Picture: 123RF/YAZAYO
Picture: 123RF/YAZAYO

Getting the consumer experience right is a challenge for many online retailers. A study evaluating the consumer experience of online shoppers has highlighted the challenges that face online retailers, including ensuring sufficient stock, transaction and delivery issues, and unclear refund practices.

The study, conducted by research and insights company BMi Research in 2020, surveyed six online e-commerce stores with each store evaluated by 10 experienced online mystery shoppers. The study forms part of the company’s launch of an online customer experience solution that measures and provides insights to help companies improve their customers’ online shopping experience.

BMi Research’s CX Online tool measures the overall experience from the perspective of the online customer, including the online shopping experience, the transaction process and the delivery experience, allowing retailers to adapt their offering to ensure an optimal customer experience.

“Same-day delivery is key to remaining competitive in the online shopping space,” says Jenni-Ruth Coggin, GM for consumer behaviour and business insights at BMi Research. “To be successful, online platforms need to meet the expectations of customers. Consumers who have a disappointing online experience tend not to give those retailers or brands a second chance.”

She adds that when it comes to online shopping, first experiences count. Registration should be as simple as possible both to lower the barrier to entry and to make the barrier lower than the next competitor. Websites should have visual appeal and be engaging and user-friendly. Promotional offers should be easy to find – and promotional items should be in stock. Online shopping sites need to communicate their payment options and order confirmations clearly.

Trust in the online shopping experience is built or lost at the point of delivery, says Coggin. This appears to be an area where local online retailers still have work to do. The study revealed that online delivery booking systems are weak, with just over a third of respondents not receiving their delivery at the arranged date and time, while 20% did not receive the correct items they had ordered. There also appears to be confusion over the refund process for products missing from the order. Ultimately, only 50% of shoppers found the overall delivery experience to be excellent.

According to Dean McElwee, integrated commercial lead, e-commerce, for Europe at The Kellogg Company, speed is of the essence when it comes to online shopping. “The customer wants to get the product as soon as possible, so the whole online process needs to be speeded up,” he says.

McElwee, an e-commerce expert with more than 18 years of experience across emerging and developed markets across multiple channels, was the guest speaker at the launch of CX Online.

“Succeeding in the online space is very different to succeeding in the offline space,” he said. “The reality is that online shopping utilises different spaces and has different constraints to an offline shopping environment. Not only does it have eyeball constraints, given that search narrows the number of items seen, it has resource constraints, and it has size relativity constraints.”

Online, he concluded, is significantly more complex than anticipated, requiring businesses to get all three components right: convenience, price and speed of delivery.

The big take-out:

Trust in the online shopping experience is built or lost at the point of delivery.

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