Ecommerce is booming, but shoppers still frustrated with online retailers

By Paul Skeldon August 30, 2018 - 6:24 am

Ecommerce is booming, not least in the UK, and this summer has seen deliveries sky-rocket as staycationing families sit in the garden and trawl Amazon. But they are frustrated

Despite the UK being one of the most sophisticated e-commerce markets in the world, consumers do not appear to enjoy the online shopping experience.

A survey of 1000 UK adults and 1000 US adults – through personal data and insights platform CitizenMe – AI and blockchain powered ‘find engine’ Zwoop, reveals consumers’ serious frustrations with online shopping and concerns about how companies are using their data.

When asked about common e-commerce issues, shoppers from the UK and US reported experiencing the following:

Top five problems shopping online UK and US
Rank UK % US %
1 The item you are looking for is out of stock 64 Unexpected charges on top of your purchase 53
2 Unexpected charges on top of your purchase 46 The item you are looking for is out of stock 48
3 What you buy is not delivered on time / when expected 39 It takes a long time to find what you want 47
4 What you want is only available abroad 34 The check out process is too time consuming 44
5 It takes a long time to find what you want 32 You can never find the exact product you are looking for 41

 E-commerce monopolised

The survey revealed that the typical consumer’s e-commerce experience is dominated by a few large companies. Amazon is the starting point for online shopping for 47% of people in the UK, and 37% people in the US.

In fact, 94% of Brits and 90% of Americans start their online shop on Amazon, eBay or a search engine, leaving little market space for online retailers or competing marketplaces.

This reliance on a few sites means that shoppers are not necessarily getting a true view of the options available to them, which many customers recognise. In the US, over a third (36%) admitted that they don’t bother to compare prices between different sites and almost half (46%) think they could have found a cheaper price if they looked for longer. Even more people in the UK (55%) think they could have found a better price if they’d kept looking.

“The world of e-commerce is dominated by a few large companies who control the market. The majority of consumers start their shopping experience with these giants by default, because searching the whole of the internet has been next to impossible, at least until now, and don’t even consider looking at other websites. Most worryingly, 79% of UK adults said that they believe the websites they use are designed to find them the best deals. In reality, that is not the case – search engines, for example, do not show results on the best deal, it’s done on SEO and ultimately marketing spend.”

– Alessandro Gadotti, CEO, Zwoop

 Customers unhappy with how their data is used

In addition to buying grievances, the survey also uncovered a trend of a more fundamental concern – how retailers are using customer data. On both sides of the Atlantic, customers reported increased sensitivity about how their data is being used by retailers and third parties (84% in the UK, 78% in the US claim that they are more conscious of how their data is being used compared to a year ago).

The scale of the challenge facing retailers is underlined by the fact that 67% of UK adults, and69% of US adults said they were uncomfortable with how their data was used.

“While it’s encouraging that consumers are more aware of how their data is being used – probably thanks to the Cambridge Analytica revelations earlier this year – their dissatisfaction is not being met with real change. This research shows that the vast majority of people do not like how their data is being used, yet they are stuck using the same sites regardless. Companies are taking advantage of customers, and there needs to be another option. This is an area in which the use of blockchain – which can transfer control of personal data from the retailer to the individual – holds much promise.”
– Alessandro Gadotti, CEO, Zwoop

Image: Fotolia

  • Steven Elkins
    9 months ago

    all companies that collect and use data should be required by law to show the use of that data for as long as it is held. This should be free and transparent and subject to fines if not complied with in a short period, say 24 hours. Of course this will involve lots of storage and processing – if a company is not prepared then don’t collect data. simple.

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