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Battling Basket Abandonment: Mastering Delivery Choice & Convenience


10 Minute Read




Our report (produced in partnership with GFS) highlights key opportunities for businesses in 2023 to adapt their delivery options to reduce basket abandonment during online shopping and what factors are most important to consumers.

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What can you get from this report?

  • A deeper understanding of consumer expectations when it comes to delivery

  • Consumer opinons on delivery split by different factors

  • Strategies to reduce online basket abandonment 

  • Strategies to improve overall delivery system

  • Top delivery options for consumers

  • Cost of unsuitable delivery options on retail

  • An understanding of the pain points for consumers throughout the delivery experience



  • Introduction

  • Section one: Unpacking Basket Abandonment

  • Section two: The Cost of Failing to Deliver

  • Section three: 5 Strategies for Customer-First e-Commerce Delivery

  • Summary: Key Takeaways

  • Conclusion



In this report, we explore the critical role that delivery plays, as brands strive to create outstanding shopper experiences within a frictionless customer journey.

In today's hyper-competitive retail landscape, attracting and retaining customers is an immense challenge – particularly with the current economic backdrop. Squeezed incomes have led to more considered purchasing decisions, resulting in a resurgence of physical shopping as consumers prioritise convenience and genuine value-for-money. In this landscape of fragile customer loyalty, the appeal of online shopping is being put to the test. Consumers expect a positive, quick, and hassle-free online shopping experience, encompassing reliable delivery services and prompt returns, and have become intolerant of delays or unnecessary obstacles along the customer journey. For many retailers, meeting these expectations will be the difference between success or failure.

This report explores what customers expect from their delivery experiences and how retailers can meet the constantly shifting needs of shoppers. It offers a comprehensive and data-driven analysis of the challenges and opportunities regarding delivery, providing brands with actionable strategies to improve customer choice and convenience. The report is aimed at retail industry leaders (and related-industry professionals) to help better deliver seamless delivery experiences, and importantly, reduce online basket abandonment.


Section One: Unpacking Basket Abandonment

"Everything, everywhere, all at once" – elevated customer expectations in the digital age

Consumer expectations are higher than ever before. Shoppers unconsciously navigate between digital and physical channels, leveraging the latest technologies on the path of least resistance towards the products they desire. The pandemic-induced digital shift led to significant investment in this space, expanding customer choice across every stage of the customer journey. 

Indeed, 80% of UK consumers frequently rely on both physical and digital channels for the same purchase, resulting in increasingly complex, dynamic customer journeys as shoppers pursue the most rewarding experience that suits their personal preferences - whether online, offline or a blend of both.

In this new landscape, where customer journeys are complex and loyalty is fragile, retailers must engineer a seamless, reliable, and frictionless shopping experience. This research shows that delivery choice and convenience is a crucial thread underpinning customer satisfaction, with the potential to ‘make or break’ customer journeys.


Fig 1: Delivery choice can ‘make or break’ the customer journey

Battling basket abandonment



Delivery Experience Critical Across Entire Customer Journey

Our research found that 81% of consumers consider delivery options integral to their decision to shop with a non-food retailer.

The influence of online delivery on consumer decision-making starts well before the checkout. In fact, one in three consumers requires knowledge of a retailer's delivery and return options before they consider adding items to their online basket.

Indeed, information about delivery options holds near equal importance to shoppers at the pre-purchase consideration stage as it does the post-purchase and final mile as consumers weigh up their options.

Therefore, it’s crucial for retailers to be transparent and effectively communicate delivery and returns information to customers early in the buying journey. In doing so, delivery can be leveraged as a powerful customer acquisition tool, helping to attract, convert and retain shoppers.

At checkout, delivery options play a crucial role in either facilitating seamless transactions or causing friction that leads to abandonment. Customers expect convenient and flexible choices that align with their individual needs at the time of purchase.

Post-purchase, the delivery experience is pivotal for customer satisfaction and loyalty. Providing estimated or guaranteed delivery times, transparent communication, timely updates, tracking, and reliable performance are crucial in building trust and encouraging repeat business.



Delivery Disconnect: Retailer Perceptions vs. Customer Realities

Retailers unequivocally recognise the importance of offering customers a compelling delivery proposition.

More than 95% of retailers think delivery options are a deciding factor in consumers’ decision to shop with them. In fact, three in five (61%) retailers consider delivery and return options to be as important to customers as the product itself, even overriding considerations such as price or quality of the product if their needs are not met, leading customers to choose to shop elsewhere.

However, the research highlights a perception gap between what businesses think about their delivery offerings versus what online shoppers actually want. For instance, 83% of retailers surveyed believe that they offer a wide range of delivery options that meet customer needs, but less than half (48%) of consumers agree with this statement.


Fig 3: Gap between retailers and consumers’ perceptions of the delivery experience

Battling Basket Abandonment

Source: GFS, Retail Economics


The True Cost of Basket Abandonment

£31.5 billion left at checkout as shoppers turned off by poor delivery options

Despite significant investments in enhancing digital and supply chain capabilities since the pandemic, online basket abandonment remains a constant battle for retailers, with delivery-related friction often being the root cause.

One in four (24.8%) attempted online purchases are abandoned by UK shoppers due to a lack of preferred delivery options at the checkout.

Retail Economics modelling shows that online basket abandonment caused by delivery issues costs retailers an average of £605 million per week, as shoppers abort the transaction and seek out competitors who can provide a more seamless delivery experience that fulfils their needs this translates to a staggering £31.5 billion in potential sales which are left at checkout over the course of a year due to multiple delivery-related factors.

Customers' lives are unpredictable and dynamic, which directly affects their delivery needs and behaviours. As such, shoppers require delivery options that cater to their ever-changing circumstances. They expect flexibility, affordability, and timely delivery options, and retailers that fail to meet these expectations run the risk of losing them to competitors offering greater choice and convenience.

In short, by providing a more comprehensive range of delivery options, retailers increase the likelihood of customers converting – and not ‘dropping out’ at the last hurdle.


Younger shoppers more likely to abandon baskets due to delivery


Shoppers aged under 45 (i.e. Gen Zs and Millennials) have the highest basket abandonment rates. They give up on a third of their intended online purchases due to delivery issues (Fig. 5). This suggests younger customers have higher expectations for delivery options than older age groups and are more likely to seek out alternatives if unsatisfied.


Fig 5: Digital natives (under 45s) most likely to abandon baskets

Battling basket abandonment

Source: GFS, Retail Economics



battling basket abandonment



Section Two: The Cost of Failing to Deliver


This section focuses on three key themes to support retailers in shaping their delivery strategies. We explore the complexities of consumer behaviour and delivery personas, emphasize the significance of delivery choice, and highlight post-purchase delivery pain points and the importance of hassle-free returns to enhance the overall customer experience.

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Theme 1 - Consumer Complexity: Understanding shifting delivery personas/priorities

Shopper Delivery Personas

Our analysis of consumer delivery preferences has revealed four distinct archetypes that shape the way shoppers behave when it comes to choosing online delivery options.

Fig 6: Four distinct consumer cohorts emerge for delivery preferences

Battling basket abandonment

Source: GFS, Retail Economics


In reality, customer journeys are unique and complex, and shoppers' delivery priorities are constantly evolving, influenced by individual circumstances such as age, affluence, shopping mission, retail products, price points, and more.


As explored in this section of the report, understanding and catering to these diverse delivery behaviours and preferences is critical for reducing basket abandonment rates and driving customer conversion and retention.


Fig 7: 1/3 of Gen Z prioritise delivery cost

Battling basket abandonment

Source: GFS, Retail Economics


Other factors analysed include:

  • Delivery priorties by affluence

  • Delivery priorities by shopper mission


Theme 2 - Demystifying the Myth of Free Delivery: Choice Often Trumps Cost

Prioritising free delivery can lead to significant margin erosion - putting strain on a retailers’ bottom line. In an increasingly competitive online market where cost pressures continue to mount, the race to the bottom on pricing can also compromise the quality of the delivery experience that customers expect. This is particularly relevant today where many online retailers struggle to stand out from the crowd while maintaining profitability.

What’s more, free delivery is not seen as a must-have option by consumers. Three in four shoppers (74%) say they would be willing to shop with a retailer who offers a wide range of delivery options – including some that are not free. Nearly a third of respondents (29%) are ‘extremely likely’ to shop with such a retailer.


Fig 8: Consumers prioritise choice – the generational divide

Battling basket abandonment

Source: GFS, Retail Economics


Retailers' Delivery Options fall short of Consumer Expectations

The current delivery options offered by many online retailers are somewhat limited considering consumers’ growing expectations and vast possibilities in today’s delivery landscape.

Two third of consumers (66%) would like to see retailers offer a better choice of delivery options at online checkouts.

To truly meet the needs of shoppers, retailers must go beyond offering the bare minimum and not restrict delivery choices. By providing premium and convenient delivery options, retailers have clear opportunities to differentiate themselves from the competition and empower customers through greater choice, with next-day and nominated delivery among the most desirable options for customers


Other areas analysed in 'Demystifying the Myth of Free Delivery' include:

  • Barriers to offering more delivery choice and convenience
  • Missed oppurtunities: Consumers willing to pay for premium delivery


And the third theme of Section two is 'Post-Purchase: Delivery Pain Points and Hassle-Free Returns' - Download the report now to access these insights



battling basket abandonment


Section Three: 5 Strategies for Customer-First e-Commerce Delivery

The goal of reducing basket abandonment rates and improving the overall delivery experience requires retailers to adopt a multi-faceted approach that addresses several key themes.

In this section, the research explores the five strategies that retailers can use to achieve these goals:

1. Multicarrier partnerships to empower choice

2. Rule of five to cover all bases

3. Reliability is non-negotiable

4. Technology as an enabler, not an impediment

5. Inbound-Outbound warrants equal treatment



10 Key Insights:

1. Online basket abandonment due to checkout delivery frustrations leads to £31.5 billion in ‘lost’ sales for UK retailers each year.

2. 24.8% of attempted online purchases are abandoned by UK shoppers due to delivery-related issues.

3. Gen Z’s and Millennials abandon a third of their intended online purchases, more than twice the proportion of shoppers aged over 45.

4. Top three reasons for basket abandonment include: (1) poor delivery choice (e.g. unpopular courier, inability to choose location or preferred day/time); (2) high delivery fees; (3) slow delivery speeds.

5. 83% of retailers believe that they offer a wide range of delivery options that meet customer needs, but less than half (48%) of consumers agree with this statement.

6. UK retailers offer around three delivery options at the checkout, but five is the ideal benchmark to meet the needs of today’s online shoppers who value choice and convenience.

7. Three in five retail businesses offer express or next-day delivery services, and less than half of retailers provide nominated delivery (39%) or parcel pick up points (25%).

8. Most consumers (78%), including 94% of Millennials, are willing to pay extra for services such as same-day, next-day or nominated delivery.

9. Parcels left in insecure locations, poor packaging and difficulties returning items are the top three pain points in the delivery experience for consumers.

10. One in two UK shoppers would be willing to pay a small fee for a quick, hassle-free returns experience.




Consumers live busy and unpredictable lives. In today’s fast-paced society, shoppers’ circumstances can change rapidly, needs quickly shift, and many industry trends are short lived. In this context, the online shopping experience – including delivery – must accommodate dynamic lifestyles where offering choice, flexibility, and convenience is critical to winning and retaining customers. Any unnecessary friction within the customer journey, or failure to meet expectations, can quickly result in abandoned purchases, lost revenue, and dissatisfied customers.

The stakes are high. Our research reveals that UK retailers lose a staggering £31.5 billion in sales each year due to basket abandonment resulting from delivery-related issues.


The checkout process presents numerous obstacles for shoppers, from high delivery fees to slow delivery speeds, but the most critical issue is the lack of choice. One in four attempted online purchases are aborted by UK shoppers due to inadequate delivery options, rising to as a high as a third for shoppers under 45 – the lucrative digital native demographic.

To reduce basket abandonment rates and meet ever-changing consumer demands, retailers need to adapt their delivery strategies to offer a wider range of options. Our research shows that the ideal benchmark to satisfy regular online shoppers is a minimum of five delivery options, yet most retailers fall short of this. Meeting this benchmark is essential to cater to a variety of needs and budgets, align with different shopper missions, and resonate with distinct customer personas.

By expanding choice at the checkout and enhancing the overall delivery experience throughout the customer journey, retailers can empower consumers to shop ‘on their terms’, cultivating a loyal customer base and dramatically lower the risk of basket abandonment.


The path to success lies in multicarrier partnerships, treating outbound and inbound deliveries equally, ensuring delivery reliability, leveraging technology as an enabler, and considering returns as an integral part of the customer journey. The future of online delivery belongs to those who successfully implement these strategies and take immediate action. There is too much at stake to delay—now is the time to seize the opportunity and thrive in the digitally-powered, omnichannel age.


battling basket abandonment

We hope you found this article interesting. For more insights and industry analysis be sure to connect with us.


About this report

This "Battling Basket Abandonment" report is published by Retail Economics in partnership with GFS.

The insights and data in this report are key for businesses operating with an online store in order to understand what consumers look for in delivery options when shopping online to reduce basket abandonment due to unfavourable delivery options, and how key demographics' opinions differ, helping businesses to adapt their delivery options for their specific consumer base.


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