In the first quarter of 2017, per ONS; 89% of adults in the UK had used the internet and virtually all adults aged 16-34 years were recent internet users (99%.) It is apparent with online participation rates this high; many individuals will choose to shop online.
Clouder.co.uk decided to consider what items consumers are browsing for – and purchasing – online; with food (64%), health and beauty items (65%) and clothing and footwear (66%) reigning supreme in the online world. Conversely, books, movies, music and games (47%) and DIY items (37%) had far less interest – with dramatically lower figures.
All in all, the results present a strong online presence by consumers and, whilst an appreciation for brick-and-mortar retail outlets for specialist items like tools remains, it is the breadth and convenience of online retail which appears to rule today’s consumer market.
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Fittingly, the ‘Customer Pulse Report UK, 2016’ details online sales have continued to grow at an impressive rate; shown by figures from the ‘Interactive Media in Retail Group’, who claim sales grew by a healthy 15% in 2016 – exceeding £130billion in sales.
In today’s modern climate, this highlights how valuable an online presence – with a fluid and flexible delivery service to boot – can be, to a business targeting consumers across the country. Certainly, with the world’s four biggest online markets; the UK, US, China and Germany set to grow to a total value of £645billion by 2018 – the delivery industry has become a fiercely competitive market.
Mehdi Daoudi, CEO and co-founder of Catchpoint, explains: “As more retailers reveal how much revenue growth comes from their online presence, the ability to constantly monitor how customers are experiencing digital services is going to be critical. It looks like the Great British Shopper expects a rich and responsive online experience that enables them to find and pay for what they want with minimum fuss.”
However, as the online sales market broadens and matures, so does a customer’s intolerance to poor experience and shoddy online practice. In fact, as many as 73% of online shoppers state they would switch to another retailer if they did experience poor service.
This is particularly concerning given that 53% of shoppers have recently experienced a problem with an online order during the last 12 months, compared with 47% the previous year.
Key Consumer Issues
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The biggest concerns faced by consumers who had experienced a problem ordering online, were: late deliveries (42%) and missed deliveries – despite customers being present at the time of delivery (36%.) Duly, 60% of UK adults feel the retailer should be responsible for resolving delivery problems, compared to just 33% who believe it should be the delivery company.
There was an increase in incorrect items received (21% – up from 15% in 2015) and damaged items received (26% – up from 22% in 2015.) Other issues included; consumers never receiving an item (24%) and no items received, despite the delivery company stating otherwise (12%.)
When it comes to how consumers feel about resolving the issue, 66% who had encountered an issue said they had received a good experience, overall. However, there was still a substantial amount that claimed they had experienced continually bad service (26%.)
Clouder.co.uk decided to speak first-hand to a handful of consumers, to find out about their past online experiences and if they feel retailers need to step up their game.
“I have had terrible experiences with a ‘leading’ online delivery service, on several occasions. This includes a valuable parcel being left in a wheelie bin, with no card posted to notify me it was in there; it nearly ended up being collected by the bin men! I have also had deliveries turning up as early as 6.30am, or as late as 11pm; when you are explicitly told, it will arrive between 8-6pm only. It’s ridiculous.”
“I ordered formal dresses for an event via an online marketplace site that had received really good reviews. The dresses arrived, looking extremely cheap, and the beads had fallen off and I was not happy. I had to return the dresses to individual retailers, not the company I had ordered from. The entire returns process was a disaster and the most appalling service. I had to chase retailers independently to ask if my packages had arrived. I was not once informed by the retailer I purchased with, nor the brands I had returned to. It seems that no one knew who to contact. Not to mention, the accounts department was sitting on my refund money, pretending I had been refunded. After a month of arguments, I finally received my money back in dribs and drabs.”
“I bought something from an infamous online marketplace – only to receive the wrong item. If this wasn’t frustrating enough, I then had to wait over a week for a returns label to be sent to me. On another occasion, a well-known delivery service left an item completely exposed on my front doorstep, as nobody was home at the time of delivery – in full view of every passer-by.”
“I have had online deliveries forced through the letter box, which are clearly beyond its dimensions – completely trashing my order. I have also had items left with a ‘neighbour’ several doors down, without receiving a note to tell me exactly which house it’s in! Unbelievable.”
What Consumers Want
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When asked what the most important factors are for online shopping and home delivery, consumers gave their three most important factors: cost (52%), convenience (27%) and speed (16%.)
Evidently, cost is a prime concern and a third (33%) of consumers admit they would seek a different, less convenient collection option, which may take far longer, simply to acquire free delivery. A further 29% admit that they purchase additional items just to exceed the minimum order value threshold to qualify for free delivery. While 31% go as far as looking elsewhere, at competing retailers, to see exactly who offers a delivery service which does not impose restrictions and charges on its customers.
Certainly, it seems retailers may not be doing enough to meet the needs of their customers. In 2017, shoppers want free, fast and an accurate delivery of items and, it does appear that many retailers are showing signs of struggle in keeping up with these modern-day demands.
Tomas Zalatoris, CEO of Clouder.co.uk, comments: “Customer satisfaction should be a priority in any business. At Clouder, we recognise the fast pace and precise nature of meeting consumer expectation in 2017; which is why we delivery free of cost and include a 1-hour delivery time, no matter the order, to retain our customer base and to ensure they are satisfied from start to finish.”