The rise in online shopping was already a guarantee 18 months ago, but for many the past year has rapidly accelerated their move to a more digital-focused lifestyle. Shopping via a website or app is now second nature to many of us, millions more so since lockdown forced previously reluctant consumers to shift their spending online.
Which is why it is more crucial than ever that businesses ensure their digital platforms are operating efficiently, effectively and with the customer front of mind.
However, in ‘The Hybrid Consumer’, a joint research project Curious conducted with YouGov recently, we discovered a staggering 46% of people have had such a terrible online experience that they have abandoned their digital shopping baskets before checking out. Purchases that were within moments of being completed ditched in response to a bad website, be it poor functionality, complexities or design that was tricky to navigate.
And this is not an historic problem: at the end of 18 months working, shopping and socialising online, one third of respondents report these problems occurring in the past year.
For retailers this represents an easily addressed yet potentially catastrophic problem. While businesses spend hours fixating on the marketing funnel – ways in which to raise awareness of their brand, how to muscle in on the consideration phase, getting to the intent to purchase point in the process – not enough are considering the end point, namely the performance of the site or app to which they are driving new and existing customers.
Web design need not be a complex concept. In fact, our study found consumers weren’t especially interested in unique design or originality, preferring functionality. Respondents cited functionality and visual distinction as key drivers for a positive online experience, with as many as 93% agreeing that functionality is important when using a brand’s digital platform, with visual distinction next on the list of priorities, at 73% and just over one in four of those polled (26%) saying a unique experience is also important.
Creating originality when it comes to product design is one thing as that is key to standing out on the supermarket shelves – digital or in person – but marketers must not make the mistake of thinking this is something consumers want from their branding as a whole. Edgy websites that operate differently to the vast majority do not inspire easy, slick navigating, they simply serve to cause confusion, slowing down what is ideally a smooth, speedy process.
Some of the most successful online businesses operate a simplistic digital presence. Think Amazon. Or Instagram. The secret to their success is they are accessible, look clean and are easy to navigate.
UI and UX are equally important for retailers in an online space, but there is an important balance to strike with the two working together to create an effective overall experience. All good web designers will work with this knowledge in mind; something perfect for a brand’s audience on paper can be hard to use if the UI is bad, while a good UI is something that looks great, aligns perfectly with the brand and is tailored to what the user needs.
For brands to succeed in the digital retail space it’s integral that they understand what their audience wants and needs when it comes to a website or app. User testing is a great approach to gaining this insight and will enable a brand to learn about how their site is navigated under realistic conditions. The process will throw up any areas which could cause a user to drop off, allowing the brand to improve their online platform, by smoothing out the consumers’ journey.
And when it comes to knowing what the user needs, the good news to come out of our research was that there is no longer any discrepancy between the numbers of older and younger people shopping online. We asked our respondents if they planned to continue shopping online after the pandemic and only 3% fewer people aged 55 and over said they would, compared to 25-34 year olds. This should be music to the ears of marketers of age agnostic brands who, until now, might have been implementing a focused drive to attract the older generation of shoppers. Our enforced lifestyle changes of the past year have, it seems, done all the hard work for them.
Now is the time to harness these online consumers – new and seasoned – with effective, engaging websites that serve the purpose of providing a positive, uncomplicated experience. To fail to close a sale at the point of purchase is a huge waste of an otherwise effective marketing journey. Retailers that put as much thought into their web or app offering as the rest of their branding will be rewarded with a fall in abandoned baskets and a rise in satisfied customers.
Download the report now
To download the report visit curiouslondon.com/a-curious-report-the-hybrid-consumer/
Credit: Tom Primrose, Brand Strategist, Curious London