Cart abandonment isn't a huge issue in brick-and-mortar stores. If a shopper has gone through the trouble of traveling to a retail location, selecting items, placing them in his or her shopping cart and then heading to the checkout, it's unlikely he or she will negate all that work by walking out of the store without making a single purchase. Yet, cart abandonment is a serious concern among e-commerce retailers. According to, desktop cart abandonment rates have reached 61 percent. Mobile rates were even higher, with tablets at 71 percent and smartphones at 81 percent.

A report by Business Insider said total shopping cart abandonment rates were increasing, from 69 percent in 2011 to 72 percent in 2012 and 74 percent in 2013. In order to stay afloat in the online market, businesses need to understand why consumers aren't completing purchases.

Why are customers abandoning shopping carts?
There are numerous reasons why a shopper will go through the process of adding an item to their cart but then decide not to purchase it. First, however, it's important to understand that shoppers generally want to buy something and they aren't adding things to the cart for no reason. Even still, they're convinced to leave a sale incomplete.

Sometimes, users aren't ready to buy now, but will be later. Often, shoppers will use the cart for research, either to see how expensive shipping is or how long it would take to receive their order. Some consumers don't want to wait for shipping and instead found the item they wanted in a local store. Others don't mind the wait but were deterred by shipping costs. 

If you're concerned by the number of abandoned carts your store sees, there are several steps you can take.

Convey shipping time and fees before checkout
Giants like Amazon and Walmart have conditioned online shoppers to see free shipping as the norm, VWO pointed out. Unfortunately, high shipping fees prohibit smaller retailers and those doing business internationally to provide the service for free every day. Instead, they can designate special days for free shipping or encourage larger sales by offering reduced rates at a certain order minimum. Businesses can also provide free shipping for paid members, like Amazon does with its Prime service.

According to Web Strategies, an e-commerce sales and marketing company, it's best to provide shipping information prior to asking a customer for online payments. Many online stores let customers input their ZIP code to see shipping estimates before clicking the checkout button. Others take the idea a step further, showing average delivery times and fees on the product page.

Avoid mandatory registration
Customers want check out to be as simple as possible and are resistant to create an account during the process. Others fear registration means a slew of unwanted emails in their inbox every morning. Regardless of the reason, it's best that e-commerce stores provide a guest option for nonmembers. Companies can request shoppers sign up once their order is complete.

Assure your customers
Identity theft is a major concern among Internet shoppers. People are reluctant to buy from your store if they feel their credit or debit card transactions aren't secure. Companies should speak with their Web developers to be sure customer payment information is encrypted and can't be intercepted by a third party. VWO suggested displaying seals from recognizable entities such as BBB, Norton and TRUSTe.

Shoppers might have last-minute concerns about your returns or privacy policy. If they're not fully committed to their purchase, they may be wary to complete it without knowing how your business handles returns. Likewise, shoppers aren't willing to supply their personal information if they're not certain how you'll use it. Businesses should provide a link to their privacy policy and return policy on each page of checkout.

Show progress
A good e-commerce website lets shoppers know where they are in the checkout process and how many steps are left. For instance, step one may be to sign in, step two is for billing and shipping information, step three is for users to review their order, and step four is a confirmation page. Indicating the number of steps involved prevents checking out from becoming a seemingly never-ending experience.

Use coupons strategically
Coupons are great incentive for purchases, but providing an input box for codes encourages shoppers to head to their nearest search engine or coupon site to find a deal. Any time a consumer leaves your site, there's a chance they'll get distracted and never return. Instead of a box, use a hyperlink to open a new window or list applicable codes during the checkout process.

Provide diverse payment options
According to Monetate, having a variety of payment options goes a long way to reducing cart abandonment. E-commerce retailers working with a payment processing company should choose one that provides several solutions such as direct debit and other electronic payments.

Brought to you by PacNet Services, your one-stop global payment processing solution.