3 Ways Online Retailers Can Deliver on Shopper Expectations
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index's latest report, customer satisfaction has improved for a third consecutive year for retailers. Unfortunately, this doesn't hold true for online retailers. While the retail sector overall gained 1.7 percent in customer satisfaction, this growth was attributed to higher customer satisfaction levels in specialty retail stores, supermarkets, drug stores and gasoline service stations.
However, online retailers experienced significant drops in customer satisfaction levels, down close to 5 percent — the sector's lowest score since 2001. Online retailers are grappling with serious customer satisfaction issues and complaints about poor customer service and experience. This is especially true for smaller sites, including pure-play e-commerce retailers and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers’ online counterparts.
This past holiday season was unfavorable for many online retailers that struggled to deliver orders in time for Christmas, provided subpar customer support, faced inventory and out-of-stock issues, and, at times, even delivered the wrong product. Website functionality also fell short as a large portion of online retailers’ shopping experiences consisted of outdated websites with limited functionality, slow load times and insufficient product details. This caused frustration and disappointment among consumers, driving them to shop at brick-and-mortar retailers.
Steps Online Retailers Can Take to Improve Customer Experience
Online retailers need to take action to enhance customer satisfaction. Here are three steps e-merchants can take to solve some of the most common online shopping experience mishaps:
1. Offer flexible delivery options. Restricted delivery options are often a deal breaker for online shoppers. For omnichannel retailers, consumers want flexibility to buy online and pick up in-store. And online shoppers want fast, free shipping and returns. Retailers will need to offer these features to stay competitive with big players like Amazon.com. The key is making online shopping convenient and tailored to consumers.
2. Provide a seamless experience across channels. It's critical for online retailers to offer customers a consistent brand experience across every channel. This goes for both the look and feel of the website as well as its features and functionality. Customers should be able to browse on their mobile device and purchase online without missing a beat.