UK online shoppers are increasingly unforgiving when they encounter problems with retailers' websites.
Of the 90% of online shoppers who experienced problems in the past year, 49% abandoned their transaction, according to a survey into online consumer behaviour conducted by Harris Interactive for software firm Tealeaf.
This is an increase of 12 percentage points on the 2007 survey, in which 37% of respondents said they had abandoned transactions after encountering website problems.
The annual survey, based on responses from more than 2,000 UK consumers, revealed a buoyant e-commerce sector, with shoppers spending an estimated £26.5bn-plus online in the first six months of 2008 - up 38% on 2007.
The Tealeaf survey also found a general preference for conducting business online (52%), surpassing the preference for conducting business in person (41%). This preference for online transactions was up by more than 10 percentage points on last year.
Expectations for online experience were high. The survey found that 87% of web shoppers believed there was no reason why an online transaction could not be completed first time, and 90% of those who had conducted an online transaction in the past year expected the same, or better levels of customer service online as they receive offline.
"The effect of online issues is far reaching. Customers are operating in a digital age where they have a number of options to quickly make their thoughts known about a company. The ramifications of this can be huge," said Max Blumberg, customer management strategist at the University of London and a corporate psychologist.
"Online businesses need to make every effort to streamline and improve the experience of their visitors. The reward will be increased return on investment, improved brand perception, and repeat business," he said.