Five gifts not to give your customers this Christmas

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By Matthew Furneaux, director of location intelligence at Loqate

Furneaux: consumers find online shopping revolting

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But it’s also the most hectic time of the year for shoppers and this year is no different. In fact, consumers are delving deep into their pockets with the average person set to spend £1,108 during this festive season – a £200 increase on last year.  

With the festive shopping season in full swing, it’s up to retailers to make sure that presents make it to their destination in time for the big day. But as most will know, that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. In an online world there are numerous potential barriers between a retailer and a happy customer. 

We recently partnered with psychologists at Goldsmiths University to understand how common online shopping ‘fails’ by retailers affect the brain. The scientists found that when consumers get irritated – by experiences like their payment card not working or a delivery being delayed – our brains send signals of repulsion. That’s right, consumers are finding online shopping revolting! Here we reveal the top most annoying online shopping experiences according to the neuroscientists. 

So if you’re looking to please shoppers this holiday season, these are the top five ‘presents’ that are best avoided! 

  • A late delivery 

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s hardly surprising that a late delivery would be frustrating. Afterall, a late delivery could be the difference between giving a gift to a loved one and coming along empty handed. The research found that these feelings of frustration were intensified if people had paid more for faster delivery. 

Interestingly, this is the most frustrating shopping experience for customers at any time of the year so it’s one for retailers to avoid at all costs. One avenue retailers could take is to be as transparent and communicative as possible with customers about their delivery times, especially during this high demand season. 

  • The website crashes as a crucial moment 

The second most affronting experience for customers is a website that lets them down at that crucial moment. Whether it crashes, freezes or isn’t optimised for mobile shopping, a poorly performing website is exactly off putting for customers. 

Digging a little deeper, we found that 44% of customers say they will not return to a site if it has a poor checkout experience. With online shopping it’s rare to get a second or third chance so retailers should be monitoring their website’s performance, across all platforms on a consistent basis to ensure it’s glitch-free.  

  • Return to sender – well, to the depot anyway 

We’ve all been in a situation where a delivery driver has failed to deliver. This annoyance was in the top five because of the inconvenience customers felt faced with having to rearrange a delivery or track down a parcel at their local post office. 

It is not always a neglectful delivery driver that causes a lost delivery. Addresses not being found are often due to the incorrect information being entered into the checkout. Human errors like entering an old postcode are all too common but it doesn’t have to impact retailers’ relationships with their customers. 

With a little bit of forward planning retailers can eliminate this issue simply by having fast and accurate address capture and verification in place on their website.     

  • Poor customer service 

Our brains respond badly to poor customer service but what kind of situations annoy people most when it comes to online shopping? Specific examples from the research include being told a package would arrive later than expected, after it’s been purchased, or being given a discount code only to find out that it doesn’t work on the retailer’s website. 

These might sound like minor inconveniences, but in an environment where there are more online retailers than ever customers have more choices than before. That means they’re much more likely to jump ship if they don’t get what they expect. 

In fact, the average Brit abandons a bad checkout experience around six times a week, so retailers need to make sure they have a seamless customer journey from the cart to the door.  

  • Painful payments 

Whilst this was the fifth most annoying experience in our research – painful payments are still a burden that shoppers aren’t willing to endure. 

Whether it’s that your preferred payment option isn’t available or you get stuck on the payment processing screen, the reality is that retailers need seamless payment methods to retain customers and grow their top line. 

  • The best gift is the one customers expect 

Each and every one of these common online shopping frustrations is avoidable. By spotting potential problems and making sure they have the right technology in place retailers can ensure that customers get exactly what they ordered this Christmas – a quick and simple online shopping experience. 

You can find out more about our research into how the brain is impacted by online shopping here