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Wednesday 23 January 2019

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Poor online customer experience ‘hurting retailers’

Written by Peter Walker
09/01/19

The UK’s top e-retailers are jeopardising sales by not prioritising on-site customer experience, according to Visualsoft.

In November, the e-commerce and digital agency’s research team tested and analysed the websites of 250 of the biggest online shops against 17 criteria and website performance metrics.

It found that 19 per cent of retailers fail to optimise their onsite search with functions such as autocomplete, well-targeted product suggestions or relevant recommendations – features which can potentially double a store’s conversion levels.

Only 37 per cent of retailers make use of live chat or virtual assistant services - down two per cent in the past 12 months - something which can improve customer experience and boost conversion rates by as much as 40 per cent.

More than a third (35 per cent) of online shopping basket abandonment is due to customers being asked to create a customer account prior to purchase. However, 67 per cent of retailers analysed forced shoppers to follow this step.

The analysis also found that more than one in 10 e-retailers have eight or more steps before purchase.

Gavin Lowther, Visualsoft’s head of digital, said that great customer service is a key facet of bricks-and-mortar retail. “However, online stores must also ensure that their site provides an enjoyable and simple buying process, with easy access to help should they need it.

“Of course, many may not see these metrics as critical as long as consumer appetite for online shopping remains strong, but as we head into what promises to be a very difficult 2019, the retailers that thrive will be those that get the basics right.”

Benson noted that the recently-reported profit slump at ASOS “proves that online brands are not immune to today’s difficult retail landscape and should be doing all they can to maximise sales opportunities”.


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