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WooCommerce unpaid order cancelled – time limit reached

Published Categorized as Ecommerce Stores

So why does WooCommerce cancel orders if the order wasn’t actually placed? This is due to some advanced WooCommerce stock management functionality that is designed to prevent you from over-selling your products on WooCommerce.

WooCommerce will automatically update the status of stock in your store when you enable “stock management” within the WooCommerce settings. This is highly advised and can be found under “WooCommerce > Settings > Products > Inventory” – see screenshot below.

But this isn’t the problem – so don’t disable the “Manage Stock” functionality

Stock Management Setting WooCommerce

The setting that causes the “unpaid order cancelled – time limit reached” error is the “Hold stock (minutes)” setting.

So what does this do? Exactly what it says on the tin… or in the WooCommerce settings dashboard:

“Hold products (for unpaid orders) for X minutes. When limit is reached, the pending order is cancelled. Leave blank to disable”

This might leave you with the question;

Under what circumstances are orders placed, but left unpaid? (thus are in the “pending order” status within WooCommerce)

The Answer:

In particular, when using the PayPal payment gateway plugins with WooCommerce the system will process orders into the “pending order” status when the user clicks to pay with PayPal…

Then, the order can remain unpaid in a few circumstances:

  1. Payment fails through PayPal
  2. PayPal fails to load and the user is unable to complete the transaction
  3. The user navigates back to the store to add further products to their basket and doesn’t complete the purchase within the set time period
  4. The user simply doesn’t complete the purchase within the set time period after clicking “pay with PayPal”
  5. You have admins performing testing on your site and this is completely normal behaviour

Reason number 5 is pretty common.

When updates are being performed, the website manager should really be testing checkout functionality and payment buttons. As a result, it’s likely you’ll get a few of these warnings in quick succession. Don’t panic! Speak to your website manager and clarify whether it was them.

Should I remove the Holding Stock figure and disable this WooCommerce functionality?

Some other guides would suggest you just “switch off the Hold Stock functionality”

In principle, this does prevent you from getting the “unpaid order cancelled – time limit reached” warning in WooCommerce…

But that’s the equivalent of taking the warning light out of an alarm because it keeps going off!

Listen to the alarm!

If people are abandoning the cart because of the payment method you’re offering this could be fantastic opportunity for you to improve the conversion rate on your eCommerce store. Without this warning, you won’t actually know whether people are abandoning after clicking “pay with PayPal”

For more on configuring WooCommerce settings, see the official WooCommerce Docs here.

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By Ashley Pearce

I'm the founder of Future State Media, a "small-on-purpose" creator-focused SEO agency skilled in helping creators systematically generate traffic, build audiences and maximise their monetisation whilst staying true to their brand.