How to attract online customers and keep them coming back

Martin Ryan, VP, MD, Asia-Pacific, Dyn

The stakes are skyrocketing for retailer and e-commerce executives around the world — who, for years, have been struggling to keep pace with consumer demands — regardless of where, when or how customers are shopping. 

Technology advancements, while giving retailers and e-commerce companies new ways to reach their customers, have been just as much of a blessing as a curse. Consumers have the power of choice and the world of online retailers at their fingertips. Winning and keeping customers is only getting harder. So, what’s holding customers back from shopping more online and what makes a superb online shopping experience?

Slowness and security concerns hinder online shopping growth

The majority of consumers surveyed are not abandoning online shopping sprees because they change their minds or run out of time to make their purchases. Online sales would be higher and grow faster if retailers and e-commerce companies could improve website speed and ease consumer fears about security.

Slow-loading websites and skepticism around security get in the way of completing a purchase for nearly two-thirds of those surveyed globally.

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. However, consumers across Asia-Pacific are extremely sensitive to website performance and security.

A survey from cloud-based Internet performance company, Dyn showed that two-thirds of global consumers leave websites at least 25 percent of the time without buying anything because they’re tired of waiting for the website to load. 

That’s true for 75 percent of those in both China and Malaysia. In fact, in Malaysia, fewer than 6 percent of consumers surveyed are willing to wait. Fifty-seven percent of consumers will leave a retail or ecommerce site if it’s slow. Consumers surveyed in China are 2-3 times more likely to go directly to a competitor’s website when a website is slow.
Superb online experience equals personalization?

Contrary to popular belief, a personalized experience doesn’t appear to be nearly as important. Findings from Dyn’s survey highlighted three core elements that are paramount to an exceptional online shopping experience. 

The three elements are same quality experience whether shopping online, on the phone or in-store; help customers find what they need faster; and, an improved overall site appearance and customer experience. It only takes one hiccup —a n unavailable or slow website, hard-to-find products, or security shortcomings—to send a would-be customer to shop elsewhere and possibly never return.

I. Consistency and quality

Consumers in every country surveyed desire more consistency, quality, and reliability when shopping online, on their mobile devices and in stores. This is especially important in India, with 64 percent of consumers indicating this was important. The exception was in China, where 62 percent of consumers believed that delivering a more personalized experience should be at the top of retailers’ to-do lists. 

II. Find what you need—faster

Website performance has a tremendous impact on skeptical consumers—no matter what device they are using. Of those who are the least trusting of websites with slow performance, nearly 65 percent of all consumers surveyed are not willing to wait more than three seconds for a website to load and of those, half expect websites to load instantly.

Consumers in China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia have the lowest tolerance for slow sites. More than 80 percent of those surveyed in China would not wait more than three seconds for a website to load, and more than half of those people expect sites to respond in 1-2 seconds. Among all consumers surveyed, those in Malaysia also have the highest expectations for sites to load instantly.

Retailers and e-commerce companies are losing sales and the potential of life-long customers because of poor performing websites. Of all consumers surveyed who are the least trusting of websites with slow performance, barely 50 percent in Singapore are willing to give that site a second chance.

III. Improve overall site appearance and user experience

A robust Internet infrastructure is critical in ensuring an optimal experience for customers regardless of whether they shop online or on a mobile device, and encouraging repeat visits to your website. 

Whether your customers are accessing your website from home on their computer or on-the-go with their mobile device, a solid infrastructure means that they always experience the same quality performance quickly. Even when an outage occurs, they can still reach your site if your network can reroute traffic to different global endpoints to help thwart an attack.

What’s in it for online retailers and e-commerce companies

I. Lost revenues

For nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed globally (60 percent), slow websites are what get in the way of completing a purchase. Forty-one percent of consumers in Singapore will go to another website to make a purchase. Consumers can be demanding and unforgiving; retailers need to make that first impression count or risk losing customers to the competition.

II. More business opportunities, not just locally but globally 

In 2015, worldwide web sales will increase nearly 21 percent to $1.592 trillion, according to eMarketer, and ecommerce will account for 6.7 percent of all retail sales around the world. Nearly 30 percent (28.5 percent) of consumers surveyed globally have never shopped online from retailers located in other countries.  

Bu if it were faster and easier to buy online from retailers located in other countries, 85 percent of consumers surveyed globally said they would consider doing it more often as they did in 2014 and of those consumers, 56 percent will likely buy more online. 

Consumers in Singapore and Hong Kong are among the most frequent cross-border shoppers, with consumers making more than five online purchases from retailers in other countries in the past 12 months. Speed and simplicity are especially important in China, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia.

As long as retailer sites offer a quick and superb online experience, there is no reason why retailers can’t offer their products or attract customers across the world. The sky’s the limit. 

Step up or step out

There is no denying that retailers are banking on continued growth in online and mobile shopping to meet or beat sales forecasts. Poor performing websites put many retailers and e-commerce companies at risk of losing sales.
With the world of online shopping at consumers’ fingertips, it is time for retailers to step up to the plate and deliver the kind of experiences consumers have been searching for, before they find it somewhere else.