Practical Ecommerce

Online Shoppers Wait Two Days to Buy

The average online shopper delays making a purchase by almost two days after initially visiting a retail site, according to data from a leading Internet security company.

After monitoring the shopping behavior of 163 million consumers completing 2.52 million transactions, McAfee SECURE discovered that the average customer waited 33 hours and 54 minutes, or nearly two days, between first visiting a retail site and making a purchase. In 64 percent of the cases, the shopper waited at least one day to buy.

This seemingly cautious behavior, which McAfee calls “digital window shopping,” is really a somewhat normal shopping behavior wherein a potential customer loads items into a shopping cart and then leaves the retailer’s site in search of more information, price comparison data, or even information about the merchant to ensure that the transaction and any customer service will be handled well.

The topic of digital window-shopping came up during a Practical Ecommerce webinar, when McAfee Senior Research Analyst Shane Keats presented data from a recent white paper about the phenomenon and described what merchants could do to close more sales.

According to Keats, shoppers generally balked over cost, service, and safety concerns.

Cost Concerns

Some 46 percent of consumers surveyed in 2009 by PayPal and comScore, said that they did not complete an online transaction because the shipping charges were too high. Some 37 percent of that same group wanted to compare the prices and the shipping charges across more than one merchant, and 27 percent of those surveyed left the cart to look for a coupon code, Keats said in the webinar.

It may well be that these customers later returned and made the purchase, but addressing concerns during the checkout could convert window shoppers into immediate buyers.

To overcome cost concerns, merchants should:

  • Use dynamically generated shipping rates that provide the best possible rate data and consider offering shipping discounts based on order size. The discount offer should be included on the checkout page.
  • Include a list of popular coupon codes in the shopping cart.
  • Offer a price guarantee so that shoppers won’t feel the need to compare prices.

Service Challenges

Keats also said that some 24 percent of those surveyed left the shopping cart because they could not find their preferred payment method, while some 22 percent left because they were not sure how to ask a question or contact customer service.

These sorts of service objections are very easy to assuage:

  • Do your best to accept nearly every valid form of payment, including credit cards, electronic checks, PayPal, and Google Checkout, to name some. Getting the payment should not be the barrier to getting the sale.
  • Include customer service links and data on the checkout page. Be sure to include links that open in new tabs or windows when possible.

Security Concerns

Finally, Keats said that about 21 percent of shoppers left a shopping cart because they were concerned about the safety of their personal or credit card information.

This hurdle could be the most troublesome, since it implies that the retailer has not done a good enough job of assuring the customer that it is a legitimate and trustworthy business.

But even these concerns can be addressed.

  • Consider adding third party trust marks that provide an unbiased assurance that your site is safe and that your business and privacy policies match the industry’s best practices.
  • Add SSL verification to encrypt transactions and to free your site from hackers.
  • Have a well designed website, as nothing demonstrates professionalism and trustworthiness better than good site design.

Summing Up

Many potential consumers will leave your checkout page with items still sitting in the virtual checkout. Some of those customers are gone for good. Others might come back after getting more information. But in both cases, it would be better to convert those shoppers the first time you had them in your cart.

With the suggestions mentioned above you should see an improvement in your conversion rates. Be sure to measure the results of any changes you make.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. yang67 April 7, 2010 Reply

    Interesting findings. The price comparison shopping site,, had similar analysis from data collected in their site.

  2. Michael Stearns April 8, 2010 Reply

    Thanks for this information, Armando.

    This study is fascinating and your article provides some great actionable steps. The coupon code request at checkout is a great idea, and this can even be creatively turned into a bit of a game.

    I have seen data that trustmarks help build conversion, but I have not seen that when we study our own sites.

  3. Armando Roggio April 8, 2010 Reply

    Thanks Michael. Interesting that you have not seen it on your own sites. I did a test of [one of my sites]( and saw a significant boost.

  4. Louis Camassa April 9, 2010 Reply

    Great article Armando!

    Showing the final price (with shipping and promotions) on the cart page is a huge time saver for customers. Although, as a retailer, if it’s a new customer, and they do not proceed to the checkout page, you won’t have the opportunity to send a cart abandonment email (as you didn’t collect their email address yet).

    You reference; “Keats said that about 21 percent of shoppers left a shopping cart because they were concerned about the safety of their personal or credit card information.”

    Is your recommendation to secure the cart page? If 21% of shoppers are leaving the cart page because of security concerns, it seems that is the likely fix. I checked a few retailers (,, and and they are not yet securing their cart pages.

  5. Marv Conn April 13, 2010 Reply

    "Is your recommendation to secure the cart page?"

    I think it goes a bit further than that. It has been my experience that many shoppers can’t tell a secure page from an insecure page. They often determine the existence of an SSL certificate by the existence of a SSL company logo on the page rather than the lock symbol.

    I continue to get calls, as do other merchants I deal with, from customers asking, "Is your site secure?". I’m not sure if that is an actual question or just a verification of the existence of the business and a validity test of the phone number or if the customers are actually serious. Personally, I think calling a business and asking them if their website is secure equals fail. If it isn’t secure, I doubt an insecure merchant would admit it.

    I think that is why things like trustmarks work so well is because the customers can’t determine the sites security on their own and need a trustmark to do it for them. I also doubt the average customer can even explain what a trustmark is, as they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference or understand the difference between EV, high and low assurance SSL certificates.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘appearance’ of security is as important as actual security. If a online store doesn’t have some built in security trickle-down from their name, such as, then they better have the appearance of security on their website, meaning plenty of logos and symbols that make the customer ‘feel’ secure.

  6. Louis Camassa April 14, 2010 Reply


    Good points. Your right, customers are likely not to know what a trustmark is, or who Thawte, Verisign, and all the other SSL providers are. We add security badges to the site that mention 100% Secure, 256 Bit Encryption (this might not be clear enough).

    Marv-what do you recommend when it comes to badges?

  7. Marv Conn April 15, 2010 Reply

    As far as trust marks go, I think that McAfee and Comodo are good as everyone knows McAfee and the Comodo Hackersafe looks and sounds like something that would be trustworthy.

    Verisign is a bit more expensive, but is well trusted.

    For the price worried, I really love the Trustwave PCI compliance thing, which can be gotten fairly inexpensively and verifies PCI compliance, has a nice click to verify thing.

    The high assurance Comodo SSLs also have the floaty logo, which I find is very nice, customers seem to like to see it.