Consumers’ Biggest Pain Points With the Online Shopping Experience and How Retailers Can Improve on Those
Consumers today are looking for increasing convenience and a frictionless experience. As a result, their pain points are varied and are constantly changing — all driven by advances in technology; evolving shopping experiences online; and growing expectations around speed, convenience and delivery. Even the circumstances of their purchase now affect what frustrates them.
As an e-commerce business owner, it's vital to address these pain points to provide a smooth shopping experience for a consequently loyal customer base. In order to do so, you must put yourself in the shoes of your customers from time to time to provide the best possible experience free of all the typical pain points. From products being out of stock to inadequate customer support, there are multiple issues that the current retail shopping experience can aim to address.
Here's a list of some pain points that, when addressed, can create a pleasant shopping experience for customers:
- Shipping fees: This is by far the biggest direct pain point for consumers: high shipping fees. It's even worse when a high fee is discovered within the checkout pipeline. According to a RetailMeNot study, customers “hate paying shipping fees more than just about anything.” This is truer when these fees aren't clearly stated. Shoppers expect to know how much a product will cost when dealing with your e-commerce store, and this includes additional fees such as shipping and handling. If taxes are to be added, this also needs to be reflected before the customer enters the checkout pipeline.
- A bad search engine: Unlike shipping fees, which are a direct pain point, irrelevant search results are an indirect pain point. Moreover, if the search engine is ill configured, or if products lack details in the system, a good query may fail to reveal the product in search results, which can mean loss in revenue for retailers. It's imperative to design the website with the search engine in mind. This includes the way you define/articulate products in your system in order for search results to be optimized. Personalization is useful here because it means using what you know about the user to serve them relevant search results. Customers want to feel special; that’s why they love personalization. Personalization can also include push notifications, recommendations, suggestions, tips, discounts, special offers, etc.
- A slow website: It's more than just an inconvenience; slow websites kill conversions. Websites that take three-plus seconds to load lose almost half their visitors, and more will drop off if navigation between the pages is also slow. What's more, 79 percent of customers say they will not return to an online store with poor performance and loading speeds.
- Creating an account > tedious activity: We understand the value of having guests create an account, but nobody wants to fill out a lengthy questionnaire or remember their login credentials to yet another site. As a result, you must make the account creation process as quick and seamless as possible for the user, who ultimately just wants to make a purchase.
- Flexible and fast pickup and delivery options: As noted by search firm IDC, 59 percent of customers say they would shop elsewhere if retailers didn’t offer buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) options, while 49 percent would choose other retailers if curbside pickup wasn’t a choice. The result? To keep consumers happy and drive sustained sales, retailers need dynamic pickup and delivery options that are flexible enough to meet evolving needs. For example, offer various time slots for BOPIS or the option for scheduled delivery. Additionally, it's important to offer a variety of carrier options, and rates, to your customers in order to have something for those customers who don't mind waiting a little longer, but prefer to save on shipping. Therefore, it's imperative to choose a technology partner that can support complex and unique business scenarios like split shipment or timeslot management without platform customizations.
- Inadequate customer support: Customer support is an extremely important touchpoint for brands and consumers, and can often make or break customer-brand relationships. Therefore, it's important for brands to invest in creating a great customer support experience, making consumers feel valued and supported at every step of their e-commerce journey. A solid 86 percent state they would be willing to pay more for a “great” customer experience with reliable and available customer support. Furthermore, around 41 percent of customers prefer to contact a business via live chat vs. any other method, making enhanced and efficient customer support the way forward for retailers.
- Inventory management and visibility: Research shows that over 50 percent of customers engage with three to five channels during each journey they take toward making a purchase, making it easy to have inconsistent information across channels or lack of insight into stock, all of which can put off a consumer. Having a website convey precise inventory quantity by store is paramount. Retailers can benefit from choosing an order management system that provides a unified view of all inventory. You can go a step beyond allowing customers to set up back-in-stock alerts, provide an estimated timeline for back-in-stock items, show similar items, or offer a personalized list of recommendations based on purpose, taste and functionality.
- Lack of product information: No matter how attractive your product might look, customers require far more information than a single photograph to make a purchase decision. To help shoppers buy with confidence, you must ensure product descriptions are as transparent and informative as possible. At a minimum, consumers need to know what the product is, who it's for, and how it will benefit them. Ideally, you would have way more — e.g., an instruction manual, a long list of features, dimensions, videos, tutorials, etc. — to help consumers determine which product will be the right one for them. The bare minimum is good, but more is better.
If you're looking to scale your e-commerce business in the backdrop of long-term customer loyalty, establishing what customer pain points exist in your commerce ecosystem and how to fix them should be the first step. That said, it's important to realize that this won’t be a one-time fix, but rather a continuous endeavor to create an industry-leading customer experience. You should regularly monitor your website, brand as a whole, and customer sentiment towards your brand, to ensure that you're providing a user-friendly e-commerce experience. That way, you’ll have more happy customers and fewer abandoned carts.
Frank Kouretas is chief product officer and Jean-Walter Guillery is director of product, omnichannel, both at Orckestra (powered by mdf commerce).
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As Chief Product Officer, Frank leads product strategy and product management, driving the next wave of commerce innovation and beautifully simple shopping experiences.
Frank is passionate about building and marketing innovative technology products, and brings over 15 years of leadership experience in product development, product management and marketing.
Prior to joining Orckestra, Frank was VP of Products and Marketing at Radialpoint where he led the development of innovative customer experience products used by some of the world’s leading service providers to support millions of customers.
As a director of product at Orckestra (powered by mdf commerce), Jean-Walter leads product teams responsible for innovative ecommerce solutions in the OMS and omnichannel commerce space, as well as DevOps and release automation. For the past 10 years, Jean-Walter has been passionately developing elegant and innovative ecommerce products and solutions, focusing on completeness, quality, usability and making sure users are fully satisfied.