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Where are you losing online shoppers – and how can you keep them?


The idea that consumers are becoming less loyal is something of a misnomer. Yes, they have greater access to comparative information, and yes, their tolerance levels for poor customer service is at a record low, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll change brand allegiance at the drop of a hat.

In fact, a PwC survey released last year shows that online shoppers are more likely to stick with a brand they know and like – 15% only shop with one e-tailer, an 8% increase on the previous year, while the number of respondents who shop with 6 or more retailers, declined.

What does this mean for ecommerce? It’s good news if your online journey is optimised, as you’re more likely to gain a customer for life. However, it’s costly if your site isn’t.

There are myriad reasons why digital shoppers abandon purchases, but here are some of the most common:

  • Websites aren’t mobile-friendly (even Google has ganged up on mCommerce laggards with its most recent SEO algorithm update)
  • Slow load times
  • Poor images or product information
  • Forced to log in or create an account in order to make a purchase
  • Concerns over the website’s security
  • High delivery charges added at the checkout
  • Complex/demanding checkout process
  • Too few payment options

As these examples underline, online retailers can potentially lose a customer at any stage of the purchasing journey. Therefore, the challenge is to work out which points are causing the greatest drop off rates.

Thankfully, the wealth of analytics tools available enables ecommerce businesses to study in detail, the behaviours of online shoppers, to identify where and why conversions are being lost.

The likelihood is that there will be no single answer, as today’s consumer is incredibly diverse. This means retailers’ next challenge is to either implement or enhance their ecommerce platform to respond to these differing pain points.

For instance, adding review and ratings to products stops online shoppers wandering off to another site for endorsement; creating coupons specific to products prevents deal hunters seeking a voucher code on a third party site; building a mobile friendly website encourages customers to engage on multiple devices; and offering multiple payment and shipping options enables those customers to tailor services to their requirements, for optimum convenience.

Don’t forget about the back end, either. One of the key reasons that ecommerce companies lose custom is because the website is not fully integrated with operational systems. Linking essential information such as inventory availability to the front-end experience is absolutely vital – shoppers don’t want to enjoy a perfectly smooth journey to the checkout, only to find when they enter their details that the product is unavailable, or the shipping service they requested isn’t offered in their region.

The key to keeping online customers happy is actually fairly straightforward: give them what they want. In order to do this, retailers need an agile ecommerce solution capable of responding to each customer’s demands. As the PwC survey shows, the rewards for those who achieve this are rich and long lasting.

Tim Barton brings more than 30 years of leadership and consultancy experience in retail, working in environments of scale, high complexity and fast pace. Previously working with River Island, Boots, Ann Summers and Berry Brothers & Rudd, his extensive domain expertise lies in the operational implementation of complex business change programmes, business process improvement and retail technology.


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