With COVID-19 and many brick-and-mortar retailers temporarily closing their businesses, online shopping has been at an all-time high. However, this does not mean that e-commerce is the preferred way to shop — in fact, many consumers are becoming frustrated with the level of service they have received from online retailers during this time.
Research released from Wharton School’s Baker Retailing Center and Wiseplum provided insights that further prove some customers are not loving the constant frictions that arise with e-commerce. The Wharton/Wiseplum research pulled was using two separate surveys, from before and during the pandemic, gaining information from 5,000 consumers.
“Consumers are less forgiving and needing more from retailers during the global pandemic,” said Paula Courtney, Chief Executive Officer at WisePlum.
This is a common theme we’ve seen across the industry, especially right now. E-commerce is not a simple replacement for brick and mortar when crises arise. The current pandemic has given many a rude awakening to e-commerce constraints, specifically, the customer service experience. Shoppers are looking for an easy, seamless shopping journey whether they want to shop online or in-store.
“We are seeing brands looking for ways to improve customer experience; however, our research shows there is still a lot of friction in the experience and the pandemic has made this worse. Customers are experiencing more issues with their online shopping experience, proving that not all retailers are suitably prepared for this digital shift,” said Thomas S. Robertson, Professor of Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Lack of communication between retailers and shoppers has caused restrictions in the customer’s shopping journey. Wait times and queues have been at an all-time high recently for online retailers. If there were more options for consumers to communicate with retailers, some of this frustration could be avoided.
Another issue is keeping inventory available. With online items constantly going in and out of stock, consumers are often looking for an in-store pickup option. These annoyances quickly add up, especially if consumers can’t find what they are looking for.
Consumers expect more from the places they are giving their money to. In hard times like these, the last thing shoppers want to do is invest in a e-commerce platform who is not going to give them the service they deserve.
“Consumers have spoken and they’re looking for more from their retailers, proving to be less forgiving compared to pre- COVID-19,” added Courtney.
Among these findings, they also noted that those who have experiences e-commerce problems were 35% less loyal than those who were problem-free. Trust has become a crucial purchasing factor for many consumers. If you can’t trust e-commerce to provide you a reliable experience, why buy from them at all?