How to Boost Add to Cart Rate

Running a successful e-commerce business goes beyond counting today’s revenue. You need to understand the numerous factors that influence which customers go to your website, browse for items, and click that coveted “add to cart” button. To thrive in retail e-commerce, you not only must understand the customer journey, but also optimize it to ensure continued revenue and improve key performance indicators (KPIs). One such KPI that can make or break the success destiny of your store is the add to cart rate.

In this article, we’ll dive into what this add to cart metric represents, how to calculate it, and strategies to elevate your e-commerce game.

What is add to cart rate? 

The add-to-cart rate or add-to-cart conversion rate is an e-commerce metric that measures the percentage of visitors who take the pivotal step of adding products to their shopping carts during their online shopping session. This metric acts as a benchmark. It reveals how effectively your e-commerce store entices visitors to explore your products further and convert into customers. 

The customer journey from “browsing” to “add-to-cart” can look like this: 

  • Imagine you are a customer browsing an online clothing store. You come across a stylish pair of sneakers that you’re interested in purchasing. You click on the product page to learn more about the sneakers.
  • On the product page, you see detailed information about the sneakers, including images, a description of the product, its price, available sizes, and color options.
  • Below the product details, you notice an “add to cart” button.
  • You select the color and size of the sneakers you want and click the “add to cart” button.
  • After clicking “add to cart,” a notification confirms that the sneakers have been added to your cart. You also see a summary of your shopping cart, which includes the product you just added, its price, and the option to proceed to checkout or continue shopping.

How does the add to cart conversion rate work? 

To grasp the essence of this metric, you’ll need two essential data points:

  • Number of visitors: This is the total count of individuals who visit your e-commerce store within a specific time frame.
  • Number of add-to-cart rate actions: This represents the instances when visitors add products to their shopping carts during their visit.

How do you calculate the add to cart rate?

The add-to-cart rate is simply a ratio of the number of sessions where an item was added to the cart through the cart button (not taking into account abandoned carts) vs. how many visitors your website saw overall. 

Add-to-cart rate = (Number of sessions with cart item) / (Total number of website sessions)

Why is the add to cart rate important? 

The add-to-cart conversion rate is a critical metric to track for any e-commerce business. It serves as a vital indicator of website performance. This metric offers valuable insights into the effectiveness of various elements, such as product pages, pricing strategies, and the overall user experience. Add-to-cart conversion rates can range from just over 2% to 14%+, depending on the industry. 

High add to cart conversion rate

A high add-to-cart rate signifies that an e-commerce website is successfully turning visitors into potential customers, demonstrating that the product offerings, presentation, and pricing resonate with the audience. 

Low add to cart conversion rate

Conversely, a low conversion rate may signal areas that require improvement or optimization. This prompts businesses to refine their strategies and create a more compelling and user-friendly shopping environment. For example, product images may not be detailed enough or size guides are confusing or simply aren’t available. Perhaps, there aren’t enough product reviews or social proof. They could be concerned about unknown shipping costs. Maybe the website is too slow or crashes too often. No matter what the cause may be, customers aren’t confident enough in pursuing a potential purchase to even add an item to their online cart. 

How to increase your add to cart rate

If your add-to-cart rate isn’t where you want it to be, don’t fret. We’ve compiled a set of best practices to consider when aiming to optimize this essential metric.

1. Mobile-friendly experience

Given the significant portion of web traffic originating from mobile devices and social media platforms, it’s crucial to ensure that your website caters to a diverse range of user devices. 

Mobile users should enjoy a seamless shopping experience, just like desktop users. Pay special attention to elements like pop-ups, checkout pages, customer reviews, and chat windows, as they are often not optimized for mobile. 

2. Audience-centric product pages

Understanding your website users and their geographical origins is pivotal in catering to their unique needs and preferences. 

Utilize tools like Google Analytics and SEO data to gain insights into your audience’s demographics and behaviors. Armed with this information, tailor your product pages to align with their expectations. For instance, offer features such as free returns, prominent “Buy Now” buttons, customer testimonials, social proof, and competitive shipping costs that resonate with your target audience. 

Size guides, images, videos, product reviews, and user-generated content should also be up-to-date and readily available to give customers confidence in their purchase

By aligning your product pages with your visitors’ needs, you’ll create an environment that encourages them to shop your store and add items to their carts.

3. Personalized product recommendations

Take advantage of customers’ engagement with your website by offering personalized product recommendations. Amazon is the GOAT (greatest of all time) in this effort. Anyone that has made an additional purchase through the “customers who bought [the chosen product] also bought…” recommendation strategy can attest to this. According to surveys and research findings, 86% of consumers agree that personalization plays a crucial role in influencing their purchasing choices.

You can increase the average add-to-cart rate by proactively guiding customers toward relevant products. Implement real-time calls to action (CTAs) that prompt users to explore complementary or related items. 

Additionally, include recommended product sections within each product description to pique their interest in additional purchases. Consider using pop-ups to steer them towards similar or related items across your website. 

This tailored approach keeps customers engaged and encourages them to add more items to their carts, ultimately boosting your conversion rates.

4. Optimize marketing campaigns 

If the website content and product pages are optimized, easy to understand, and up to date, and there is nothing technically wrong with the website, add-to-cart rates could still remain low if digital marketing campaigns aren’t reaching or resonating with the right audiences. Take a second look at your audience segments. Consider creating segments based on buying history, browsing behavior, preferences, etc. instead of more general segments based on gender, geography, age, etc. Remember, that just because a marketing campaign drives clicks, likes, or email opens doesn’t mean that it necessarily will drive sales or even get potential customers to add items to their carts. So it’s important to optimize toward conversions over clicks. 

Once audience segments have been optimized, the next step is to use more effective language across your digital marketing campaigns. Persado Essential Motivation is a self-service Generative AI solution for enterprise brands that creates the highest-performing digital marketing messaging across email, SMS, social media, website, and more using over a decade of performance insights from Fortune 500 brands.  

5. Reconsider inventory and pricing 

Still trying to sell skinny jeans? Hoping Rae Dunn will come back in style? If technical issues with the website or inadequate product listings have been eliminated, but add-to-cart rates remain low, the problem could be the inventory itself. Inventory may be out of style or not relevant to your audience. Today, trends go in and out of style faster than ever. This is a result of how quickly trends go viral and become overexposed on social media. So it can be challenging to keep inventory fresh. Regardless of trends, the inventory itself matters. If products are low quality or don’t serve a real purpose, customers will quickly catch on, lose interest, and won’t add items to their carts. The same can occur if prices are too high compared to the same or similar products on other e-commerce sites. 

Add to cart conversion rate vs. cart abandonment rate 

When it comes to the final stages of the digital shopping journey, there is a general hierarchy of steps customers must complete in order to finalize a purchase. First, customers must add a product or products to their cart, then land on the cart page, move forward to the checkout page, enter their payment information, and hit buy. With so many steps to purchase, there are many opportunities for customers to abandon their purchase. Brands should take note of where customers are “falling off” and optimize that step in the journey. While cart abandonment and the hidden effects of cart abandonment remain major issues for retailers, if an e-commerce website isn’t properly optimized, customers may not even get that far. This makes the add-to-cart rate a significant metric to track alongside cart abandonment and checkout abandonment rates. 

Persado Dynamic Motivation uses dynamic personalization to inspire customers to move forward on their buying journey once in the online cart. It combines session data (i.e. purchase history, browsing behavior, preferences, etc.) with Generative AI (specifically the Persado Motivation AI knowledge base) to serve the highest-performing messaging to each customer in the online cart. When Dynamic Motivation is applied to the online cart, it reduces cart abandonment. Brands that use Dynamic Motivation in the online cart tend to see a 3-5% increase in e-commerce revenue. 

Request a risk-free trial of Persado Essential Motivation or Dynamic Motivation, both based on Persado Motivation AI, the #1 Generative AI Text Content Generation solution according to a recent CB Insights landscape analysis

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