Unclear Shipping Policies Lead to Cart Abandonment

A 2012 study from comScore shows that a surprising amount of shopping cart abandonment is connected to shipping cost issues. 55% of cart abandoners said they jumped ship because the shipping costs made the total purchase more than expected, 51% said they abandoned when they realized their order value wasn’t large enough to qualify for free shipping, and 40% bailed because shipping and handling costs were listed too late in the shopping process.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shipping costs aren’t the number one reason for shopping cart abandonment, but they do make up three out of the top five reasons. How can you prevent shipping cost issues from disrupting the online shopping process? From the user experience perspective, it’s important to communicate everything the customer needs to know before they get to the shopping cart. Here’s how major brands are preventing dropoff by clearly communicating shipping costs before customers reach the finish line.

Offer free shipping

A solid 56% of cart abandoners flee because shipping costs end up making the total purchase more than expected. Offering free shipping will obviously eliminate this complaint. As shown in the example below, Zappos offers free shipping on all domestic orders, with no minimum order size. Of course, for smaller companies, picking up the cost of shipping is easier said than done.

Zappos Shipping

Show free shipping requirements ASAP

Another 55% of cart abandoners did so when they realized their order wasn’t large enough to qualify for free shipping. If you’re going to order free shipping for a certain price point, make the offer immediately visible throughout the entire shopping process. In the example below, Target notes their free shipping minimum on the product page, before the item hits the cart. This prepares users for what’s ahead, so that they know they need to add to the order before checking out.

Target Shipping


comScore’s study shows that 40% of cart abandonment happens when shoppers are informed of shipping and handling costs too late in the process. Sharing your shipping policy early on (on each product page) lets users make informed decisions before they commit. The Etsy shop below lists shipping costs for this drawing according to location, so that shoppers from all over the globe know exactly what they’ll pay.

Etsy Shipping


How do you discourage shipping-related shopping cart abandonment?