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Retailers failing at simple eCommerce best practice

Online retailers could be making more in revenues if they applied simple measures, such as appropriate product imagery.

That’s according to research carried out on 1,213 UK adults by agency MarketingSignals, which found a staggering 61 percent of those polled were put off purchasing from a website by insufficient or poor product imagery, followed by 57 percent that found product descriptions inadequate.

The survey also found that more than half (52 percent) of these businesses are failing potential customers with their lack of customer service, while 47 percent have overly intrusive discount pop ups on the home page, which can potentially detract users from making a purchase.

43 percent of those polled were put off by websites that has an over complicated checkout process, while 41 percent would be deterred by an e-commerce business which has little or no social media presence.

A third (34 percent) of those questioned said that a lack of delivery options would deter them from from making an online purchase, whilst a website that wasn’t optimised for mobile devices would put off 27 percent of respondents.

16 percent said they’d be put off from making a purchase if they couldn’t see company information or an ‘about us’ page. Completing the top ten reasons which deter users from making a purchase was customers who prefer to use alternative payment methods, with over one in ten (11 percent) saying that they’d seek to make their purchase elsewhere if a website did not accept the PayPal or Apple Pay.

Gareth Hoyle, managing director at marketingsignals.com, said: “It’s clear from the research that many potential customers are being put off from making a purchase from websites they are not familiar with, which makes it so much more important for e-commerce businesses to make the checkout process as simple as possible in order for them to complete their transaction smoothly.

“In this social media age, it’s perhaps unsurprising that 41 percent of Brits would be put off from making a purchase from a website that is unfamiliar to them and doesn’t have a visible social media presence.

“Internet savvy consumers are always keen to spot a bargain, though can be put off by over complicated or seemingly untrustworthy websites when attempting to make a purchase, instead opting to buy from a site they already know and trust. So what this research demonstrates is that it’s clear that there are simple steps e-commerce businesses can take in order to improve conversion rates from first time visitors to their site.”

The top ten reasons that deter customers from making an e-commerce purchase:

  1. Insufficient or poor quality product imagery – 61 percent
  2. Inadequate product descriptions – 57 percent
  3. Lack of customer service – 52 percent
  4. Distracting/Intrusive pop ups – 47 percent
  5. Over complicated check-out process – 43 percent
  6. Little or no social media presence – 41 percent
  7. Lack of delivery options – 34 percent
  8. Desktop-only site design – 27 percent
  9. Insufficient or lack of company information – 16 percent
  10. Not accepting alternative payment methods including PayPal and Apple Pay – 11 percent

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Brands urged to embrace the ‘purple pound’

Businesses are being encouraged to register for Purple Tuesday to learn more about the purple pound – the spending power of disabled people and their families.

Over 13 million people in the UK, one fifth of the population, live with a disability and households with a disabled person spend a combined £249 billion a year.

But many businesses could do more to provide for disabled customers, according to the organisers of Purple Tuesday.

Purple Tuesday is an international call to action which will take which place on 12th November 2019. Created and coordinated by disability organisation Purple, it celebrates the power of the purple pound and asks businesses to make a commitment to improve their offer to disabled people. Businesses that register for Purple Tuesday will benefit from free resources from Purple on topics such as website accessibility and customer service training.

Last year over 750 organisations participated, including retail giants Asda, M&S and Sainsbury’s. This year, Purple Tuesday will engage with organisations across multiple sectors on an international level.

Geraldine El Masrour, Centre Manager of Motherwell Shopping Centre, worked with Purple to prepare the centre for Purple Tuesday and saw first-hand the impact of the day on her staff and customers: “Following Purple Tuesday, one of our Security Officers put his dementia training into action to support a shopper, who had previously been seen as disruptive, to make a purchase. The customer was so happy he cried.” Geraldine has since been nominated as Centre Manager of the Year for the SCEPTRE Awards, she says: “I’m sure that working with Purple and taking part in Purple Tuesday has helped me to be shortlisted and I’m looking forward to making continued improvements to our services for disabled people as we build up to Purple Tuesday 2019.”

Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of Purple Tuesday said: “Meeting the needs of disabled customers makes commercial sense for businesses of all sizes, from all sectors.

“Purple Tuesday is a milestone moment, but the issue is relevant 365 days a year. From retail to restaurants, tourism to insurance, we’re calling on businesses across all sectors to back Purple Tuesday and commit to changing the customer experience for disabled people for good.”

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: “A day out for disabled customers should be an enjoyable experience to share with family and friends, but for so many it can be such a hassle that they end up staying at home instead.

“That is a terrible shame, not only for the UK’s 13 million disabled people but for Britain’s businesses who are missing out on the huge spending power of these valuable customers. It’s also not acceptable in this day and age.

“I want businesses across the country to get involved with this year’s Purple Tuesday and open their doors to disabled customers – not just on this day but all year round.”

Disabled people tend to be more brand loyal than the average consumer, yet less than 10 per cent of businesses worldwide currently include disabled customers in their marketing plans. By failing to meet the needs of disabled people, businesses could be missing out on a share of £2 billion a month.

As well as providing free resources for Purple Tuesday participants, Purple provides tailored accessibility consulting and support to businesses through paid Purple Memberships and Partnerships.

Purple Members receive benefits including website accessibility diagnosis with recommendations which are free of low cost to implement, as well as consultancy with Purple and support through the Government accredited Disability Confident programme.

A Purple Partnership is designed for organisations with experience of disability issues who want to benefit from longer-term consultancy to address employee, consumer and supply chain related issues. Both Members and Partners receive discounts on Purple’s additional training and auditing services.

To register for Purple Tuesday and join organisations across the globe in changing the customer experience for disabled people, visit https://purpletuesday.org.uk/.

Retailers urged to embrace digital personalisation

Retails have been urged to extend personalisation at every digital touchpoint and to every individual using AI, in light of more dire warnings on the state of the High Street.

The British Retail Consortium and KPMG have noted the lowest sales figures since 1995 in May, which in a year plagued with closures and CVAs raises the alarm for further decline in the UK high street in the coming months.

According to Raj Badarinath, VP Ecosystems at RichRelevance, brands and retailers are desperately looking for a solution, but stubbornly ignoring the most critical factor: what customers want.

Badarinath asserts that instead of exploring their customers as individuals (not rough marketing-made segments) they keep holding on to outdated personalisation tactics that are clearly not good enough.

“It is disappointing to see retail sales falling year on year in the UK. It’s a tricky time for UK retailers – as they battle on multiple fronts: monopolies like Amazon, ankle biters such as DVNBs (Digitally Native Vertical Brands) and more,” said Badarinath.

“UK consumers today are short on time and inundated with the problem of choice – too much content, product, offers and more. Retailers should reduce decision fatigue by extending personalization at every digital touchpoint and to every individual using AI, which provides the technical ability to do so for the first time. Retailers realize that the UK consumer is fickle and easily wooed, so techniques like hyper-personalization ensure a seamless, memorable customer experience, to increase repeat sales and improve overall lifetime value.”

Retailers ‘neglecting Twitter and Facebook for customer service’

Retailers are neglecting social media when it comes to customer service, and are not listening to consumers to drive customer experience improvements.

That’s according to the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, which found that while retailers successfully answered 59% of routine queries asked via web self service, chat, email, Facebook and Twitter, there were wide variations in performance between channels.

Retailers provided answers to 83% of queries on their websites but only responded correctly to 38% of tweets and 50% of Facebook messages. Performance had worsened on many channels since 2017 – then retailers answered 73% of emails.

By 2019 this had dropped to 68%, despite the continued popularity of the channel with consumers, who use it for over a quarter of their interactions with brands.

As part of the study, 20 fashion and food & drink retailers were evaluated on their digital customer experience, alongside brands from other sectors, by testing their accuracy and speed at answering relevant, routine queries, repeating research conducted since 2012. Questions included asking about ethical sourcing policies (fashion) and allergy labelling (food and drink).

Additionally, 1,000 consumers were asked for their views on customer experience.

Fashion (answering 60% of all queries) and food and drink (59%) were the top sectors surveyed but still failed to respond to 4 in 10 of all routine queries.

The research also demonstrated a direct link between trust, listening and loyalty. 89% of consumers surveyed said they either will stop buying from brands that they don’t trust or will spend less. Building trust begins with delivering on basic promises – 59% ranked giving satisfactory, consistent answers as a top three factor in creating trustworthiness, while 63% rated making processes easy and seamless as key. Just 8% of consumers felt that brands were listening to them all of the time, with 74% believing brands pay attention to their views half the time or less.

“The move to digital has transformed the retail landscape,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder, Eptica. “Greater choice means consumers are becoming more demanding and are actively seeking out brands that they can trust and who listen to them. While retail brands have made some improvements since 2017, they have slipped back in others, damaging trust and ultimately customer loyalty and revenues. If they want to succeed they need to listen to customers and use their insight. Only those who do this will thrive and stay ahead of the competition.”

Retail Accuracy 2019
versus 2017
Average speed 2019
versus 2017
Web 83% vs 70% n/a
Email 68% vs 73% 10hr 19m vs 24hr 12m
Facebook 50% vs 28% 43m 24s vs 3hr 34m
Twitter 38% vs 50% 1hr 56m vs 1hr 43m
Chat 35% vs 25% 8m 43s 4m 24s
Total 59% vs 55%

Speed of response also varied widely between channels – and even within sectors and brands. One fashion retailer answered a tweet in 17 minutes, yet another took 50 hours to reply. A food and drink retailer responded on Facebook within one minute but needed nearly 23 hours to provide an answer on email. Overall response times on chat doubled from 4 minutes back in 2017 to 8 minutes this year. Facebook had the fastest average speed of response, at 43 minutes, 24 seconds – over twice as fast as Twitter (1 hour 56 minutes) and nearly 15 times faster than email (10 hours 19 minutes). This is despite exactly the same questions being asked across these channels.

The study evaluated 50 UK brands, split equally between the fashion, food and drink, travel, insurance and banking sectors. Brands were rated on their ability to answer five routine questions via their websites, as well as their speed, accuracy and consistency when responding to email, Twitter, Facebook and chat. Additionally, 1,000 UK consumers were surveyed on their attitude to trust, its relationship with customer experience and on loyalty and brand reputation. All research was completed in H1 2019.

A full report, including the study results, graphics and best practice recommendations for brands to transform customer experience is available at https://www.eptica.com/19cxretail.

An infographic on the results is available at https://www.eptica.com/state-uk-retail-customer-experience-infographic-2019.

IPA Bellwether reports UK digital ad budgets rise

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s (IPA) Bellwether reports marketeers have revised their budgets upwards in the first quarter of 2017, the highest level recorded in almost a decade.

Some 26.1 per cent of those companies polled remain positive about 2017/18 budgets, signalling growth for the coming year,  while 11.8 per cent of companies said that marketing budgets would increase during the first quarter of 2017.

32 per cent of those companies polled also reported improvement in the financial pipeline, compared to 19 per cent that predicted things would be worse during the quarter.

The IPA reported marketers on tighter budgets are seeing greater value from digital and positioning ad spend accordingly, mostly as a direct result of the unknown effects of Brexit negotiations and wider economic uncertainty.

However, despite a positive outlook for digital ad spends in 2017, the IPA predicts stagnation materialising in 2018, with marketers being advised by experts to proceed with caution.

Speaking about the report, the IPA’s director general Paul Bainsfair said: “The election result has thrown further uncertainty into an already volatile environment.

“It is inevitable that this has had a knock-on effect on UK. Specifically, for marketers this has meant a desire, where possible, to seek out more activation driven advertising. As evidenced strongly in this latest Bellwether Report, this has resulted in a further move towards advertising in the digital space.”