Nah, nothing to do with Brexit, thank God. Today’s article (13th November 2018) on the BBC website detailing Britain’s best and worse online ecommerce websites is an interesting insight into internet users’ requirements and also the standard of service offered by retailers.
Which? group asked over 10,000 of its members to take part in an online survey to rate various online shops based on their experiences of the websites in the last six months. The results, from a certain point of view, are not that surprising but do massively emphasise the importance of customer focused website design.
Possibly one of the most frequent complaints from consumers of any sector is the standard of service they receive from suppliers or retailers, be they energy suppliers, banks, utility companies, online shops, etc. The internet has led to a seismic shift in how we shop and consumers these days demand a more tailored and personal service than ever before and, for better or worse, ‘getting exactly we want quickly and conveniently’ is now firmly rooted in our psyche. If retailers don’t provide this then it has an effect on our perception of the brand and also influences where we shop in the future.
Top of the pops in Which?’s survey were LizEarle.com, RicherSounds.com and SeasaltCornwall.co.uk, amongst others. These sites were rated over 90% for user satisfaction which was due to having easily-navigable websites, providing an excellent (online) personalised service and favourable prices and quality product ranges.
Notable sites that are down in the dumps are WHSmith.co.uk, B&Q and Homebase.co.uk. Among the reasons for sites being at the lower end of the survey is that some offer poor user-experience, customer service isn’t great and there is less focus on a personalised experience.
Smaller companies tended to do better than bigger companies in this survey and this is not necessarily a new thing when it comes to consumer experience – it’s always been the case and people have always liked a ‘personal service’. But now that commerce has extended to the online world, it’s important that retailers keep up with the shifting moods, preferences and requirements of their customers. This is something that smaller, or newer, companies seem to have recognised, addressed and exploited. Dinosaurs of commerce can be slower on the uptake digitally, and should realise that an online shopping experience is not simply an extension of ‘real life’ shopping and because of the medium used (usually smartphones) customers do not react, interact and engage in the same way as they would in the white goods section of a department store – they have different requirements.
One of the things that we at Cyberfrog try to instil into our clients during website projects is that a website isn’t being developed for the company – it’s being developed for the company’s customers. This is customer focused website design. A website visitor should feel included and part of the relationship, not just a ‘hit’ or a ‘visit’ or an Adword conversion. This mantra, and perspective, goes a long way to ensuring that online customers feel that they are getting what they need, are being ‘spoken to’, and that their requirements matter to the retailer. Shop assistants at big stores talk to customers (sometimes too much!) and their websites should do too. If customers feel this, they will spend money.