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Online shoppers expect to receive assistance within five minutes, otherwise will either head elsewhere or abandon a purchase altogether. 

This stat comes from LivePerson's Connecting with Consumers report, which is based on a survey of more than 5,700 online consumers from the UK, USA, Australia, France, Germany and Italy. 

The report contains some interesting stats. Here are a few highlights... 

Reasons for abandonment of online purchases

Web shoppers are a demanding bunch, and are likely to head for a competitor or abandon a purchase if they can't find the information they need. 

Therefore, websites need to provide this support at the point where customers need it. This may mean a pro-active live chat, as employed by Schuh in the example below, FAQs, or a prominent contact number with real people answering it. 

According to the survey, the key reasons for abandoning online purchases are unexpected delivery costs (70%) and lack of information about the product, service or delivery (56%). These are key pieces of information, yet some sites seem to hide these from customers. 

Other reasons for abandonment were connected to customer service, such as  wanting to ask a question / not finding the answer (37%) and difficulty of getting any help on the website (30%). 

Customer expectations

83% of shoppers surveyed said they needed some form of support during their online journey. This is a particular issue for 'dependent' shoppers, those with limited experience of online shopping, where this increases to 90%.

While shoppers say they ned help, they aren't too persistant in accessing it: 

  • Half of online shoppers (51%) will either try once or give up immediately when seeking help before an online purchase.
  • This is particularly the case in Germany (57%), the UK (55%) and Australia (54%), dropping to 36% in Italy. 
  • If they need help post-purchase, shoppers are prepared to persist to get their issue resolved, 76% trying at least twice.

They also expect to receive support quickly. 71% expect some assistance within five minutes. If they don't get it 48% will abandon the site. This figure increases to 58% for UK respondents - we're clearly a more impatient bunch. 

What makes a great online experience? 

The best online retailers are realising that, product and price considerations aside, a great customer experience is a key differentiator. 

At the moment, it seems that the high street is outperforming the web in this respect, with 77% saying they are generally satisfied with customer service in-store, compared to 67% online.

Getting the issue resolved quickly is the most important thing for respondents, but also key is to deal with problems in a single interaction (56%), as this saves customers the kind of frustration which leads them to competitors.

How do customers want to be helped? 

Despite the potential for poor experiences in call centre queues, the telephone is the most popular source of help (61%), closely followed by email (60%). 

Of course, it's one thing offering these customer service channels, but the quality of service is all important. For example, while 60% of respondents appreciate email, retailers are often very slow to respond to queries. 

Summary of the stats

Graham Charlton

Published 30 January, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (3)


Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Don't know what questions they asked in this survey - but the responses seem bizarre for online transactions.

"83% of shoppers surveyed said they needed some form of support during their online journey"

Hard to believe that people meant 'human support'.
It must mean help pages, etc online surely ?

over 3 years ago


Tanielle Lobo

Thanks Graham, The stats you have shared from the survey are a helpful insight into the demands and expectations that online customers have and more importantly highlights crucial elements that websites cannot afford to ignore these days.

I am not surprised with the high abandoning rate for unexpected delivery costs specially when time the frame for delivery can take longer than 7 days. On the topic of hidden pieces of information I would also like to add VAT exclusions and high card surcharges.

over 3 years ago



Interesting article, quite fascinating that in an age where many consumers are increasingly using online methods as their point of purchase to find that that in fact many hark back to the days of more personal customer service.

I also think it's interesting that 'unexpected delivery costs' is the major reason for abandoning an online purchase compared to seemingly more obvious factors like trust and navigation. I recently came across a site that quite nicely gets round the unexpected delivery costs issue; whodeliversfree.co.uk lists online stores in the UK that offer free delivery.

over 3 years ago

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