Customer Experience Digital Marketing e-commerce Marketing Retail

What’s the single biggest turn-off for the online consumer?

How to keep a customer shopping online.

It’s a tough old world on the high street, as we’re constantly being told, but there is one strand of retail that does appear to be thriving.  The virtual high street, of course.  According to February’s e-Retail Sales Index from IMRG and Capgemini, overall spend on the internet in February was 20% up on the same month last year.  Indeed, UK online retail sales for January and February alone are worth more than £10 billion.  Fashion did even better, with clothing footwear and accessories sales up a staggering 34% year-on-year.  Even the Head of Online Selling at John Lewis, Jonathan Brown acknowledged: “Fashion led the way, outperforming 2010 by over 50%.

So is it that easy?  Will consumers flock to buy your shiny goods, so long as they’re on the internet?  You might have guessed, but a bad retail experience is just as damaging online as it is offline.  And if you didn’t already know that, Brand gurus Wolff Olins (with YouGov) have done a survey to prove it.

74% of consumers say they’d never return to a poorly performing website, and that rises to 84% if they happen to be a first-time visitor. And the biggest bugbear of all? 80% of consumers would be put off using an online retailer if there was a complicated returns procedure.

Nothing earth-shattering here but with nearly half (48%) of consumers believing that online shopping can be just as rewarding as offline, there’s a great opportunity for e-tailers to engender a band of loyal repeat customers.

We know that online shopping has a higher percentage of returns than high street retail. That’s the small price to pay for reaching a much wider audience. So perhaps the answer is to build a unique customer experience around the returns process. Let’s make it positive, entertaining and memorable, going all out to highlight customers returning goods as valued. Regular customers should have access to a VIP returns hotline where retailers arrange refunds and replacements without delay.

Could this be one of the secrets behind ASOS’s spectacular turnover of £223m last year? Only one way to find out…

(Featured Photo by Mein Deal on Unsplash)

2 comments

  1. Interesting points re customer returns. I have had two very different experiences in the past 2 weeks that highlights the good and the not as good as it could be:
    1) John Lewis – my mistake in ordering wrong sofa and they immediately the incorrect one would be collected and replaced at no cost. I will use them again.
    2) Thomas Pink – their mistake – wrong shirt amongst a large order. They kindly offered to replace it but I had to arrange to go to post office and return it to them. In return they would send me a new shirt and…. send it for free rather than charging me. When I suggested better customer service would be to send me a reply paid envelope to save me the aggro they didnt bother replying. In the end I couldnt be bothered and kept the incorrect shirt. I am not sure I will use them again. What is interesting to me is that I reckon TP think they provide an excellent and efficient returns service and aren’t aware that their customer base would rather gnaw off their arms than stand in a queue at a post office (we don’t all have PA’s!)

    But my

  2. Last week my girlfriend ordered over £600 from Long Tall Sally – she likes the shop but never ever orders from them online… apart from this month they are promoting a “free returns” service (probably to see what happens)… so they got in theory a good order. Danielle knew she would likely return most of the order but she wanted to look and see and try the clothes on first.

    In the end the whole lot went back, and she was frustrated as she had to spend £12 on sending it with insurance at the post office… the “free” returns was just that they would “accept returns” in the end and didnt supply pre paid returns labels… oh dear, bitter taste.

    Actually a possible good one as D is now more into the clothes but they just werent right that time.

    Next for example are constantly at our door dropping off and taking back… the ultimate returns service company with their own home workers doing all the tripping about…but the goods come to the door and a good % stay with us.

    Clothing I feel is a totally different animal online to the rest of the shopping world and and each category should have its own survey and analysis to be more use to online retailers. Broad brush surveys only give a flavour as to consumer reaction.

    Lots of lessons to be learned though and what surveys tend not to mention is that there is a very real balance to be drawn when encouraging returns… and the cost to the business of doing this… vs the margins in the products and the overall conversion rate of revenue / spend / returns.

    The debate will continue and evolve as consumers do too.

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