like images on your pages, and don’t use any underlining except those links where you actually want the user to go.

The success of your business depends on reducing shopping cart abandonment. Devote some time to security and aesthetics and you’ll see your conversion rates climb.

What are you doing to reduce shopping cart abandonment on your ecommerce site?


David Rodwell is a seasoned writer in business and economics, specializing in credit card processing You can find more of his articles located at CreditCardProcessing[dot]net.


  1. From my own experience, it is more about trust. I start the purchase process, but somewhere along the line, I sense mistrust then choose to delay until I get feedback from my network.

  2. hi david nice write up normally what happen with me i use to go to any website and if i found something great before paying i think about it twice what if i am able to get this thing from local market in cheap price and ya some time bank problem occurs like they dont accept matreo card and all so i have to leave the product into cart

  3. On my experience high shipping cost is the main reason of cart abandonment. Who would want a product that’s almost half of it’s price is it’s shipping cost anyway.

  4. I am still shocked at how often I come across complicated shopping carts that are bound to put off all but the most persistent customer. Buying something should be the easiest, straightforward thing to do or people will give up and will definitely be distracted.

  5. David Rodwell

    Lucy, you’re spot on. So many people get put off by shipping that they don’t finish the transaction. My advice to sellers is to charge no more than necessary for shipping. Sure it takes some of your time to go down to the post office/UPS/FedEx, but shoppers know when they’re being nickel and dimed and act accordingly. I also suggest that they present shipping estimates next to items before they’re added to the shopping cart, as it displays some transparency and the shopper isn’t caught in any surprises.

  6. Hi, I was researching articles on shopping cart abandonment and came across yours. You make very valid points -most customers are hesitant to shop online thanks to poorly described security wordings. High shipping is another reason as Lucy pointed out and I find that often on sites like Amazon and especially shopping from the US when I’m based in Canada.

  7. Danny

    The points you name make sense.
    What about digital products, do they have less shopping cart abandonment?

    I think using a trusted paying gateway like paypal makes the abandonment less.

    One thing we should be happy about is if somebody abandons their shopping cart we don’t have to go and place all the products back 😉

  8. Sometimes I abandon a shopping cart and the reason is always the following: No intention to buy. I’m interested in various different items, but I’m not just ready to buy. I just want to know what the total cost + shipping will be (for a potential later buy).

  9. A very skillfully written article on a very different subject, Shipping charges are the big reason for shopping cart abandonment specially in 3rd world countries.

  10. Nothing is really more disappointing than having a shopping cart abandoned just as a client was making a purchase. You should also look for a very reliable host because sudden connection crashes or server crashes will severely impact your e-business. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  11. All of those points can happen.

    The shipping cost or the fact the coupon doesn’t work, I will just leave. That is what gets me sometimes.

    It has to be designed to the highest quality in order to actually get those sales to fall through :)

  12. Hi,
    shopping cart are really delicate, Shopping carts are difficult to handle and some times it could be really difficult to handle the CRM or dashboard of Shopping carts.

    Thank you

  13. Very helpful post. I have designed and now use my own shopping cart system for my site, and while I find it really is a great way to get just exactly what you want, it comes with a lot of responsibility and quite a lot of stress. I often stress over the thought of checkout abandonment so I’ll definitely be saving this post for the future. It’s interesting to see the impact the right visuals have. Thanks, Aden.