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There’s More To eCommerce Than Your Conversion Rate!

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We’ve heard it time and time again, “conversion rate is not the end all be all success measurement for your website” – we even wrote an ebook on the topic! So why is the digital profession so obsessed with it? It is because it’s already measured and plotted for us in analytics? Are we really too lazy to analyze all of the data that’s available to paint a complete picture? Yes, obviously if we find a way to increase conversions through our existing traffic we will make more sales – at no extra cost. But ask yourself; do you really think every visitor that comes to your site is actually your target market? Likely not. Therefore, instead of concentrating on ways to increase your beloved conversion rate, we’re going to expand your horizons and think in a cart abandonment mind frame.

cart abandonment

Abandonment rates are increasing as more and more consumers shift to online shopping. BI Intelligence has estimated a whopping $4 trillion of merchandise was abandoned with 63% of that being labeled as potentially recoverable. Excited yet? Good.

Related: Why Conversion is a Bad Metric (In Isolation)

Moving Past Conversion Rate: Why Does Cart Abandonment Happen?

Before we get into calculation details on cart abandonment, let’s shine some light on the top reasons why people abandon their virtual carts – because trust me, you’re going to want some reasoning behind why you’ll be calculating such high percentages!



It’s the number one reason why carts are abandoned. Think, how transparent is your site regarding additional costs? Do you add on shipping during checkout? Likely – because lets face it, not every business model can offer free shipping or free shipping thresholds. It’s quite evident that the longer we hide any additional cost from our consumers, the greater the risk they become to abandon during checkout. An important test to run is implementing a cost calculator on product pages. Not only will this eliminate ‘the cost comparers’ from skewing your cart abandonment data, but you’ll also be upfront about any additional costs your customer will consume.

Many online shoppers comparison-shop and also tend to think about their purchase(s) prior to converting. It’s actually very unlikely a customer will visit your page and purchase something upon their first visit. That being said, if you’re not already collecting cookie data to ‘remember’ what visitors had in their baskets the last time they visited, you’re missing out! Allowing returning guests to access their previous carts, preferably without an account, is the most ideal situation you can offer your returning visitors.

Related: Infographic: Cart Abandonment – Why Do Shoppers Leave Without Paying?

Cart Abandonment: The Bane of eCommerce

Now that we’ve gone over reasons why people abandon and the importance of recovering them, lets get into the fun stuff! We’re going to look at how we can calculate 3 important insights; site abandonment, cart abandonment and checkout abandonment. Using the three of these metrics together provides a crystal clear insight into the behaviour of your customer.


1. Site Abandonment Rate

In short, this title is a little deceiving as most of you are thinking “isn’t that just the bounce rate?”. However, for this exercise it’s the percentage of people who visit your site and used the ‘Add to Cart’ button.

total orders submitted

In hindsight these individuals never made it to the checkout phase so you’ll get a good look at what specific products are specifically not converting to checkout well.

2. Cart Abandonment Rate

The percentage of people who visited your site, added an item to their cart and began the checkout phase.

total people who started carts

Using this calculation you’ll be able to see what products are specifically creating abandoned carts. Note, this metric will include those who are ost comparing, saving products for later or again simply getting distracted forgetting about their cart altogether.

3. Checkout Abandonment Rate

The percentage of people who decided to abandon during the very last stages of the checkout process.

total people who started checkout

This metric gives insight on those who simply abandoned at the last second. These are by far your warmest leads for remarketing efforts and should be followed up by an abandoned cart email or retargeting product ads.

Related: Five Design Elements That Can Kill Conversion

Okay, Go Implement!

Once you have calculated your site, cart and checkout abandonment rates you’ll be ready to test new ways to retrieve your existing traffic. Retailers of any genre should be running tests left right and center in attempt to decrease cart abandonment. If you’re not retargeting individuals who have visited, placed items into a cart, then abandon you’re simply leaving money on the table.

A quick couple testing opportunities to highlight are:

To learn more about how conversion is a bad metric (in isolation) for you to be focusing on in your business, download our free eBook:

Why Conversion Rate Is a Bad Metric (In Isolation) eBook

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