In the November 2015 edition of Which? Magazine (the UK’s leading consumer affairs magazine) the magazine published the results of a huge survey of online shopping experiences. The magazine interviewed over 10,000 people and asked them what E-Commerce sites they had shopped at, and what was good and bad about their experiences. The article makes for fascinating and essential reading for anyone involved in E-Commerce.
Most of the highest rated sites are very large businesses (as you might expect, both John Lewis and Amazon feature in the top 10). The two sites that were ranked the highest were AO.com (formerly Appliances Online) and LizEarle.com (cosmetics and beauty supplies). Here’s a summary of what customers love about the highest rated sites, and what lessons we can learn from them.
All the leading sites were praised for how quick it was to find and order the desired products, but there are several factors that affect the speed of an online shopping experience. First up, the site itself has to be fast (several of the lowest ranked sites were slammed for slow page load times). Next, it has to be quick and easy for customers to find the products they want. Successful online stores have to make sure that their site searches are working well and the search results look good. You can also consider implementing filtering similar to AO.com’s, where customers can specify criteria to drill down and find their ideal product.
The final aspect of a speedy shopping experience is a fast checkout, with options for quick options like PayPal Express and optional customer account creation for repeat orders.
LizEarle.com is not as big an E-Commerce player as something like John Lewis, but people rated it extremely highly for two main reasons. The first is their packaging – they take time and care to make sure that all their products are boxed beautifully. Obviously there’s a cost for this (LizEarle.com don’t offer free shipping for all orders like many of the other leading sites) but it gives their customers a warm feeling: their customers feel loved.
The other thing LizEarle.com does right is to put in free samples of different products in with each order. It’s something that costs very little to the company, but means a lot to its customer base. Think about what you can do to give a little extra to your customers.
The lowest rated websites were all slammed for misidentified products, incorrect stock statuses and poor descriptions. Poor information really annoys customers. If you are asking visitors to invest time and money in an E-Commerce purchase, you have to meet them half-way with clear descriptions, accurate stock and proper categorisation. Otherwise customers will feel annoyed that the time they have spent searching through your store has been wasted. And they won’t want to waste that time again.
There were four main criteria used to rank each site: ‘Price’, ‘Deliveries’, ‘Quality’ (i.e. perceived quality of the website) and ‘Ease of finding products’. It’s worth nothing here that ‘Price’ is only one of four measures of quality – low prices were not the be all and end all of how customers ranked the different websites. If you don’t have the lowest prices, but you get everything else right, then customers will keep on coming back.