I’m sure we’ve all done it before – that last minute purchase of a pair of socks for Grandpa Joe; the sift through Amazon’s bestseller books for Aunt Jenny on your smartphone, the scramble to find something better than the gift voucher for Dad during the lunch break. If that doesn’t resonate, then hats off to you – you’re a well prepared shopper for this Holiday and Christmas season.
For most, however, our increasingly demanding expectations of the immediacy and simplicity of eCommerce and online retail mean that, for every Holiday and Christmas season that comes around, we rely more and more on retailers to make it simple for us to do everything in a moment, at last minute; on the device we want, wherever we are, and so on. But our expectations and demands continue to outweigh how many retailers are responding with their online merchandising. No surprise, then, that our annual holiday shopper study shows that the top frustrations of consumers across the globe are directly related to retailer’s online merchandising strategies and tactics.
Let’s take a look at some of the key findings of the study…
Top Frustration #1 – Showing Out-of-Stock Items
When asked ‘what frustrates you most about online shopping?’, the top frustration across all markets, was ‘showing out of stock items’
Clearly, for bricks and mortar shopping, showing out of stock items is a foreign concept so there’s no great surprise that it’s a frustration for online shoppers, but it is a surprise that it tops the frustrations consistently and globally.
For online retailers, the clear message is that to deliver a better and less frustrating customer experience, online merchandising needs to step up. Online merchandising solutions can help to ensure that out of stock items are never shown to the customer, by connecting directly to stock data as well as showing other relevant products to customers who are looking for an item that might be out of stock.
Top Frustration #2 – Not Enough Information Available
Similarly, this frustration is something that seems to be born out of the modern expectation that online shopping needs to mirror the levels of service and experience that high quality retailers provide in store. It’s the online equivalent of having the in-store assistant or the ‘personal shopper’, if you will.
There’s a growing need for online retailers to invest more in content marketing and modern digital marketing practices to enhance the quality and diversity of information provided to customers to ensure they are more informed, more inspired and therefore more trusting to make the purchase online. It’s not acceptable anymore to just make it easy to transact; the entire online shopping experience, which includes how content marketing and online merchandising practices can work together, needs to be the focus of retailers if they are to succeed in eradicating these consumer frustrations this Holiday Season.
Top Frustration #3 – In-store impressions different from online
In a recent webinar, Majestic Wine’s eCommerce Director spoke about their omnichannel ambitions and how they “try and bridge the gap between offline and online to let customers know what they might experience in store”. This statement rings true for any multichannel retailer and, as we have matured into a world where the discussions are no longer about the ‘battle between online and offline’ but about how the experience is consistent in an omnichannel world, it’s clear that online retailers still have a long way to go to alleviate the concerns of consumers about inconsistent approaches to omnichannel.
And finally…what about the differences between markets?
The study reveals some interesting differences in the habits and frustrations of consumers from different markets. The most marked difference being between UK and Germany.
UK consumers are severely concerned by out of stock items online, while German consumers are more frustrated by the disconnect between online and offline. It’s clear that while UK retailers need to focus on improving their online merchandising to ensure that stock data is connected to what is shown to the customer. German retailers should be investing more in maturing their omnichannel presence going into 2015.
Interesting data, no doubt, and food for thought for retailers this Holiday Season and for the year ahead. Explore the data and implications of how you should scale for seasonal shopping.