Few industries have enjoyed a boom like the e-commerce industry has in recent years. And with 47% of consumers listing their favorite place to shop as the internet, and as experts predict e-retail sales to approach $370 billion in the U.S. by 2017, the industry is undoubtedly here to stay.

More and more shops are trying to leverage this vertical in hopes of attracting and landing a larger consumer base. As such, it’s vital to understand the mentality of e-shoppers to see what drives their purchasing decisions and what causes them to leave in droves.

So whether you’re a franchised e-retailer, an Etsy crafts seller or an interested consumer, check out what the following studies found about e-shoppers to see how retailers can cater to this growing consumer segment.

The E-Commerce Market at a Glance

The e-commerce market has been on a continuous rise since its birth. In fact, between 2002 and 2012, retail e-commerce sales had quadrupled, growing from around $40 billion to $160 billion in just a decade, and this number is expected to more than double in just 5 years.

Miva Merchant, an e-commerce hosting service and software company, found that 85% of global internet users have made a purchase online, and Statista.com found that some retail segments (e.g. furniture, clothing, electronics, books, magazines, music and videos) make at least three-quarters of their sales online.

There’s no question there’s a lot of money in e-commerce, but that doesn’t mean retail success comes easy for everyone. What really turns e-shoppers off, and what converts them to e-buyers? Let’s find out.

What Makes E-Shoppers Leave Your Store?

There’s no question that consumers flock to e-stores to do their shopping, but how do you turn these shoppers into buyers, or perhaps more importantly, how to you keep these shoppers from leaving your store for another?

Basic site functionality obviously plays a role in keeping shoppers on your site, as 57% of consumers are likely to bounce to another site after waiting for more than 3 seconds for pages to load. Of these potential buyers, 80% will never return to your site. Another aspect of your site to think about is the number of steps required to make a purchase. The average length of checkout processes among the top 100 e-commerce sites is 5.06 steps, so if your checkout takes longer than that, you’re likely losing many customers to sites with more efficient navigation.

But beyond that, converting shoppers to buyers isn’t always easy for e-retailers. A recent study found that, on average, 67.4% of shoppers will abandon an online shopping cart before making a purchase. These “abandoners” are categorized into 3 types:

  1. “Vague Customers” (those who need more info before making a purchase): 42%
  2. “Cost Conscious” (those who want to shop for better prices first): 42%
  3. “Window Shoppers” (those who never planned on making a purchase): 16%

Veteran retailers will tell you that trying to convert window shoppers is always in vain, but there are many e-commerce practices that can make converting “Cost-Conscious” and “Vague” customers a bit easier than a brick-and-mortar store. Providing as much product info as possible on your pages—including many product shots, consumer reviews, demo videos, etc.—lowers the chances of consumers leaving your site for another that offers what they’re looking for. You can also offer price matching, or you can list competitors’ prices for your cost-conscious customers. Doing your customers’ research for them will keep them on your site for longer, build trust and hopefully convince them to make a purchase.

When asked why these shoppers abandoned their carts, the top reasons cited were:

  1. Hidden charges at checkout: 41%
  2. Having to register before buying: 29%
  3. Unclear delivery details: 11%
  4. Lengthy checkout process: 10%
  5. No phone number on site: 8%

Most of these issues can be taken care of simply by being transparent during the checkout process. There are still many consumers who are distrustful of websites; as such, one of the toughest aspects of conducting an online business is gaining your users’ trust, and hidden costs and unclear info does nothing to instill trust in your brand.

Be specific and upfront with all types of charges and with shipping timelines, and (this should go without saying) avoid pinning hidden costs to your shoppers’ purchases. Clearly list all contact info for your customer service department at every step of the checkout process. And instead of requiring users to sign up with your site before a purchase, offer an optional box they can check to become a registered user privy to discounts. All these steps will go a long way to building trust and converting shoppers.

What Makes E-Shoppers Buy Your Goods?

While having a digital store is vital to landing the 47% of consumers who frequent e-retailers, an effective e-commerce strategy goes beyond simply setting up a digital storefront. As the studies show, having a greater online presence and a shopping experience that integrates all of your marketing channels will undoubtedly boost your online presence and improve your shopping experience, hopefully encouraging consumers to keep coming back.

According to a RetailEMall.com study, 85% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. Cisco found that 52% of consumers use reviews straight from retailers’ sites, while nearly a quarter flocked to social media for advice. While a few negative reviews might leave retailers cursing online advice-givers, the access to reviewers provided by the internet is actually a good thing for brands.

Whereas your typical word-of-mouth review is usually unchangeable, those found online are the opposite. Access to reviewers allows you to try and change the minds of unhappy shoppers. By reaching out to these detractors, you can try to alleviate issues, which may encourage them to change their reviews. Even if it didn’t work out and nothing really changed, at the very least, you should be able to get a good review on customer service.

Many studies also show the importance that visuals play in sales, and for e-commerce in particular, multiple product shots and video demos are the drivers of retail sales.

In fact, 92.6% of consumers say visuals are the top influential factor affecting purchase decisions. When you add the fact that consumers consider a product for only about 90 seconds before making a purchase, it’s easy to see why images are so important. Furthermore, the RetailEMall.com study found that offering multiple product views and other alternative images lead to 58% more web sales.

The same study found that 38% of consumers bought a product after being influenced by a video and that 44% will purchase more products on sites that provide video for product information. In addition to sales, video also increases engagement by your users: 52% will stay longer on retail sites that offer product videos, and 44% will return to a site because of them.


Applying these best practices to your e-commerce site should help increase your market reach as well as your sales. The main thing to consider when planning your e-commerce model is the customer experience. Offer your customers easy access to your product, its information and your customer service department to keep them on your site, as studies show the more time spent on site, the more conversions from users to buyers.

Beyond that, reach out to your customers with surveys to see their opinions of your site. And for shoppers who stuck through this article for this long, what are some tips you can offer retailers to improve your shopping experience?


CNBC: “New Top Choice for Shoppers: Online Overtakes Brick-and-Mortar”

Media Bistro: “Social Media and the Growth of E-Commerce”

Statista: “E-Commerce in the United States”

Miva Merchant: “What Is E-Commerce?”

RetailEMall: “Consumer Psychology and E-Commerce Checkout”

Cisco: “Catch and Keep the Digital Shopper”