Bridging the perceptions gap between consumers and online retailers
Online and mobile shopping is on the rise around the world, providing retailers and e-commerce companies with a tremendous opportunity to grow their revenue and global footprint if they can meet consumers’ changing needs and expectations.
While the perception among IT executives is often aligned with what consumers are expecting and experiencing when shopping online and on mobile devices, it is nowhere near where it needs to be to support consumer interest in shopping virtually more often.
According to a Dyn-commissioned survey through the International Data Group (IDG), IT executives are optimistic that online sales will continue to rise and represent a larger percentage of total sales. Of those surveyed, nearly 93 percent expect online sales to increase by 25-75 percent in 2015. Very few (less than 4 percent) believe that online sales will be stagnant or declining.
In Asia-Pacific, IT executives are even more optimistic, with 97 percent expecting online sales to increase by 25-75 percent. Also, more than in any other region, 25 percent of those surveyed expect online sales to increase by 75 percent or more.
According to eMarketer, Asia-Pacific is expected to become the leading region for e-commerce sales in 2015, representing 33.4 percent of the total, compared with 31.7 percent in North America and 24.6 percent in Western Europe.
While these numbers showcase a strong and growing e-commerce opportunity, the majority of global retail purchases are still made in stores according to Dyn’s Retail Customer Expectations Report in February. It showed that 40 percent of all consumers surveyed still prefer to shop in physical locations, where they are making roughly 75 percent of their total purchases. Bottom-line: there is something about the online experience that is holding consumers back from buying more and more often.
Perception differences between IT executives and consumers
Most retailers and e-commerce companies do not have a clear understanding of exactly what is getting in the way of delivering the fast, easy, and secure online and mobile shopping experiences consumers have come to expect. Perception and reality are at odds in the following areas:
Quality experience whether shopping online, on the phone or in-store: Consumers in 6 of the 11 countries surveyed—out of which 3 are in Asia -Pacific, namely Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore — clearly prefer the service and experience they have when shopping in stores to online and mobile.
A higher percentage of IT executives surveyed in Asia-Pacific (22 percent) than in any other region believe there is no difference in the experience the consumers get when shopping online, in store or on mobile devices. Yet 88 percent of consumers surveyed in that region believe there are very clear differences.
Slowness vs. security concerns: When it comes to what is holding consumers back from making more purchases on mobile, more than 40 percent of all IT executives think consumers are most concerned about security when in actuality, the number one barrier holding consumers back is that the mobile shopping experience is not as fast and easy as shopping online.
IT executives in Asia-Pacific also underestimate the impact of navigation — only 17 percent of those surveyed believe that navigation is holding consumers back from making more purchases on mobile devices, yet nearly 30 percent of consumers say that is why they are not making more mobile purchases.
The overall user experience: When asked where consumers expect to see improvements in the online shopping experience, IT executives and consumers gave different responses. While finding what they are looking for faster is important to more consumers than a personalized experience, more IT executives are putting a greater emphasis on the latter.
Quick fixes for quick wins
One finding stayed consistent in both reports: website performance has long-term implications for consumers. The IT executives surveyed globally acknowledge that the speed and quality of website performance affects a consumer’s trust in that company.
In fact, 88 percent of IT executives feel that is the case, in step with reality that 86% of consumers agree. In order to compete and win the online global shopping war, consumers unanimously agree that online retailers need to:
• Ensure the same high-quality experience whether shopping online, on mobile, or in-store.
• Help consumers find what they need faster.
• Improve overall site appearance and the user experience.
Here are three easy things that e-commerce companies can embark on to optimize their online infrastructure:
Improve the website’s performance: Since every customer’s first visit to a website starts with a Domain Name System (DNS) query, avoid making customers wait for the website to load.
Resolve DNS queries faster and route customers to the optimal endpoint for performance. The best way to do this is by outsourcing to a managed DNS provider that has a vast global network and proven experience.
Additionally, avoid website outages due to DDoS attacks (when services of a host connected to the Internet is temporarily or indefinitely interrupted or suspended) by rerouting traffic to different global endpoints to help thwart an attack.
Create a seamless and consistent omnichannel experience: Whether customers are accessing the website from home on their computer or on the go with their mobile device, putting in place features like active failover will ensure that they can always reach the website and experience the same performance, even during an outage.
What’s also good to have is load balancing, which allows one to route customers based on their location (country, state, or province) when they are traveling abroad without compromising on website performance.
Keep an eye on Internet trends: Don’t let avoidable slowness or website outages happen. Monitoring and analyzing current Internet conditions can help retailers make important infrastructure decisions to help improve the overall website performance.
Understanding how the perception between IT executives and consumers differs is a good starting point. Ultimately, what consumers want is a fast, easy and secure online and mobile shopping experience. Focus on creating an optimal end-user experience, and never allow poor website performance drive away customers.