As high street shops close, retailers also fail to control online customer churn


This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: As high street shops close, retailers also fail to control online customer churn.

A recent survey of 500 retailers sponsored by Eggplant, the digital experience specialist, revealed the pressures facing online digital teams in advance of busy retail season. 

While 92% of digital teams are focused on business outcomes and an omnichannel experience that delights, 60% fail to measure customer churn - even though around one in three (30%) have an average drop off rate of 50% or more on online properties.

This follows recent reports that nearly 3,000 shops shut on UK high streets in the first half of this year and in July the proportion of all shops that are empty reached 10.3%, its highest level since January 2015.

The survey, carried out among 500 digital and IT teams in the retail sector across both the US and UK, revealed that organizations are under pressure as they release an increasing number of digital products and apps, an average increase of 20% over last year,

The relentless pace is set to continue for the next couple of years. In the US, 46% release over 11 products or apps per year (compared with only 30% in the UK), with 95% stating this is an increase from last year and 87% believe this trend will increase in 2020 (compared with only 75% in the UK). An additional pressure point comes when it comes to skills, with one in five organizations lacking testers to ensure they deliver an omnichannel experience which delights customers.

Lack of adequate skills no doubt is a reason for online retailers to turn to automation technologies, with over 70% of retailers deploying AI to test software and applications. Organizations are also deploying technologies such as; live chat (46%), native mobile apps (46%), and front-end web technologies (45%), which are only expected to play a bigger role moving forward. Over a third of retailers (34%) are also looking to incorporate AI to improve the digital experience for customers. When it comes to the scale of the digital experience, 35% of organizations are maintaining five or more digital channels, and 72% measuring three or more channels.

On the positive side, US and UK businesses are now recognizing the importance of business outcomes and the customer experience, with 92% of respondents measuring the user experience via business outcomes such as customer growth (74%), company growth (71%) and revenue growth (65%). Those measuring customer churn believe drop off rates are due to site navigation (51%), site functionality (48%), and site performance (47%). 

Dr John Bates, CEO of Eggplant commented: “It’s great news to see organizations focusing on customer satisfaction and business outcomes when it comes to their digital experience. However, it’s concerning to see that one in three customers are still falling away due to user experience issues.” 

“With the ongoing trend from bricks to clicks and mortar, the growth of online products and services, organizations are under tremendous pressure in advance of events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The traditional high street retailers have to grasp with the enormous task of transforming their businesses to digital experiences. It’s no surprise they are turning to AI and new technologies to deliver an omnichannel experience that drives business growth and delights customers.”

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