For the ESeller going over web analytic reports, perhaps nothing is more frustrating than tracking all those sales that fell through somewhere between "put in shopping cart" and "submit order".

PayPal, the largest merchant account provider online, conducted a recent survey among online shoppers asking why they abandon a purchase mid-sale.

Would you like to guess the number one reason why?

Shipping charges!

- 43% surveyed said they had recently stopped a transaction due to sticker shock over the shipping charges.
- Sticker shock over the final tab was a major theme in the survey's findings, with 36% admitting sales flight when they saw the difference in the final tab, versus the initial price tags for goods selected.
- Slightly over one in four bailed because they wanted to comparison shop a little more.

Those are the big reasons for shopping cart interruptus. I think there is more to be learned from the lesser reasons cited.

- 16% said they drop out of the sale because they needed customer service and couldn't get through.
- Another 14% forgot their user names and/or passwords.

Lessons to be learned from this survey:

- Don't require shoppers to register to make a purchase. Resist the temptation to gather marketing data off every sale. It would be nice. But, making sales is even nicer.

- Live chat, calling a customer service representative, troubleshooting basic problems by a reading a FAQ can all be effective ways to guide customers through a transaction. But every customer has a different comfort level with each of those options. Offer as many customer service platforms, as possible.

- Be more up front about shipping and handling charges. Rather than offering a discount off the product or service; offer free shipping. Online customers take product discounts for granted in the online world. Clearly, they don't feel that way about shipping charges.

One last thought; remind your customers how much they're saving on gas driving to the mall to make the same purchase. These days it may be cheaper to pay for UPS ground than a couple of gallons of regular unleaded.