Online Shoppers Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Friday, November 20, 2009 | 5:38 PM

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More consumers are turning to the web to shop for and purchase products. As we head into the festive season online retail is expected to account for 20% of all Christmas sales this year [1]. Unfortunately many retail websites haven’t matched the increase in traffic with better site usability and speed. Recent research conducted by Forrester Consulting in the US found that a mere two seconds is the new threshold of an average online shopper’s patience with website loading times. While 40% of shoppers will wait no longer than three seconds before abandoning a retail or travel site [2].

More surprising perhaps than just how elusive online customer engagement has become is the fact that many pure play retailers, those with their bedrock firmly entrenched in the world of eCommerce, are now seen as lagging behind their multichannel counterparts in delivering good online performance. The eRetail Benchmark study conducted by eDigital Research identified traditional retailers as “consistently outperforming their pure play and catalogue rivals online, using multichannel technology and customer service expertise to their advantage” [3].

As reported by Internet Retailing, traditionalist retailer John Lewis was the study's top performing website followed by Marks & Spencer and Next with New Look moving into the top ten sites on account of its “best in class” shopping basket function [3]. The Retail Bulletin and specialist website testing company Sitemorse study of October’s top 50 Retail websites also confirmed similar findings. They noted the lack of pure plays at the upper end of their rankings and gave special recognition to traditional retailer, HMV for their newly overhauled website [4].

The message to all online retailers must surely be that regularly changing, testing and evolving their site is imperative. However, the scale of these changes need not be too drastic, on paper at least. Econsultancy and Red Eye found that relatively straightforward practices such as aligning keywords, calls to action and landing pages plus using compelling and effective calls to action are associated with high levels of customer satisfaction and conversion [5]. Good web analytics can also play its part with segmenting customers, removing bottlenecks and blockages to conversion and identifying key performance indicators being other beneficial actions for online retailers to take [5].

With Christmas just round the corner and for some eCommerce marketers regarding their current online stores with some slight concern, only minor modifications would seem prudent or potentially necessary. Meanwhile those looking to address specific pain points such as the effects of a poor onsite search facility for example, might read about products such as the newly announced Google Commerce Search with some interest. More details were posted by our colleagues in the US here

[1] NMA November 13, 2009
Internet Retailing September 22, 2009
Internet Retailing November 06, 2009
The Retail Bulletin November 02, 2009
Internet Retailing October 09, 2009


Glynn Davis said...

For those people interested in the latest Sitemorse retail rankings (December) please follow this link.