Excessive Shipping Costs – Top Reason for Shopping Cart Abandonment

I love Guinness.

However, ever since an Irish friend has recommended me to try Beamish, I’ve been asking about it in every grocery (and liquor) store around. Unfortunately, to no avail…

Finally, I’ve decided to look for it online. Luckily, I was able to find an online store — located within just 50 miles from me — that carried it. “Wow! How terrific!” I thought.

I added a four-pack to my shopping cart, and proceeded to checkout. Having reached the “Enter Zip for estimated shipping” field, I’ve entered mine, and oh my… Here’s what I’ve seen:

Did you know that 7 to 9 out of 10 online shopping carts get abandoned? Yes, between 70% and 88% of online customers leave the shopping cart without completing their purchase! And guess what the main reason is…

Per Forrester, the top reason for online shopping cart abandonment is excessive shipping costs with 44% of consumers dropping out under the shock of that “shipping and handling” field [more here]. ComScore echos these findings, revealing that as much as 55% of online customers abandon their shopping carts when shipping costs made “the total purchase cost more than expected” [more here]. My above case exemplifies it better than anything. Four pints of beer that cost $10 shouldn’t cost 246% of their price to ship — especially when I am only one-hour drive away from the store’s physical location.

If you run an online store, re-think your approach today. Whenever possible, offer free shipping (over a certain amount, of course) to (a) encourage greater spending, and (b) take the “shipping cost” stress out of the equation.

5 Replies to “Excessive Shipping Costs – Top Reason for Shopping Cart Abandonment”

  1. OK, you’ve got me interested. Now I’ve got to find some Beamish to try. The next time I am in Baltimore I’ve got a couple of places in mind – that may have it.

    Meanwhile, I certainly understand your cart abandonment. I may be able to rationalize the excessive charge – for the shipping of four breakable containers of liquid (containing alcohol) – but I, too, would have bailed out on that purchase.

    1. Bill, you were the first person I thought of when starting the post with “I love Guinness.” 🙂 When/if you find it in your neck of the woods, let me know. It may make a good excuse to drive up to Baltimore — to meet with you over a pint of Beamish.

  2. Very true, though there seems to be a growing trend in online retail toward offering free shipping including return without the minimum price point. I’m not sure how sustainable it is but it will be interesting to see in years to come how many retailers make that an inherent part of their unique selling proposition vs. a time to time campaign based promotional offer.

    1. Yes, Liz, I’ve been noticing this too. And it is the fact that free return shipping is becoming more commonplace that’s especially interesting. It’s gonna be harder and harder for brick-n-mortar stores to compete with such a strategy of their online opponents.

  3. Really nice article Geno. I find that sometimes the problem in the case of online publishers, is simply down to them ignoring the fact that they have international traffic and sending everyone to the same location regardless. One solution would be to integrate tracking URLs from multiple regions and networks in the one link, that way its possible to send everyone to the most native vendor so that they can benefit from the quickest and cheapest shipping possible.

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