Is Ecommerce Losing Its Battle With Lost Passwords?

Adam Rowe

It's no secret that we've all migrated online to our Zoom group chats and Netflix binges in the devastating wake of the still very much ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. Online shopping is hugely up as well, naturally, and that means a surge in ecommerce's greatest natural enemy: abandoned shopping carts.

Here's a look at the reasons why a jaw-dropping 69.57% of virtual shopping carts were left un-checked out in 2019, and whether there's any hope for ecommerce websites everywhere.

More on this – see our guide to the Best Enterprise Password Managers for Businesses

Lost Passwords Cause Abandoned Shopping Carts

This problem is, of course, nothing new. A 2017 study from MasterCard and the University of Oxford found that roughly a third of abandoned purchases are lost because the would-be shopper forgot their password for that particular business.

That's a huge chunk of lost business, and it easily adds up to multi-million-dollar losses for larger online retailers.

Understandably, with web users having to keep track of dozens and dozens of logins, there's a temptation to simply re-use the same password over again. But this is one of the least secure ways to manage your passwords, and can lead to data risks across multiple sites if even one is compromised.

While lost passwords are the biggest reason for abandoned online shopping carts, password manager NordPass has compiled a few additional reasons on top of this. NordPass research has found that 14% of shoppers will give up on a purchase if there's no guest checkout option. Plus, a lengthy checkout process in general will also drive cart abandonment.

The bottom line is that online shoppers hate wasting their time, and love a speedy checkout process.

Building your own online store? See our guide to the Best Ecommerce Website Builders

What can Ecommerce Sites do?

These holes in the sales funnel add up fast, and it's impossible to ensure that customers never forget their passwords. Still, online businesses can speed up the amount of time it takes customers to get a new password. The NordPass study found that 18.75% of online shoppers abandon their cart during the password reset process. 

“Studies show that people are extremely impatient online,” says Chad Hammond, a security expert at NordPass. “Even if they have already placed their items in the basket, they’re still in a very fragile state, and every little roadblock can lead to an abandoned cart. Shockingly, in 2019, a total of 69.57% of the carts was abandoned for various reasons. And with increasing online sales, every forgotten password costs more and more.”

Killer tip – send a reset password fast

Hammond notes one fixable problem comes from ecommerce sites' method of processing accounts. Most sites will send a confirmation email when resetting a password, but may not actually send the email for several minutes. These are minutes that make a huge difference to attention-sapped consumers.

In other words, ecommerce sites can address at least part of their lost-password problem by streamlining their password reset procedures, vetting them to see how long it takes, and changing anything that can shave a few more second off the process without opening up any security vulnerabilities.

Will the Pandemic Make it all Worse?

Ipsos MORI polling data from March 12-15 shows that 31% of consumers in Italy and 50% of consumers in China — two bellwethers for global consumption trends under coronavirus lockdowns — are shopping online “more frequently.”

This doesn't mean that lost passwords and abandoned shopping carts will increase in proportion to 2019's numbers. After all, people are mostly shopping for essentials online now, from food to batteries to tools, and they won't abandon those items on a whim.

And it is true that precautionary measures are on the rise right alongside the boom in internet traffic. VPN use has soared in the month of March, even surging as far as 165% for NordVPN Teams, so it's not out of the question that the most useful password managers might see a similar boom as well.

Still, a huge number of small businesses are now online-only for the first time. Those businesses are getting a crash course in plugging the leaks in their online funnel. The first lesson: passwords are easy to forget.

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Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for the last decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry (and Digital Book World 2018 award finalist) and has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect. When not glued to TechMeme, he loves obsessing over 1970s sci-fi art.

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