Convenience, flexibility and seamless are the top 3 buzzwords that sum up the ultimate online shopping experience, according to a new report entitled ‘The Pulse of the Online Shopper’.
Over 19,000 consumers across the globe took part in the survey, which was conducted by comScore, to reveal the top elements of a smooth and satisfying ecommerce encounter.
Not surprisingly, free shipping ranked high on shoppers’ wish lists, even when placing orders with overseas websites.
Mobile also featured heavily, as consumers highlighted their desire to jump between devices when researching and buying products.
Some retailers are struggling to optimize their mobile experiences, however, with unclear website images, difficult to read text and trouble comparing like for like items ranking highly on consumers’ mobile commerce pet peeve lists.
The survey also highlighted one of the biggest transitions the industry has witnessed in the last 12 months: the growth of multi-device retail. Online shoppers now want to jump in and out of their journey to purchase throughout their day – picking up where they left off, even if it was on a different device. And when they make a purchase, they crave an equally flawless fulfillment experience.
This poses a number of challenges for retailers, though, as they need to balance operational activities in several locations with orders flying in from an equally complex web of consumer activity.
For businesses to meet the needs of today’s technology-driven consumers, it is vital to combine ecommerce, eBay and Amazon inventory management with any offline activities, in order to successfully manage demand in all channels.
All the free shipping in the world is useless if an order isn’t available for dispatch, and that boils down to balancing stock in all locations – something today’s multi-channel retailers are constantly trying to perfect.
The explosion of shopping across multiple devices has made this task even more difficult, as it can be hard to predict how and when an order will be placed.
For example, consumers may look up an item using an app on their smartphone in the morning, then visit the desktop website at lunch time and add it to their basket – at which point the retailer believes it is likely to be purchased.
However, the consumer changes their mind and decides to carry out a price comparison, which leads them to Amazon. They get distracted, before logging back into the online marketplace in the evening from their tablet and ending up purchasing it from there.
This means that although digital activity has taken place in other channels, Amazon’s inventory management system will be handling the final fulfillment.
In these situations, the retailer can feel torn about where best to locate stock. Yes, Amazon made the final sale, but it could have been down to bad timing that an order was not placed through their direct website during the day (for instance, a colleague tells them to try a rival product instead, which knocks them off course).
The simple solution to dealing with this dilemma is uniting all retail order management systems into a single overview, which can present stock holistically across the business and delegate it centrally to the correct sales channel.
By behaving like consumers, and treating all channels as part of a single journey, retailers can flexibly respond to customer needs – and deliver the seamless experience online shoppers so highly desire.