Optimizing Your Store: Add to Cart Rate, How to Increase it? [S02.E04]

The add to cart rate has a lot in common with the cause of the cart abandonment rate as in both cases the percentage shows the amount of carts that were filled with some products and for some reason were then abandoned.

Add to Cart percentage is one of a “metrics trinity” that help define the overall success rate of the store. The other two are Bounce Rate and Cart Completion.

This is the next episode of the “Optimizing Your Store” series, here are the themes we’ve already covered:

What every shop owner wants is to make the user add products to the cart, and later tell success stories about himself, his awesome store and what an ideal conversion rate he has etc.

One of my friends has got an online store and sells iPhone cases. He was so mad about the products dropped in the cart that he said, “if I wanted more add to carts, I would simply remove all other elements or trick them into clicking, but it will not result in more revenue...”

In case you care, and you think your cart needs to be optimized the answer is: yes, add-to-cart improvements can make a significant impact to conversion rates, contingent on whether the higher performance was a result of overcoming an issue on the website; like difficulty locating a product or lower hierarchical placement of add-to-cart on shopping pages.

From time to time a company will release research or a survey considering the most obvious themes. For example a study by PayPal and ComScore revealed 45% of US online shoppers abandoned shopping carts several times in just three weeks. Duh! But the worst thing is that the average cost of abandoned goods in those shopping carts was $109. “Not much”, some would say...but, if you then consider there are more than 200 million online shoppers,(200*45%*109=9.810) that’s $9.810m left unspent every week!!!

One of the possible reasons why $100 carts are abandoned is simply the psychological impact of a triple-digit sum: $100 is not perceived as $99 or as $99.9 or less.

The same study showed that for 46% of online shoppers high shipping charges were a “very important reason” for emptying carts.

Other possible reasons include:

  • Wanted to compare prices - 37%;
  • Lacked money - 36%;
  • Needed coupon - 27%;
  • Wanted to shop offline - 26%;
  • Couldn’t find preferable pay option - 24%;
  • Couldn’t reach customer support - 22%;
  • Security issues - 21%.

Specialists have found that most often customers leave carts with products totaling $50 and less. This can be easily explained...shipping costs. For example: the sweater costs $18 - the shipping costs is $15!!!, customers will definitely jump off.

Carts with products that cost more than $100 are half as likely to be abandoned than more expensive ones.

A sharp increase in the “abandon rate” is noted somewhere near $250, $400 and $500. This is because carts with very expensive products require special attention, if customers don’t get that special treatment they press the red cross.

When you know that the cart can be abandoned because of the product price you need to keep in mind the “most dangerous" prices. In this way you will develop an optimization strategy that will definitely help restore abandoned carts thus turning add-to-carts into successful purchases.

What to do?

1. Divide abandoned carts into several categories with low, medium and high overall cost of products.

2. In a cart with a low cost, pay attention to the ratio of delivery price compared to product price. To resolve this customer’s frustration you need to set the shipping price at no more than 20% of the total price of products in the cart.

3. Identify the critical price points that meet a sharp increase of the number of abandoned carts. This is a good baseline data for setting the threshold of a free delivery.

4. Test your threshold of free shipping. Representatives of Elastic Path, on the basis of A/B test, found that conversion does not change if the free delivery threshold ranges from $60 to $100. You can be sure that the threshold is selected correctly by measuring simultaneously the conversion rate/number of abandoned carts, average cost of products in cart and revenue.

5. Guys from SeeWhy recommend exploring cart abandonment rate of individual products, by analyzing products price and cost of delivery in order to identify reasons why exactly these specific products get abandoned. For example, an option like "buy online, get in store" can improve the conversion for some products.

6. Think about psychology of pricing when determining threshold of delivery. SeeWhy guys gave examples of good psychological tactics, used the one by Macy’s. Instead of a threshold of $100, they offer free shipping for carts with a total price of $99 and above.

7. Run remarketing email campaign (to restore baskets), based on the total value of products in the cart. Consider the fact that people who left carts with low and high costs, need to be motivated with various price offers.


When it comes to using some psychological tricks you need to pay attention to the colors you’re using, since they have the strongest influence on customers’ desire to stay or leave.

Following resources will help to find and solve mistakes in your eCommerce resource if there are any, considering cart design, use of color and CTA add-to-cart buttons:

Also check out these cool slideshows dedicated to cart optimization.

Source: Matthieu Dejardins

Source: WiTH Collective

To conclude

One of the best solutions of fighting abandoned carts is an email. Give them “a juicy donut” i.e. the discount, promo-code, free shipping, coupon or gift. Don’t forget to work on the usability of an online store; a checkout with more than one step is no longer mainstream, users hate going through multiple pages when buying something inexpensive with overpriced shipping.

Alex Bulat

Writing a blog post or building a micro niche WordPress website is something Alex can do bare-handed. You're welcome to contact him via Telegram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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