With the 2020 holiday shopping season expected to largely happen online, it’s never been more critical for brands and retailers to make sure their websites are in tip-top shape to handle the amount of traffic they expect (and hope) to attract, and to make the customer journey as seamless as possible. And if the state of brand sites now is any indication, much work needs to be done.
New research from digital guidance solutions firm goMoxie finds that 40 percent of consumers struggle to complete basic tasks on retail websites—and that most are more likely to abandon the experience or switch to a competitor rather than seek assistance. The findings are especially concerning given the challenges many retailers already face as a result of the COVID crisis. As a critical holiday shopping season approaches, the firm’s new survey signals a need for a more proactive approach to ensure customer success and maximize e-commerce revenue.
The survey was fielded during a time when COVID-19 has driven increased retail activity into online channels. According to eMarketer, in 2020, e-commerce sales will climb by 18 percent to reach $709.78 billion, representing 14.5 percent of total U.S. retail sales. While this increased volume suggests expanded opportunities for online retailers, the high levels of struggle and abandonment indicate that many of these businesses are failing to realize their full sales potential.
“Consumers should not have to struggle to do business online. Unfortunately, many do and they end up leaving,” said Rebecca Ward, goMoxie CEO, in a news release. “We’ve already seen retail customer interaction volumes more than double year-over-year in advance of the peak holiday shopping season. Retailers should be taking steps now to guide every customer to success in order to increase transactions, strengthen satisfaction and make the most of the sales opportunities over the 2020 holiday season and beyond.”
Key findings from the survey:
Online shoppers face myriad basic obstacles—including not being able to complete a transaction
The most common forms of struggle come down to easily avoidable failures. Consumers could greatly benefit from retailers guiding them with proactive and relevant information throughout the purchase path. Guide customers when they arrive to the site, through product selection and check out as well as when they return for service and support. When consumers reported struggling online, they encounter the following:
- 43 percent of consumers struggled with insufficient, incorrect or confusing information via mobile
- 43 percent reported difficulties in site navigation
- 42 percent were unable to complete a transaction
- 36 percent encountered an error message
- 22 percent reported password / login challenges
Consumer struggle costs retailers business
E-commerce websites make support channels available. Unfortunately, shoppers are far more likely to give up and leave—making it essential to take a proactive approach to guidance. When encountering a struggle online:
- 62 percent abandoned the shopping experience
- 52 percent shopped with a competitor
- Only 26 percent contacted customer service
While phone is slightly preferred, retailers that are looking to keep customers in the digital channel should focus on interacting via email and live chat versus text messaging and chatbots
Some businesses have turned to text messaging and chatbots / virtual assistants, but consumers don’t prefer these means of interaction. When asked which channel they prefer to use when contacting a retailer:
- 33 percent chose telephone
- 26 percent chose email
- 25 percent chose live chat with an agent
- 13 percent chose self-service portal
- 12 percent chose text / SMS message
- 8 percent chose chatbot / virtual assistant
The significant shift to online in such a short period of time presents an opportunity for many retailers
With less than two months to go until the holiday shopping season kicks off in earnest, retailers have limited time to take advantage of these findings and implement digital guidance to reduce customer friction and churn and deliver better business outcomes.