1. Shopper & Customer

Online Shopping Frustration is Growing … But Retailers Can Reverse the Trend

Following a record-breaking “Cyber Five,” retailers are crossing their fingers for robust sales to continue throughout the holiday season. But as online spending rises, so does online shopper frustration — and this has the potential to harm both immediate and long-term sales.

Retail data from FullStory shows that online shoppers experienced a 16.3 percent year-over-year jump in digital frustration during the critical Thanksgiving-Cyber Monday shopping period. Frustration was measured in “rage clicks,” when users repeatedly click or tap on an element in a website or app, across more than 100 large retailers. On Cyber Monday alone, shopper frustration increased 24.7 percent.

Common triggers for rage clicks include pop-up windows or ads, broken buttons, slow load times, or text and images that look like active links but aren’t. And that’s not all: Over the Cyber Five period, FullStory logged a jump of 3.7 percent in error messages and a 2.6 percent increase in dead clicks (i.e., when nothing happens after users click on a link).

These frustrations pose a revenue risk for retailers. FullStory’s research shows that nearly two-thirds of shoppers who encounter these problems leave without buying, and 53 percent of consumers are unlikely to return to a brand after a poor digital experience. The growth in frustration over the Cyber Five weekend signals that while current sales are robust, long-term loyalty is at risk.

To prevent negative fallout, retailers should monitor digital performance closely so they can proactively address problem areas before they snowball. And product and marketing teams should make a plan now to re-engage shoppers after the holiday bustle is over. Tactics to adopt now for a successful conclusion to the season include the following:

  • Clock performance of buy now, pay later (BNPL) and other payment services. Cash-strapped shoppers are seeking out alternative payment options, with Cyber Five data from Adobe Analytics revealing BNPL usage soared a whopping 42 percent year-over-year. But as retailers integrate options from vendors like Afterpay and Klarna, they risk slowing down checkout performance. Monitor rage clicks and page exits from the checkout flow, and investigate promptly if numbers spike outside the normal range.
  • Monitor ad landing page performance. Research from Comscore and Nexxen found that 86 percent of marketers are maintaining or increasing digital ad spend this year, however, merchants undermine their own investments when shoppers who click ad links land on a glitchy page. Monitor traffic from paid referrers and the percentage of visits that end after a single page. If the number jumps, step in.
  • Clarify error messaging. A generic “something went wrong” doesn’t indicate whether the problem is a typo in the credit card number or an out-of-stock item in the shopping cart. Help shoppers fix problems with specific instructions. If the issue is beyond their control, candor is the best approach. Give shoppers a progress message — “we’re working on it, thanks for your patience!” — so they know what’s going on.
  • Circle back to encourage return business. If a major glitch occurs, message shoppers who visited the site during the outage and offer them a make-good coupon or discount. More broadly, the end of the holiday season should kick off the start of a re-engagement campaign to convert new customers into loyalists. Winter clearance sales, appealing loyalty club incentives, and gift card redemption ideas can all spur return visits and purchases.

Poor digital experiences can undermine retailers’ attempts to grow sales and loyalty during the holidays. With close monitoring of site performance and proactive re-engagement, retailers can make the most of the peak season and set the stage for a successful 2024.

Lindsay Bayuk is the chief marketing officer of FullStory, an intuitive digital experience intelligence platform that provides users with critical insights so they can drive high-impact digital improvements and revenue.

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