UK eCommerce is booming, but customers still 'frustrated' with processes - Retail Shopfitting Summit
  • UK eCommerce is booming, but customers still ‘frustrated’ with processes

    Personal data usage, unavailable stock and hidden charges are among the top gripes UK consumers have about shopping online, according new research.

    AI and blockchain enabled find engine Zwoop polled 1000 UK adults and 1000 US adults via insights platform CitizenMe in an attempt to uncover the biggest grievances with eCommerce, with the following moans topping the tables:

    Top five problems shopping online UK and US
    Rank UK % US %
    1 The item you are looking for is out of stock 64 Unexpected charges on top of your purchase 53
    2 Unexpected charges on top of your purchase 46 The item you are looking for is out of stock 48
    3 What you buy is not delivered on time / when expected 39 It takes a long time to find what you want 47
    4 What you want is only available abroad 34 The check out process is too time consuming 44
    5 It takes a long time to find what you want 32 You can never find the exact product you are looking for

    “E-commerce has evolved to service the needs of retailers rather than consumers, who are forced to experience pain throughout the buying process,” said Alessandro Gadotti, CEO of Zwoop. “Our research has identified a high level of frustration in the UK and the US. People struggle to find products that are in stock, unexpected charges are imposed at the end of the buying process, purchases aren’t being delivered when promised and time is wasted trying to find the exact products they want.”

    In addition to buying grievances, the survey also uncovered a trend of a more fundamental concern – how retailers are using customer data.

    On both sides of the Atlantic, customers reported increased sensitivity about how their data is being used by retailers and third parties (84 percent in the UK, 78 percent in the US claim that they are more conscious of how their data is being used compared to a year ago).

    The scale of the challenge facing retailers is underlined by the fact that 78 percent of UK adults, and 69 percent of US adults said they were uncomfortable with how their data was used.

    “While it’s encouraging that consumers are more aware of how their data is being used – probably thanks to the Cambridge Analytica revelations earlier this year – their dissatisfaction is not being met with real change,” said Gadotti. “This research shows that the vast majority of people do not like how their data is being used, yet they are stuck using the same sites regardless. Companies are taking advantage of customers, and there needs to be another option. This is an area in which the use of blockchain – which can transfer control of personal data from the retailer to the individual – holds much promise”.

    The survey revealed that the typical consumer’s e-commerce experience is dominated by a few large companies. Amazon is the starting point for online shopping for 46 percent of people in the UK, and 37 percent people in the US.

    In fact, 94 percent of Brits and 90 percent of Americans start their online shop on Amazon, eBay or a search engine, leaving little market space for online retailers or competing marketplaces.

    This reliance on a few sites means that shoppers are not necessarily getting a true view of the options available to them, which many customers recognise. In the US, over a third (36 percent) admitted that they don’t bother to compare prices between different sites and almost half (46 percent) think they could have found a cheaper price if they looked for longer. Even more people in the UK (55 percent) think they could have found a better price if they’d kept looking.

    “The world of e-commerce is dominated by a few large companies who control the market,” continued Gadotti. “The majority of consumers start their shopping experience with these giants by default, because searching the whole of the internet has been next to impossible, at least until now, and don’t even consider looking at other websites.”

    “Most worryingly, 79 percent of UK adults said that they believe the websites they use are designed to find them the best deals. In reality, that is not the case – search engines, for example, do not show results on the best deal, it’s done on SEO and ultimately marketing spend.”

    When asked, 40 percent UK adults and a staggering 68 percent of US adults said that the ability to use cryptocurrency on their favourite shops online would make them more likely to buy cryptocurrency.


    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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