I received this from a reader a week or so ago:

I've read your post on cart abandonment rate with interest. The one thing that puzzles me is that a standard cart abandonment rate calculation is nowhere to be found. Some merchants calculate the filled carts against the placed orders, while others calculate the first step of checkout against the placed orders.

Those could be quite different numbers. I think that both instances are useful, but I can't understand if, say, a 50% cart abandonment rate, is bad or good if I don't know how it's calculated.

After all, filled carts which never got to the checkout process could double or triple my statistic base, compared to those who started it.

Could you specify if your numbers are calculated against filled carts or against checkout processes?

Here's my answer:

Ecommerce conversion rate can be broken up into 3 different calculations, which is probably why there's not one single shopping cart abandonment calculation. These three calculations are:

1. Site conversion: The most popular of the conversion rate calculations, this is the ratio of the number of total site visitors to the number of completed orders over a given period of time.

What's a good baseline number? According to data collected from the Fireclick index today, the average ecommerce conversion rate is 1.80%. Industry conversion rates vary, though:

Vertical Conversion rate
Software 4.1%
Catalog 3.6%
Fashion and Apparel 2.1%
Specialty 2.0%
Electronics 0.4%
Outdoor and Sports 0.3%

See more granular data at the Fireclick Index.

2. Cart conversion: The ratio of the number of visits to the shopping cart to the number of completed orders.

There's also a metric called cart abandonment rate that is related to this calculation.

3. Checkout conversion: The ratio of the number of people visiting the first checkout page to the number of completed orders.

You can get more granular data into why customers abandon checkout by setting up a checkout funnel.

Use our website lead calculator to find out if your website is getting the leads it should