UK consumers seek better online engagement

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From online-only e-tailers to traditional bricks and mortar stores that have embraced the ecommerce boom, the last few years have seen the popularity of online shopping continuously rise. Yet, despite the obvious benefits of having an online presence, such as lower costs, a wider reach and being able to offer a more extensive product range, many retailers also recognise that online can come with significant challenges.

For the majority of retailers the main challenge is one of engagement: "How can we keep our customers engaged throughout their online journeys, from discovery, through to checkout?"

Yet, a recent survey of over 1,000 UK consumers by Optimizely, the experience optimisation platform, highlights that this is a challenge not isolated to retailers. According to the research, consumers have been left desiring better engagement with their preferred brands across travel, banking and entertainment industries with many feeling unsatisfied at the final stage of their ecommerce journey.

The findings of the survey showed that more than 80% of respondents have put something in their online shopping basket and then not completed the purchase. Reasons for this include unexpected shipping costs (53%) and the need to create an account or register to complete the purchase (27%). Evidently, this indicates the need for retailers to not only be more transparent from the start of the customer journey, but to also test and optimise the entire customer journey and checkout process in order to offer a quick and seamless experience.

Without this, consumers are left feeling that they have been given a poor online experience, which can have devastating consequences, with over a third (35%) of respondents saying that they would become disloyal to the brand in question after just one bad experience. Furthermore, this reaction isn't always confined to the web, as 39% of respondents said it could also affect their likelihood of continuing to buy from that brand or retailer in-store.

Other key findings include:

  • UK consumers spend an average of £70.78 online per month with 35% of consumers shopping online weekly
  • 74% of respondents would like brands to offer them a more personal experience online
  • 72% of respondents stated that the main reason for shopping online was convenience
  • Desktop/laptop is still the preferred device to use when researching, browsing and purchasing products online; however when it comes to using mobile and tablet, women are more inclined to use these methods than men
  • Consumers' main frustrations of a poor online shopping experience are: difficulty identifying the quality or size of the product (43%), poor payment processes (33%), bad website design (26%) and poor navigation processes (24%)
  • UK consumers believe that the food and drink industry offers the most personalised shopping experience and coincidentally they are most likely to shop online for these items, with 41% of respondents buying food or drink online

Marie Despringhere, UK Country Manager, Optimizely, comments, "It's clear that ecommerce businesses need to up their game when it comes to delivering an exceptional online shopping experience for their customers; if they don't, they risk losing these customers altogether.

The issue of basket abandonment also needs to be addressed, as falling short in the final stages of the customer journey quickly detracts from retailers achieving their ultimate goal: securing revenue. To get their consumers on side, retailers need to be transparent, with not only a clear path to purchase, but also ensure that the consumer is receiving the most optimal customer experience at every stage of the journey."

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