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January 2, 2024

Abandoned cart vs abandoned checkout: How to recover lost sales?

Table of Content

Shoppers abandon their orders at different stages of the buying journey. Like most ecommerce marketers and owners, you must have confused the abandoned cart vs abandoned checkout. 

It’s hard keeping up with changing customer behavior, and most stores are losing sales despite high website traffic.  Hence, understanding where potential customers drop off in the buying journey is crucial for rectifying problems and reducing the average shopping cart abandonment rate and checkout abandonments. 

By tracking and analyzing user experience, you can deploy the right channels and tactics to turn website visits into successful transactions for your ecommerce. 

Discover how you can track abandoned cart vs abandoned checkout behaviors on your store, possible reasons for lost sales, and how to reduce abandonment rates.

What is the difference between abandoned carts and abandoned checkouts? 

If you are analyzing lost sales on your ecommerce store, most likely you’re facing a dilemma distinguishing between different types of abandonments. Does it matter? Sure! The key to retaining sales is addressing the root cause of abandonment and to figure out the cause you have to find out where and when people abandon your store. 

Both ecommerce shopping cart abandonment and abandoned checkout occur when customers abandon a sale. The distinguishing factor lies in the exit step or stage – when this abandonment takes place.

To understand the difference, you must clearly understand the buying journey. 

  • Browsing stage: your ads or organic reach will bring visitors to your website regularly. But only 3% on average will convert, as per industry insights. 3% of visitors will likely browse though your products, given that you have a well functioning and optimized website. 
  • Creating a shopping cart: if your products are what the visitor looks for, they will create a shopping cart and add one or multiple items. At this stage, they can either continue the buying process or abandon their carts. This is an instance of cart abandonment. 
  • Checkout: if a customer decides to go through with a purchase, they will click to checkout. This is where friction can happen more often and customers could abandon checkout. This is where the customer creates an account and adds their information attempting to achieve the final step in the journey. 
  • Payment and confirmation: the final stage in the buying journey is when the customer enters and validates their payment information and confirm their order. Here too, the customer could leave and it becomes an instance of abandoned checkout. 
icons representing abandoned cart vs abandoned checkout |

Bottom line: cart abandonment occurs when a shopper adds an item to their cart but leaves the site or app without completing the purchase. Checkout abandonment, on the other hand, happens when a customer starts the checkout process but doesn't finalize the purchase.

To be able to address frictions on your ecommerce store effectively and implement the right strategies you must keep a close eye on what actions visitors take and where they are dropping off to determine reasons for abandonment. 

Abandoned cart vs abandoned checkout: reasons people abandon the buying journey?

Customer behavior is constantly changing and it can be hard to understand or categorize it. However, there are some common factors that result in checkout abandonment or cart abandonment. We’ve analysed reports from different ecommerce stores and retailers in UAE, a primary market for BusinessChat, and the following are the common reasons we discovered. 

Why do people add to cart but not checkout? 

According to the latest reports from Statistia, ecommerce stores in the Middle East are losing 88.1% of shopping carts. Shoppers abandon their carts for countless different reasons; perhaps they were distracted, are just canvassing, or their kids took off with their phone! 

Yet, many shoppers abandon their carts due to inconveniences on the ecommerce website. The following are issues that you can control and mitigate. 


  • Website performance issues such as low speed, crushes, and other technical problems can inhibit visitors from moving forward with the process of shopping cart creation. Lack of optimization for different devices is also a leading cause for cart abandonment. Barillance reports an average cart abandonment rate of 73.07% on desktop, 80% on tablets, and over 85% on mobile phones. 
  • Not including enough product details can force visitors to initiate the cart creation process in hope of finding out more information just to be disappointed and leave. 
  • Not mentioning shipping costs upfront can discourage the customer from finishing the checkout after discovering high costs. 48% of shoppers will abandon their carts due to unexpected costs. 

You can implement different strategies to remedy your losses and bring people back to your ecommerce store to finish their purchase (Coming up next 😉). However, if your checkout process is fraught with friction and inconveniences, chances are returning shoppers will not convert any better the second time. 

Why do people abandon checkout? 

If a shopper starts the checkout process, they’re 100% convinced and want your product. Everything, though, rests on how good is your process. Here’s what could go wrong:

  • Overly long forms can be discouraging for customers, potentially leading to checkout abandonment. 18% of checkout abandoners leave because of complicated processes. 
  •  Mandatory account creations can discourage customers from moving forward in the process. 23% of shoppers will leave if they’re obliged to create a new user account. 
  • Indicators such as the absence of SSL certification, or an unconventional payment gateway frequently contribute to the abandonment of the checkout process. 18% of shoppers will leave due to security concerts, especially submitting their financial information to seemingly untrustworthy websites. 
  • Not displaying prices in local currencies may create confusion, as customers want to understand the real cost in their familiar currency.
  • Limited payment choices, such as only supporting a few credit cards, can exclude potential customers who prefer alternative payment methods.

Obviously, you can make amends and change the odds in your favor. But before deciding which cart or checkout abandonment strategy you want to implement, you need to understand where and when your website visitors are dropping off to understand their pain points and address them effectively. 

Important: Note that Shopify will only capture checkout abandoners as they have started creating an account. For shopping carts abandonment, you will only get data if the shopper is a previous customer or has signed up to your newsletter or email. In simple terms, Shopify needs o know who the visitor is. If this is not the case, you can track abandoned carts only though setting up a funnel on your G4 account. 

Track customer behavior on GA4 to distinguish abandoned cart and abandoned checkouts

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a powerful tool that can help track customer experiences and identify points where they abandon the purchase process.

Here's how integrating Google Analytics 4 can benefit your e-commerce store:

  • Enhanced user journey tracking: GA4 offers improved user journey tracking, allowing you to see how users move through your site, from landing pages to the checkout process. You can analyze the entire customer journey, including interactions with different elements on your site.
  • Event tracking: GA4 enables more flexible event tracking, allowing you to set up specific events for key actions on your e-commerce site, such as product views, adding items to the cart, and initiating the checkout process. You can set up custom events to track user behavior at a granular level.
  • Funnel Analysis: With GA4, you can set up and analyze conversion funnels to identify drop-off points in the purchase process. This helps in understanding where users are abandoning their carts or checkouts and especially capturing the abandoned carts with no contact information. It could help analyse potential pain points only our store even if you won’t get to recover those sales. 

The following video explains how you can set up funnel events to track and monitor cart abandonments on your store. 

Integrate GA4 to your ecommerce store and use the data and analytics it provides to make data driven decisions. This is the first essential step to understand and personalize your customers journey on your website. 

What metrics to track for abandoned cart vs abandoned checkout? 

To understand your store’s performance, there are a few metrics that you can rely on. 

  • Cart abandonment rate: How do you calculate the abandonment rate of a shopping cart? to calculate the shopping cart abandonment rate, divide the total number of completed purchases by the number of shopping carts created. Subtract the result from one and multiply by 100. This should show you how much potential you’re missing out on. 
  • Checkout abandonment rate: divide the total number of completed transactions by the number of initiated checkouts, subtract it from 1, and multiply it by 100. This should show you how much money you’re losing and what you will be gaining when implementing the right tactics. 
  • Abandoned order value: when customers add items to carts but leave without buying, consider the overall value lost. Whether a few abandon high-value baskets or the reverse, knowing the average abandoned cart value provides a comprehensive view of the true impact on your business. While there’s no direct way to calculate this rate, you can instead consider your average order value or manually go through abandoned carts and check the average value. 
  • Time to checkout:  the less time a customer takes to complete a checkout process, the more likely they will confirm. Go through the checkout process yourself and time it. 
  • Load speed: your website load speed has a direct impact on whether people finish a checkout or not. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to see what’s your website score. This will help you understand if there are any issues and optimize accordingly. 

Now that you have a clear vision of your website events and customer pain points on your store, you can implement tactics and strategies to reduce your revenue losses. 

Abandoned cart vs abandoned checkout: how to bring shoppers back?

Depending on where your website is lagging, you can choose from the following strategies to retain sales.  

Abandoned carts recovery strategies

Depending on whether the shopper is about to leave your website or has already left, you can implement different tactics to lure them back. 

Abandoned carts popup

Exit intent abandoned carts pop-up is a valuable tool for ecommerce stores. These pop-ups typically trigger when a customer navigates away from their shopping cart without completing a purchase. It’s on the spot tactic to win shoppers back as they might be still considering purchasing. Besides, this is the only way possible to capture shoppers who did not submit their contact info and convince them to complete the purchase. 

Personalize the pop-up message to remind customers of the items they left behind. Additionally, consider offering limited-time promotions or discounts to incentivize immediate actions. This can deal with some of the abandonment reasons such as unexpected costs or waning product interest. 

Note that the exit intent popup can work well for abandoned checkout as well. Just make sure you optimize each one to the relevant stage. 

Abandoned carts notifications

If shoppers have left your store and the popup failed to capture their attention, you need to implement the next tactic. Sending personalized messages to remind shoppers of their abandoned carts and incentivize them to return. Using the right channel is key to high ROI. WhatsApp is the leading communication channel in the Middle East, hence it’s the best option for your store in the UAE or GCC in general.

MHG Boutique, the ultimate house of Emirati luxury, as they brand themselves, a leading Shopify store in UAE is yielding 322% ROI from WhatsApp cart abandonment campaigns. 

Still, as we said earlier, you must have a perfect checkout process for customers to convert. So, how to achieve that? Keep ready! 

How do I fix abandoned checkouts?

The checkout form and process are deal breakers for your store. Here’s what you can do to amend any inconveniences:

  • Make it easy: according to findings by the Baymard Institute, a substantial improvement of 20% to 60% in the number of form elements presented to users during the standard checkout process is achievable for most platforms. Strive to streamline the checkout experience, aiming for a seamless "one-click" process.
  • Provide different payment methods: allowing various payment methods will allow shoppers to choose what suits them best, plus making it easy for international payments. 
  • Provide prices in local currencies: your website should support currency conversion based on IP addresses. Having the prices available in their local currencies will make it easier for customers to make a quick decision. 
  • Allow guest checkout: people are leading busy lives, they would definitely appreciate checking out without the need to create an account, which might take long time. Remove the obligatory account creation, win your customers’ appreciation, and capture their information another way, through WhatsApp widgets or welcome popups. 

Finally, make sure you offer on standby customer support for any unexpected hurdles. This should be enough to minimize your checkout and cart abandonment rates on your ecommerce store! Start today; each second matters! 

Abandoned cart vs abandoned checkout FAQs

What is the difference between abandoned checkout and abandoned cart?

The key contrast between cart abandonment and checkout abandonment pertains to the stage in the purchasing process where users decide not to proceed with their purchase—whether it's after adding items to their cart or during the actual checkout. This distinction holds significance because certain metrics can be utilized to identify and understand the specific moments and reasons behind customers abandoning either their cart or the checkout process.

What is abandoned checkout?

An abandoned checkout is when a customer has shared their email information but fails to complete the checkout process by proceeding with the payment to finalize their order.

What is a good cart abandonment rate?

According to the Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate is around 70%. Statista reveals that stores in the Middle East are losing around 80% of their carts. Of course, there’s no good cart abandonment rate, any loss is terrible for your ecommerce. However, dealing promptly with these cases through reminders, popups, etc, will recover sales and boost your revenue. 

How do you handle abandoned checkouts?

Set up abandoned checkout automations to reach out to checkout abandoners promptly. Offer incentives to urge them to come back. Ask for feedback to address their pain points and personalize your service. Optimize your checkout process and monitor drop-offs on Google Analytics to improve the buyer’s journey. 

How can we reduce cart abandonment?

The best two tactics to reduce cart abandonment are:

  1. Implement exit intent popups: these will capture shoppers about to leave your store and entice them to finish the checkout with good offers. This can recover up to 20% of lost sales. 
  2. Send personalized cart abandonment reminders to shoppers who left your store. On average, stores using WhatsApp as a communication channel in the UAE are recovering 25% of lost carts. 

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