Platforms are powerful tools. Retailers have the levers to deliver exemplary shopping experiences and that should start with understanding customers. To gauge where shoppers stand, Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights surveyed 984 online consumers in late 2019. Here’s a quick look at shopper satisfaction, favored functionality and obstacles faced when trying to get the job done are shared as part of our Shopper Speaks series.
Desktop design satisfaction is superior to mobile experiences
Desktop has longevity on its side when it comes to shopper satisfaction. Mobile, however, has made formidable strides as it follows closely behind. 66% of desktop users vs. 51% of mobile users give design a score of 8 or higher.
There are standards that shoppers expect will be part of retail websites. Given the numbers, there is still room for improvement as 34% of desktop users and almost half of mobile users score sites 7 or below. Despite the fact that there are a wide range of retailers with varying user experiences, customer expectations are in place and everyone should adhere to these norms. While some are newer to selling online, others may lack the sophistication or resources to be best-in-class. With that in mind, I would recommend that all retailers keep abreast of best practices and continue to evolve as the user experience is a moving target.
Simple user experiences are meaningful to shoppers
It’s interesting that a simple overall user experience ranks so close to quickly finding products on retail websites. With the web’s prowess as the ultimate search tool, it will be difficult to eclipse quickly finding products as that is seen as inherent to the promise of the web. But a simple overall user experience is close and an important mantra for designers and retailers to live by.
With time-savings a top concern of many online shoppers and mobile the device of choice, in some ways a simple overall user experience conveys efficiency and speed, both of which are top-of-mind for today’s shoppers. It implies that a “no questions asked” or “I can find my way around” shopping site is a reality. It’s intuitive, it’s quick and it just works. Period.
Shoppers are on the hunt for information looking for details about products and categories while hoping to get an overview of the assortment, all of which are seen as helpful to the selection process. Checking out efficiently also should be noted. Each of these areas will be touched on in more detail with follow-up questions.
Obstacles still abound across retail
Getting a complete view of products is a confidence builder. The product page and its elements may be the most important aspect of every site as this is where decision-making takes place. Inadequate imagery and incomplete product descriptions have been experienced by almost one in two online shoppers. Simultaneously, the devil is in the details, where product specs on how a product works or its attributes provide answers to shopper questions that strengthen the selling proposition. Additionally, it’s about standardization so shoppers come to know how the site functions. Retailers should do their homework to understand if there are there product information management (PIM) tools that can assist with these efforts and if third-party resources can help to populate this information.
Not finding the right products fast is known to be a top reason why shoppers abandon sites. In the many projects I’ve worked on, I often found the shiny object syndrome in play where retailers look for the latest and greatest but fail to get the fundamentals like basic search right. This is a mistake that must be corrected. I encourage all retailers to test their own sites to see where shortcomings exist. Look at search logs to understand requested search terms as well as misspelled words as a starting point.
One in four shoppers express their inability to check out due to errors or dysfunctional shopping cart forms. It’s shocking that the shopping cart still poses challenges given the maturity of ecommerce. But to be honest, I sometimes encounter issues when shopping. These have included trying to use a viable credit card that doesn’t work on a particular site to a field that won’t allow entry of an email that doesn’t look like Gmail. And that doesn’t even speak to the fact that there is not accessible customer service information. Everything from contact information, return links and ask the expert functionality can help address errors and answer routine questions. Take note of 42% of online shoppers who report being unsure of shipping costs. There are no excuses in this regard, fixes must be forthcoming or cart abandonment is inevitable.
Good search is non-negotiable. There are no excuses and no second chances.
Relevant search results was destined to top the onsite search importance list. Interestingly, getting a quick view has risen in importance while filtering and auto population which play to efficiency see less appeal.
Quick view is an interesting piece of functionality and has gone through a number of iterations. Mobile may have played a role in its desirability allowing for a sneak peak before moving on. Today its presence in search results makes a powerful statement and gives visitors a better perspective of the product. These efforts should foster a more educated decision as shoppers work to select the right products fast.
Zoom and alternative views are integral to selling
They represent two of the top three product page tools and are essential for savvy shopper decision-making. Looking beyond these, product reviews have been a constant and a long shopper favorite. Their No. 2 ranking close behind zoom and above all other features further supports this premise. Reviews are a positive for both sellers and shoppers. One can discover if a product is a likely fit versus simply taking a chance. Retailers realize their impact and the insights they provide. They have smartly integrated them to ensure visibility beyond the product page. This includes search results integration to give customers an early read on the consumer point-of-view and a heightened place in mobile efforts.
A comprehensive shopping cart heightens conversion opportunities
Saving one’s cart has always been important and the perception is such that it is automatically saved across both mobile and desktop for every retailer. When a shopper has carefully crafted her shopping cart only to find it empty, frustration ensues. That’s why the ability to save your cart came in at 54%, while accessing your cart across multiple devices was at the lower 30% level. One place where shopper expectations have changed when it comes to shopping carts is a desire for express checkout. When asked to evaluate the important of aspects in the cart, a look at the top two choices found express checkout came in at 37% and limited number of clicks to checkout (four or fewer) at a comparable 33%. Shoppers are in a hurry and mobile buyers in particular know that this “less is more” model delivers the desired efficiency along the shopper journey.
Digital Commerce 360 Platform Tips
- Evaluate a platform provider’s offerings from table stakes to the new and innovative.
- Do your homework to understand the needs of your business and the demands of your shoppers
- Test both desktop and mobile execution
- Ask for references or seek out on your own retailers that have used vendors you are vetting.
- Understand from other merchants what it is like working with each vendor.
- Look at those merchants’ platforms and shopping experiences. Shop them yourself and see what the experience is like.