Cart abandonment

Solving the international complications of shopping cart abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the biggest bugbears of online retailers, running at an average global rate of 70% and leading to over $260 billion of lost sales.

There are several common causes for dropping out of the sales process across different countries and cultures. However, retailers looking to target international markets must also be aware of the unique factors for each of the countries in which they operate. Simple changes can have a significant impact.

The first step is to analyse your checkout process. It sounds obvious, but it’s imperative to make sure every step is in the local language. 55% of consumers say they will only buy from websites where information is in their native language. With the average checkout flow featuring over 23 form elements, it’s easy to overlook something that could make a critical difference to a completed sale.

A guest checkout facility is also essential for international sales, as consumers may be reluctant to sign up to retail brands with whom they are not familiar. Additionally, they might be unwilling to spend time completing long forms with a brand they are not yet committed to visiting regularly.

Localising payment options

Trust also plays a massive part in the payment options you present at checkout and research has found that 67% of online shoppers abandon carts because a site doesn’t support local payment methods.

Always make sure you offer the most trusted method of payment for the region among the options and clearly show local trust marks.

In the UK, credit cards, debit cards and PayPal make up for 96% of all online payments so it’s easy to assume these are global behaviours. In Germany, however, 41% of people prefer to pay on account.

Germany’s second most popular payment method is PayPal, favoured by almost one-third of online shoppers. Around 70% of Germans will settle their accounts via Direct Debit or Bank Wire Transfer.

While PayPal is a popular choice in Europe and North America, in other countries, it’s a different story. Chinese consumers may well prefer AliPay and Brazilians prefer Boleto Bancario.

In emerging economies, which are becoming increasingly valuable e-commerce markets, cash-on-delivery (COD) is still often the primary payment method. For example, COD accounts for over 50% of transactions in India.

Consumers in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and the UAE, over 50% of shoppers prefer COD. Over two-thirds of online transaction in the Middle East and Northern Africa are settled in cash.

Tailoring delivery options

It’s also crucial to ensure shipping costs are aligned to those offered by local retailers. This will help stop customers from switching to cheaper alternatives. In the US, the success of Amazon Prime means consumers are more reluctant to pay at all for shipping. One of our clients saw a 113% rise in transactions by shifting to free delivery for orders above a certain amount.

Consider delivery timescales too. Your customers in Northern Australia will have different expectations of delivery times from those in central New York for instance.

Consumers in an increasing number of cities now expect same-day delivery. In Amsterdam, some companies will deliver directly to the customer, wherever they are, rather than an empty home.

Seemingly minor details, such as date and time display preferences matter. Guaranteeing delivery by 5/4/2018, for example, means May 4, 2018, in the US. However, in the UK it’s April 5, 2018. Not catching this detail would upset customers in the UK when their package arrives a month later than expected.

Getting returns right

Finally, do your research and make sure your returns policies match local customer expectations. Unexpected and unwelcome returns policies are an increasingly influential factor in shopping cart abandonment.

UPS consumer surveys found that 88% of shoppers review a retailer’s return policy during their online shopping experiences, with 66% checking it immediately before purchase and 15% abandoning a cart when the returns policy is unclear.


Shopping cart abandonment will always be an issue for e-commerce retailers. Removing any cultural roadblocks in the customer experience is an easy way to see dramatic results. A little research and cultural insight can help maximise your overall sales.

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