New Research Reveals Connections Between eCommerce and the Science of Frustration

By Matthew Furneaux, Lead Analyst, Loqate

Most retailers continuously review their eCommerce data, taking a closer look at customer behavior to make new discoveries or identify problems in the customer experience. However, a lot can be learned by looking beyond cart abandonment data or the number of delivery forms not being completed. The smartest retailers ask, “why is this happening and what’s driving it?” Most importantly, they look at the science of consumer behavior and use it to avoid frustrating customers in the future by improving the experience.

With fierce competition for a seamless online shopping experience, psychology may have a lot to offer retailers hoping to understand what motivates consumers, or better yet, what frustrates them to the point of abandonment. For example, how does retail frustration manifest and what are its most common drivers?

To answer these questions, Loqate teamed up with the psychology department at Goldsmiths University and neuroscientist, and author of Sort Your Brain Out, Dr. Jack Lewis, to measure how our brains and bodies respond to online shopping experiences. The study observed a range of potentially frustrating scenarios, or those that would yield the emotional state a consumer experiences when trying to reach a goal only to encounter an obstacle that temporarily or permanently thwarts their progress.

What Frustrates Online Shoppers?

Using an EEG (electroencephalogram) and ECG (electrocardiogram), scientists compared online shopping experiences, such as a delivery arriving late, with having a bike being stolen or getting stuck in traffic. The results showed that online shopping frustrations evoke very similar brain activity to these everyday obstacles. Although shopping online and getting stuck in traffic don’t appear to have much in common, they affect the brain in a similar way.

So which retail experiences left consumers so frustrated that they avoided returning to that online retailer?

  1. A delivery arriving too late for an important event, despite paying extra to receive it on time.
  2. Spending an hour waiting online for tickets to an event, only to have the website crash when it’s time to pay.
  3. Having a delivery returned because the consumer’s address couldn’t be found.
  4. After waiting all day for an online furniture purchase to be delivered, the retailer pushes back the expected delivery date.
  5. Not knowing if a purchase went through when clicking to confirm a purchase and a spinning wheel appears.

Inaccurate address data or lost and late delivery led to three of the top five frustrations. When asked to recall which scenarios they found particularly annoying from the experiment, participants most often cited delivery problems.

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Best Practices for Avoiding Common eCommerce Frustrations

At its core, eCommerce exists to make the lives of consumers easier. It’s a mantra that eCommerce managers live by, but by continuing to deliver frustrating experiences, retailers risk losing sales and diminishing customer trust. Fortunately, the most common eCommerce failures that lead to consumer frustration are avoidable with these five best practices:

1. Understand what customers truly want.

While it might seem that slashing prices is the way to a customer’s heart, it may not be entirely true. Research shows that 44% of consumers who have a poor checkout experience won’t return, meaning that the devil is in the details for retailers seeking customer loyalty. After all, attractive products can only go so far.

2. Capture accurate addresses in real-time.

Whether it’s a lapse in concentration, the slip of a finger on a mobile device or a missed field, customers often unknowingly provide incomplete or inaccurate address information. This faulty data impacts a retailer’s ability to deliver to the right address, leading to delays, customer frustration and costly redelivery fees. However, a real-time type-ahead address capture solution allows retailers to collect accurate customer addresses in online forms and checkouts. Not only is it the quickest and easiest way to capture address data, it’s also the friendliest solution for mobile commerce.

Remove friction from checkout. Speed and convenience are key driving factors when buying online, particularly when using mobile devices. Making mobile experiences as frictionless as possible is critical. One way to do this is by implementing a geolocation tool at the stage of customer address entry. Using single-tap technology, geolocation allows shoppers to click a button and their current location is found, eliminating the need to enter an address. Additionally, geolocation reduces friction, resulting in happier customers, higher conversion rates and improved data quality.

Prevent common errors with fuzzy matching. Fuzzy matching is the term used for matching two searches that are not 100% the same. A fuzzy matching tool detects missing letters, spaces, transposed letters, misspellings and abbreviations and automatically finds the correct address to provide cleaner, more accurate data. For example, a customer might type ‘raod’ instead of ‘road’ or abbreviate Boulevard to Blvd. Fuzzy matching  recognizes these common mistakes, identifies the address the shopper is looking for and returns the full, valid address. This is particularly useful for mobile devices, which may produce more typos, and when customers send gifts directly to others but may not know the correct spelling of the recipient’s address.

3. Be open to change.

eCommerce sites can always be improved. The phrase ‘job done’ simply doesn’t exist. 42% of purchases on mobile phones are abandoned, 38% on laptops and 36% on tablets. If every retailer were to convert these percentages into exact figures, it would send shockwaves through the industry. While every missed sale can’t be attributed to an inadequate website, making the necessary changes to ensure every transaction is a smooth experience can go a long way.

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