Ecommerce Research Round-Up

Ahead of our Christmas ecommerce report, scheduled for release by the end of November, we’ve been feeding out a few findings.

We used an independent research agency to poll 1,000 consumers on their ecommerce shopping experiences.

Here’s a summary of the information we’ve released so far:

1)  Women think more of online reviews than men do.

Political correctness aside, I guess this makes sense. Having said that, I’m the kind of person that spends three weeks researching which product is “best,” and another month seeking out the lowest price. Online reviews play an important part in this process.

Yet our research showed 36% more women than men believed reviews to be “very important” when shopping online. That was 145 women versus 106 men – a statistically significant finding.

But it’s no surprise men want to “get in and get out”. (It’s an accusation that’s been levelled at us for millennia.) To pick a random example, look at birthday cards. In the offline world, I don’t spend an age trying to find the right card. I pick up whatever’s nearest, blank, and devoid of teddy bears and schmaltz – and it takes me about five seconds. (That’s when I’m shopping alone. Take my wife or mother along and I feel obliged to loiter. I saw the card I’m going to end up buying the moment I glanced at the stand, but I go through pantomime um-ing and ah-ing because I don’t want to be told off for not putting thought into it.)

Of course, this doesn’t mean taking out reviews on your site. It’s not even a dog-whistle issue; men might value them less, but they still value them. They’re also incredibly powerful for your website’s search engine optimisation. Why spend the time and money creating fresh content the search engines love when your customers can do it for you, for free?

2) The top three reasons for cart abandonment are: security concerns, fussy forms and enforced registration, in that order.

I’m probably a bit naive, but I was surprised security made the top of the list. I guess I’m just a bit gung-ho about the whole thing, feeling my credit card adds a layer of invulnerability to the buying process. But we calculate risk by multiplying the chances of something happening by the consequences if it did. And getting ripped for a wad of cash (or worse, having your identity stolen) is a pretty grave consequence.

The solution here seems pretty clear: keep your website up-to-date with current usability best practice, and bring out the third-party security icons. A couple of people also specifically pointed out that they felt comfortable with a known payment provider (such as PayPal). If you think a potential customer might have doubts, take a look at how your sire looks, because it’s an issue that would make 52% of those polled leave your site for good.

Fussy forms

Problematic forms are a bread-and-butter issue for us at Postcode Anywhere. And as the research shows, it’s with good reason: they’re a huge turn-off for consumers, with 44% identifying forms that “take too long to fill out” as a key reason for cart abandonment. Of course, we’d love to say that installing address auto-fill is a magic bullet for your forms, but it’s only one of the tools in your arsenal.

The best forms only take the information they absolutely need, and split the process into manageable chunks. As ever, stores like Amazon show how it should be done (although it’s such a disappointment they choose to validate address information after it’s typed in, rather than auto-complete it. We believe this simply cannot be the best way to do the job – so sort it out, please!)

Another form-filling crime is to enforce sign-up before allowing customers to buy. It’s the equivalent of being stopped at the till and to made to sign up for a loyalty card before being allowed to continue. The difference online is you’re one click away from leaving the store and going elsewhere. Apparently, this problem is grievous enough to make 38% of consumers do just that.

3) Nearly two-thirds of consumers see delivery timeslots as important when buying online.

That’s a fairly substantial number, and it shows that you’ve got to have your eye on the ball at both sides of the order and fulfilment process.

Now you can enter our prize poll below for a chance to win a £50 Firebox voucher in plenty of time for Christmas. Please register on the blog when you enter the poll below if you want to be entered for the draw – we need you to do this so we can email the winner. All you have to enter is your email address and come back to complete the poll! Competition closes at midnight on 19th October 2011.

What percentage of consumers in our poll saw address auto-fill as something "you expect to see" when buying online?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...