July 14th, 2015 | 4 MIN READ

Applying Cultural Context to Cart Abandonment

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

Earlier this year, a study by ComScore commissioned by UPS surveyed global online shoppers about their cart abandonment habits.

Aggregate data hides insights, while segmented data reveals them. How can ecommerce marketers apply this data to contextual optimization efforts?


Let's take a closer look at what the data suggests for each of these regional segments: APAC, Brazil, Mexcio, US and Western Europe:


Digital buyers in Asia Pacific are more likely to abandon carts with intent to pick up the shopping journey at a later time (or on a different device). They are less conscious of shipping costs, and less concerned about payment options than other regions.


Free shipping is the darling of US ecommerce, and American shoppers demand it. 1 in 2 would abandon a purchase if the cart total doesn't qualify for free shipping, and are most likely to defer a purchase to compare shipping charges across retailers.

Though "sticker shock" (unexpectedly high shipping charges) is comparable to Brazil, Mexico and Western Europe, considering the prevalence of free shipping in the US and domestic rates when purchasing from globalized American brands, the tolerance to shipping charges may be effectively even lower than other countries.

US and Western European shoppers are less likely to simply get distracted and forget to complete a purchase, which may indicate more serious online purchase intent, or a higher cultural likelihood to shop in a distraction-free context (at home or work) vs. via mobile on the go, for example.


Brazilians are less likely to defer purchases for later, but are conscious of payment options. In Brazil, it's not uncommon to pay in instalments, even across multiple payment options. Many ecommerce platforms are not equipped to handle recurring billing via multiple cards, only offering one-time, single source payments.

Western Europe

Several European countries also tend to favor bank transfer and non-credit card payment options, which may account for why Western Europeans are more likely than the US and Asia to abandon for this reason.

Compared to US shoppers, Europeans are less likely to defer a purchase but more likely to get distracted during the e-shopping visit.


A smaller but emerging market, Mexican shoppers are more tolerant to shipping costs, and least likely to abandon due to sticker shock.

Like Brazilians, Mexicans abandon when their preferred payment options are unavailable, such as convenience store payments (via barcode voucher provided by online merchant), and Mercado Pago, an e-wallet.

Optimizing for global digital shoppers

Though these profiles are based on data, they are still hypothetical. Your own data may tell a different story. Further, the reasons offered for abandoning carts are universal, and segmented profiles can't predict what the individual will do.

Optimization is about anticipating and mitigating FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). While some regions may report higher or lower propensity to abandon for a given reason, a marketer and UX professional should consider each of these factors when designing the experience, and consider the FUD of the domestic market might not cover the global FUD that should be addressed.

Universally, using persistent carts and cross-device consistency addresses save-for-later and got-distracted reasons for abandonment.

For carts that fall slightly short of the shipping threshold, an e-tailer could add cross-sells that fall within the dollar spread to qualify.

Contextualizing the digital shopping experience

A more targeted way to optimize your site for international shoppers is to tailor your experience based on geo-IP:

1. Geo-merchandising

ASOS.com offers free shipping worldwide, with variable cart total thresholds by country:


In the cart summary, the customer selects shipping method, with the free shipping threshold noted in the drop-down, targeted to the user's geo-identified location.


Nieman Marcus shows US and international customers different header offers. Offers could be excluded from countries and regions where free shipping is cost prohibitive.


Consider calculating free shipping thresholds for various regions, and using geo-IP targeting to serve the right offer to the right visitor (regions excluded from this offer can be shown a generic header).

2. Geo-UX

Aliexpress offers a variety of payment options in checkout, and uses visually identifiable icons for each region.


If your technology permits, offer the payment methods your international shoppers demand, and serve the right checkout format based on geo-IP (with the opportunity to override country), or use AJAX to populate relevant payment method options after billing address entry.

3. Geo-retargeting

Don't forget to optimize your remarketing campaigns. Consider excluding geographies with high cart abandonment (e.g. due to unavoidable high costs of shipping), and definitely exclude countries you don't ship to. This will better manage your remarketing spend and avoid dilution of your campaign performance.

Want to learn more about contextual commerce strategies? May we suggest:

Using Geo-IP to Vamp Your Value Propositions

The Head to Toe View of the Customer

Single Customer View: Myth or Omnichannel Nirvana?

The Pitfalls of Standalone Personalization Strategy

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