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Why are most online shopping experiences so bad?

Australian consumers are much more likely to encounter problems when shopping online, with as many as 62 per cent experiencing an issue over the last 12 months.

This was the finding of the third annual JDA Consumer Pulse Report, which includes data about consumers’ online shopping experiences for the first time.

According to a survey of 1,000 Aussies about their home delivery, click-and-collect and online returns experiences, 50 per cent of those who reported having an issue when making a purchase online said they had experienced a late delivery.

Forty-one per cent said they had missed a delivery despite being at home, while 28 per cent said they had either received damaged items or didn’t receive their order at all. And 23 per cent said they had received incorrect items.

At the same time, Australians have little tolerance for these problems, with 70 per cent saying they would shop elsewhere if they had a poor online experience.

A similar survey commissioned by JDA of UK online shoppers revealed those consumers are even less tolerant of problems than Aussies, but they are also less likely to experience them in the first place.

Patrick Viney, vice president of industry strategy, retail APAC at JDA, said this finding may surprise retailers in Australia.

“When you look at the surveys we’ve done in other countries [in Europe], Australians are more likely to switch to a different retailer than almost any other group,” Viney said.

“Customers are clearly saying speed is not necessarily the number one issue. It’s about getting orders in a timely manner and being able to return things easily.”

Retailers have to own the last-mile

Meanwhile, returns are becoming a bigger concern for retailers, according to a separate JDA/PwC survey, which the Consumer Pulse Report cited.

Nearly three-quarters of leading retail executives believe the cost of customer returns is impacting on their profits to at least some extent, that survey found.

But with 70 per cent of Aussies saying the ease of making a return plays a role in their decision to shop with a retailer online, companies can’t afford to make the process too onerous.

Click-and-collect clearly has a role to play here.

Nearly half of the Australian consumers surveyed said they had used such a service in the last 12 months. Their primary reasons for doing so were the ability to avoid delivery charges, convenience and greater confidence of receiving the goods.

For Viney, the key takeaway from the survey is that retailers must take responsibility for the entire delivery and returns process, even if some steps are carried out by a third party.

“We’re seeing a number of retailers across the globe take control of the last mile and deliver an end-to-end experience. And they’re the ones that tend to get better brand perception.

“If you look at Amazon, they work hard to ensure that the customer is receiving all the updates and links from them, even though they use a number of different delivery providers and 3PLs.

“Ultimately, any issues the customer has can be very quickly resolved through Amazon. That’s a leading example of where we see the responsibility coming back to the brand.”

This story first appeared in Inside Retail Weekly, issue 2142. To subscribe, click here

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