Business Tools and Process Automation

Mobile Cart Abandonment Study

Mobile Cart Abandonment Study

The E-commerce sector, including mobile shopping, has been growing rapidly in an unprecedented rate across the globe. Mobile shopping, or the purchase of goods or services using a mobile device, is very popular among online shoppers. Online consumer spending is amounted at a 2.3 TRILLION US DOLLARS in the year 2017 alone. Statistics also project that it will double to 4.8 trillion US dollars by 2021.

Read more: 50 Amazing Online Shopping and Ecommerce Statistics

Due to this sheer amount of spending, understanding consumer behavior is essential which calls for research to arise. A very pervasive issue of mobile shopping that interests online marketers the most is consumer behavior regarding mobile shopping cart abandonment.

FACT: According to Think with Google, 53% of visits are abandoned if mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

What is mobile shopping cart abandonment?

Huang et al. define mobile shopping cart abandonment as the behavioral outcome of leaving items in the mobile shopping cart without pushing through with its purchase. Shopping cart abandonment rate of mobile devices is lower compared to the abandonment rate of tablet and desktop devices. “The smaller the screen, the bigger the problem,” states Additionally, the average shopping cart abandonment rate for mobile devices is 85.6% compared to 80.7% for tablet, and 73.1% for desktop. High mobile cart abandonment rate yields in high economic losses.

Conflicts arising from mobile shopping

There are three cognitive conflicts affecting mobile shopping behavior. These conflicts are subcategorized into intrapersonal, and interpersonal conflicts. Intrapersonal conflicts refer to one’s positive or negative perception to an item. Differently, interpersonal conflicts are the difference of own positive or negative opinions against significant others’.  Huang et al. further subcategorizes intrapersonal conflicts to attribute conflicts, and self-efficacy. They defined attribute conflicts as the positive and negative thoughts of consumers about mobile channels. On the other hand, conflict in self-efficacy was defined as the consumers self-perception of their incapability to handle the process. These conflicts contributes to consumers’ emotional ambivalence that can lead to mobile shopping cart abandonment.

Why mobile shopping cart abandonment rate is at its the highest?

Online shoppers shy away with mobile shopping due to the risks it poses. Risks involved in online shopping cart abandonment include concerns about privacy intrusion, security breaches, and perceived inconvenience. Additionally, some of the consumers, use shopping carts only as a tool for organization and price comparison without the intention of purchasing the item/s. The study of Huang et al. also suggests mobile devices features a double-edged sword which can attract users to use mobile devices a their channel. But can also discourage them from pushing through with the purchase. This “double-edged sword” results to a higher mobile cart abandonment rate.

Huang et al. came up with seven hypotheses to study in their paper: “Mobile shopping cart abandonment: The roles of conflicts, ambivalence, and hesitation.” The following are the hypotheses from the study:

Consumers with higher level of conflict among their perceptions of mobile shopping attributes will experience a higher level of emotional ambivalence

There are many reasons why online shoppers use mobile shopping. Positive reasons that lead to consumer shopping satisfaction and encourage purchases perhaps due to its convenience, accessibility, mobility, efficiency, and enjoyment. However, there are also negative reasons that can deter and discourage users to complete their purchases. Negative reasons include concerns about security and privacy that leads anxiety. More reasons include access cost and risk related to credit cards may also worry consumers to complete the transaction.

The co-existence of these positive and negative reasons generates consumer conflicting thoughts that may hinder item purchase and may also lead to mobile shopping cart abandonment. Positive and negatives reasons attributes to emotional ambivalence.

Consumers with a lower level of self-efficacy regarding mobile shopping will experience a higher level of emotional ambivalence

Self-efficacy is the belief of a consumer’s capability to accomplish a certain task (for this example, completing the purchase.) Self-efficacy also influences one’e emotions. A lack of it may generate positive and negative feelings. For this example, online shoppers may be encourage with the conveniences and mobility mobile shopping presents and brings a sense of achievement. However, they may not dare to push through with it because of their lack of self-efficacy. The low level of consumer self-efficacy can give rise to emotional ambivalence.

Consumers with a higher level of interpersonal conflict regarding mobile shopping will experience a higher level of emotional ambivalence

We, as human beings, give utmost importance to what our peers say about a matter. Difference in consumers’ own experience with others may give rise to dissonance and anxiety. Conflicts between consumer’s opinion and those of their important others may lead to emotional ambivalence.

Emotional ambivalence increases the likelihood of mobile shopping cart abandonment

Even if a consumer possesses positive and negative feelings towards mobile shopping, a psychology study suggests that negative emotions is more dominant and more influential than positive emotions. Negative emotions play a huge role in the consumer’s decision making. Even when online shoppers proceed with initial purchase stages, they are less likely to complete the purchase due to emotional ambivalence which increases the likelihood of mobile shopping cart abandonment.

Consumers who are more ambivalent will be more likely to hesitate at checkout during their mobile purchase

Some consumers may postpone their purchases which is called online shopping hesitation. A study divides online hesitation into overall shopping hesitation, shopping cart abandonment, and hesitation to click the final button. While mobile shopping cart abandonment is a consumer behavior wherein they completely do not push through with the purchase, hesitation at checkout may still or may not proceed with the purchase but just adds processing time at the checkout stage.

Consumers who are more hesitant at checkout will be more likely to abandon their mobile shopping carts

Online shoppers, whose hesitance is due to anxiety, refuse self-service technology such as mobile shopping. This is another reason as to why mobile shopping cart abandonment is increasing. Consumers who hesitate are more likely to terminate the purchase, leaving items in their shopping carts.

Choice-process satisfaction moderates the hesitation at checkout-abandonment relationship, such that the relationship is weaker at higher levels of choice-process satisfaction

A healthy amount of alternative products can improve decision quality. When a consumer easily distinguish alternatives to a desired product, choice-process satisfaction increases. Additionally, effective product categorization, filter functions, product presentation layouts are important factors especially for mobile channels. High level of choice-process satisfaction weakens the correlation of hesitation at checkout and mobile shopping cart abandonment.

However, when consumers are faced with large variety of product alternatives, it may lead to choice overload. This can result to decrease decision confidence and satisfaction. On the other hand, the lack of choices relates to power deprivation. Smooth cognitive processes increase choice-process satisfaction and reduce negative emotions.

Important Concepts from the study

The study of Huang et al. entitled “Mobile shopping cart abandonment: The roles of conflicts, ambivalence, and hesitation” yielded major findings. First, intrapersonal conflicts such as attribute conflicts and low self-efficacy were found to negatively influence consumer emotions while mobile shopping. This leads in mobile shopping cart abandonment. Second, emotionally ambivalent consumers tend to hesitate during the checkout phase after placing products in their shopping carts. Thus, strengthening the motion that emotional ambivalence increases mobile shopping cart abandonment rate. Third, hesitant consumers who are satisfied with their choice process were proved to less likely abandon their shopping carts because they are conscious that they made the best choice.

The rise of discomfort or emotional ambivalence deters consumers from completing the transaction. This also proves that increasing number of consumers use mobile shopping, not as a channel to purchase from, but rather, as a tool for research and canvassing purposes.

How business managers can utilize the study

As the study presents specific consumer behavior, it can be used by business managers to their advantages and reduce the likelihood of mobile shopping cart abandonment.

Consumer Cognitive Conflicts must be minimized

Business managers can approach minimizing consumer cognitive conflicts by reducing the impact of negative attributes. The following specific approaches may greatly help: (1) improve website or application speed, (2) assure consumer privacy, (3) declutter the app’s home page.

Find ways to encourage online shoppers to not hesitate at checkout

There are many ways to encourage online shoppers in pushing through with the transaction. You can lure them in by presenting special offers to ensure sale conversion. This can positively affect there decision making triggering their shopping motivations. Manipulate shopping behavior by (1) offering free delivery and cash-on-delivery, (2) presenting discount coupons which can guarantee instant purchases and increased order size, (3) feature a limited special offers which can interest consumers promptly buying the product.

Implement appropriate product categorizations and effective filter functions

Managers should implement a less hassle product categorization and easy filter functions. This will help consumers in quickly finding their desired products. This can also minimize cognitive efforts which can, if not done well, lead to emotional ambivalence and, eventually, mobile shopping cart abandonment. Targeted advertisements on the front page of your business app may also help in decreasing the time consumers may take finding a product.

Final Thoughts

Mobile shopping cart abandonment roots from different causes. Personally, I am guilty of leaving items in my online shopping cart both in desktop and mobile channels. While I still use online shopping to buy different kind of stuffs online, I also use it for canvassing and price checking purposes. Additionally, I intentionally leave items in my cart for bookmarking purposes which I can proceed in checking out when the price becomes right. Most online shopping sites nowadays conduct monthly promotions (such as huge discounts on items) which I faithfully wait. Now that consumer behavior that leads to mobile shopping cart abandonment has already been established, managers should step up and counter those negative behaviors.


Huang et al. (n.d.). Mobile shopping cart abandonment: The roles of conflicts, ambivalence, and hesitation.

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James is the co founder of More Than Accountants an Online Accountants. He will be more than happy to help More Than Accountants clients implement any guides or strategies that he has posted to the blog. If you would like to learn more about becoming a More Than Accountants client you can quote online by using our Unlimited Accountancy Services Quoting Tool.

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