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Poor online experience hampering NZ businesses

Poor website performance is driving New Zealand shoppers to the competition costing retailers sales, according to new research commissioned by Rackspace.     The survey of more than 1,000 online shoppers across Australia and New Zealand conducted by PureProfile found that almost half (45%) of surveyed online shoppers have abandoned a purchase after experiencing frustrations with a website, while 47% have gone to a different website to purchase the same product.   The research suggests these online frustrations are driving user spend back to bricks and mortar retailers.   

While 83% of those surveyed shopped online for the convenience, 44% thought traditional retail outlet shopping was quicker if they knew what they were looking for and 43% preferred the service they received in-store.    In addition, nearly a third (29%) have given up entirely with online buying and gone back to the high street shops. 

The types of frustrations experienced with online shopping are many and varied, but the top three frustrations reported were too many pop-up advertisements (42%), service online is not the same as in-store (34%), and too time consuming to narrow down options available (28%).   Rackspace says, “When executed effectively, online retailing has the potential to offer a vast marketplace to consumers who are suddenly able to access a far broader choice of products and services regardless of distance. More than half (54%) of online shoppers said there was more variety, while 37% used web search filters and 24% used online search tools for inspiration.   In contrast, 42% of shoppers reported that online search categories don’t match their required criteria, while another 42% said that websites didn’t provide options that are specific to their search. Thirty-seven per cent said that some sites only give one search filter option.   “People shop online due to the convenience it offers, but they are being driven away because they aren’t able to navigate through to purchase quickly and easily enough,” says Angus Dorney, director and general manager, Rackspace ANZ.

“Retailers should apply the same simple old-fashioned customer service values to their online site, as they would to the physical shop front. It should be inviting, easy to navigate and helpful.”    “This survey shows that not enough retailers are leveraging powerful and available site search and navigation solutions that give consumers a rewarding shopping experience,” says Michael Grantham, chief information officer of SLI System, an eCommerce acceleration provider for mid- to large-size internet retailers and a Rackspace Cloud customer.  

The online-retail trade off opportunity Shopping online also provides better deals, Rackspace says. Sixty four per cent of surveyed shoppers from New Zealand believed that shopping online is cheaper than in store. In fact, more than a third (36%) have chosen an item in a retail store, but waited to go online to purchase it at a cheaper price.   Rackspace says there is a big opportunity for online stores to win shoppers through value added offerings and more intuitive online shopping options and settings. Seventy-nine per cent of surveyed women and 67% of men want the option of free returns or same day delivery to be made available to them, while more than half of all shoppers (57%) want simpler checkout service. Thirty-seven per cent felt that online shopping should be easier and more intuitive.   “There’s no doubt that online retailing holds far more potential to offer customers more variety without the same overheads you expect from a traditional storefront,” says Jeremy Krause, general manager, Gee Multimedia, developers of online retail sites across the Asia Pacific region. 

“Online, however, you are competing with far more stores and brands than you ever would offline, so building brand loyalty and being smart with your marketing spend is what generates the cut through.”

 “According to our survey, the average online shopper in Australia and New Zealand will spend 15.5 minutes browsing for an item on an online retail site. That’s a massive amount of consumer capture time, as well as spending potential that is being missed by online retailers, simply because of issues on their websites,” Dorney says. 

“The key for web stores is to make sure it works from the ground up first. Cloud gives retailers unmatched levels of computing power to manage their big data flows and give them real time analytics to refine their search functionality.

“Ultimately, a powerful search function can take customer data in the form of preferences, habits and buying behaviour to then combine it with online and real world information. The result is a personalised, unique and, most importantly, an easy online experience for shoppers," says Dorney.