Survey shows shoppers select slick sites

Here's a good argument for investing properly in your website: a really bad one can seriously hinder your chance of getting repeat custom.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
On the high street, there are pretty reliable indicators that a particular shop should be avoided: the presence of knock-off phone covers or walking billboards, for example. Online, the signs may be less obvious - misspelled copy, perhaps, or strangely-cropped photographs - but they're no less offputting, according to a survey by brand consultants Wolff Olins. In fact, a dodgy website could do significant damage to a company’s reputation: according to the survey, 74% of consumers say they’d never return to a poorly performing website, and that rises to 84% if they happen to be a first-time visitor. Which makes us wonder whether MT favourite Yvette’s Bridal Formals gets any repeat business at all...

And it's not just those customers that retailers are likely to lose. The survey, of 2,000 consumers, found that two-thirds of shoppers share their experiences of online shopping with friends - whether good or bad. Being able to return an item without too many complications was the most important factor to consumers, and (because we’re an impatient lot) six in 10 said they’d be put off buying from a retailer again if their product arrived too slowly. On the other hand, just a quarter said that accurate product descriptions were the most important factor for them (although we’d argue that in the long-term, receiving the product we ordered a few days late is rather more useful rather than getting something random on time).

In fact, Wolff Olins reckons online retailers may actually be missing a trick. While on the high street, slick branding and expensive interiors come at a price, online, you can get a professional look without forking out huge sums. And apparently, 48% of consumers don’t believe that shopping on the high street offers a better experience than shopping online, which means e-tailers have a ‘tremendous opportunity to create loyal repeat customers’. In other words: go that extra mile and give your customers a little bit extra, and they’ll prioritise your website over rivals sites - and high street stores - any day of the week.

And who wouldn’t? As Maria von Trapp might have pointed out, had she been questioned on the subject: brown paper packages tied up with string beats dodging Saturday afternoon crowds any day...

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