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Web Woes Hurt Storefront Sales

Frustrating online experiences are making consumers less inclined to shop at the retailer’s physical store, according to a recent report by Allurent, an e-commerce consultancy based here.

Of the 636 respondents to Allurent’s Holiday Shopping: Online Customer Experience survey, conducted in January, 59 percent said a frustrating online shopping experience has a negative impact on their overall opinion of the retailer or brand, up from 55 percent in 2005.

“The line between off- and online brand experience is blurring,” said Graeme Grant, Allurent’s sales and operations VP. “An online store needs to provide the same exceptional customer experience as the store’s physical location in order to build and maintain customers’ familiarity and resulting loyalty with the brand. Retailers not only leave money on the table when they provide an inadequate customer experience online, they risk overall damage to their brand that can have a direct impact on their other sales channels.”

The survey found that customers were more likely to buy from sites that offer more interactive and engaging features. For example, 74 percent of respondents said they prefer pop-up windows with more product details, and 70 percent want to add selections to their shopping carts without leaving the page. Other top-rated features included better imagery and more product details (68 percent), single-page checkout (64 percent) and the ability to mix and match product images on one page to see how they look together (47 percent.)

Fifty-three percent of respondents reported buying more holiday gifts online in 2006 than they had the previous year. What’s more, 66 percent plan to increase online shipping during the 2007 holiday season based on their online shopping experience last year.