Consumers have a well-developed sense of what they do and don’t like about online shopping. If the experience your site is offering them doesn’t meet their expectations, they’re inclined to never return to your store. With customers this fickle and plenty of alternative retailers happy to take their custom, it’s advisable to pay attention to common customer bugbears and check you’re avoiding them.
Customers are particularly frustrated when they have to fill out their information multiple times – particularly if they are on mobile. A survey from Namogoo found this was by far the biggest frustration cited by the 1,400 US customers surveyed.
Another popular complaint was complicated website navigation. Customers on desktop particularly resented this frustration. Common navigational mistakes include having a layout that’s just too innovative – standard and predictable horizontal/vertical navigation style is always the best bet. Trying to be clever with your navigation design is actually just a way to frustrate your users.
Menus need to be labeled in a way that’s descriptive. And make sure your menus aren’t too crowded: you shouldn’t really have more than seven items in any menu, and ideally just five. Try not to cram too many links on your homepage, particularly for Western audiences used to uncluttered designs.
Organizing your content better should help reduce the temptation to do this. With close to half of all customers surveyed expressing a dislike for complex web navigation, you can’t afford to get it wrong.
Shorter is better
Users across all kinds of devices expressed irritation with having too many form fields to complete. There are a ton of studies that agree that longer forms tend to reduce conversion rates online. Yet the Baymard Institute claims that the average checkout process has double the number of fields that are truly essential to completing the payment. It seems retailers are just too hungry to gather data to actually listen to customer preferences.
You’ll find some exceptions to the rule that shorter forms are better, but generally, you can only get away with asking for more information if you have a really clever design. More questions require multi-step forms as a rule.
Research by the Baymard Institute suggest very short and very long step forms are no longer in vogue: top US retailers have on average between five and six online steps to check out.
Your best advice is to find out for yourself whether the length of your form is negatively impacting on your conversion rate. Consider running some A/B testing to see whether a shorter form will help boost your conversion and reduce basket abandonment. That’s particularly important in new markets when you’re not sure of local audience tolerance for online forms.
When asked why they abandoned the shopping process before finalizing checkout, customers generally cite surprise costs as a major factor. Customers dislike having to start the checkout process in order to find out what the shipping cost will be.
They are actually more likely to pay shipping costs if they know what they are right from the beginning of the process. Make them wait until the end of the process to find out the shipping costs and you’re just likely to annoy them – angry customers that feel tricked are likely to abandon their basket at this point due to a loss of faith.
There are several ways to avoid giving your customers an unwanted surprise at checkout. The one that customers most like is to offer free shipping. There’s a lot of evidence that eliminating shipping costs is a good idea.
Accent found 88% of customers are more likely to shop somewhere offering free shipping; Lab42 found 96% of customers had the same preference. While three out of five shoppers told Compete that they would not have completed their last online purchase had free shipping not been offered. An unsurprising 74% of shoppers said free shipping was the thing most likely to improve their online shopping experience.
If offering free shipping is not feasible for you as a retailer, then make sure you’re really upfront about the costs of shipping and keep them as low as you can.
Research five years ago by eDigitalResearch and IMRG found customers were putting items in their basket specifically to check what the shipping cost would be. It’s far better to tell customers up front what the cost will be and they feel you’re being more open with them when you do so.
Zooplus, the pet supplier that’s one of the UK’s most popular eCommerce sites, puts its standard shipping policy front and center on the website.
You can also try letting customers have some control over the costs of shipping. Sainsbury’s, one of the UK’s largest supermarkets, offers variable costs for home delivery, which lets customers choose a more or less expensive slot depending on what time and day they want their delivery for. Other retailers, including Amazon, let customers opt for faster delivery at higher cost. The sense of being more in control can help reduce user frustration.
Although retailers know they need to minimize customer frustration, they often find it hard to implement the changes that customers want. Customers consistently prefer free shipping, yet not all retailers feel they can offer it. Customers also say they hate long forms, yet research suggests retailers are on average offering forms that are twice as long as they need to be.
In a cut-throat retail environment, it’s unwise for any retailer to fail to pay attention to customer frustrations. It’s advisable to take note of what your customers say is frustrating them if you want to excel in online sales.