UK online retailers fail to improve the shopping experience

With increasing competition in ecommerce, it’s never been more important for online retailers to provide the best possible shopping experience. However, the second annual E-retail Performance Report reveals that online customer experience is actually in decline.

So where are online retailers falling down?

Problem areas

Of the 250 leading UK e-tailers surveyed, the proportion humanising online shopping through live chat and virtual assistants fell 2% in 2017 to 37%. Yet studies show this can boost conversion rates by up to 40%.

The survey also found that most retailers’ websites rated as ‘poor’ in terms of page loading speed. Almost a two-thirds took longer than nine seconds to load on 3G, compared to 54% in 2017.

Featuring social sharing buttons on ecommerce sites encourages sales from customers’ networks of friends, yet this declined in 2018. Some 17% of e-tailers surveyed failed to do this, up from 13% last year.

Source: Valuesoft E-Retail Performance Report 2018

Room for improvement

UK online retailers also performed poorly in other key areas. Almost a fifth do not optimise their onsite search. This can be achieved through simple techniques like autocomplete, well-targeted product suggestions or relevant recommendations. However, 19% of e-tailers didn’t bother. This is worrying as the survey reveals they are missing out on the opportunity to double their conversion rates.

The report also points out that 35% of baskets are abandoned because customers need to create an account before buying. Despite this, over two-thirds of UK online retailers still place this demand on their customers.

What’s more, 10% of UK e-tailers also fell down in terms of the complexity of the shopping experience. Having to take eight or more steps before purchase can put off shoppers, yet one in 10 sites made them jump through this many hoops.   

Source: Valuesoft E-Retail Performance Report 2018

Guard against complacency

Compared to 2017, the report seems to indicate that a certain amount of complacency has crept into UK ecommerce. Unfortunately, this is at a time when creating the best possible online shopping experience has never been more important. In 2019, it’s vital for UK e-tailers to embrace customer centricity by placing shoppers at the core of their retail strategies, but it’s clear that they still have some way to go. Now’s the time for them to up their game and put more focus on their customers. Hopefully, this survey will act as a warning.

About the Author: Katharine
Katharine is Head of Marketing Communications - EMEA. An avid shopper, Katharine is passionate about helping retailers understand the importance of efficient post-purchase communications. When she isn’t looking for the latest trends for our blog, Katharine loves discovering new restaurants in London.