Why clear product information is key at Christmas

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With less than a month to go until Christmas, GS1 UK is advising retailers and sellers who trade products online to ensure their product information is correct and up-to-date on listings or risk losing customers.

A YouGov survey commissioned by GS1 UK found that 91% of adults said it was important to view product information before buying Christmas gifts online. If product information is missing, more than 1 in 2 Brits would consider not using that company in favour of going to a competitor.

This is a particular bug bear of mine, it’s easy to forget that seemingly innocuous information is actually quite important to some consumers. As an example, before I had my house plastered I buried the TV cables (Power, 2 x HDMI, Arial and USB) into the wall. As a consequence I’m only interested in TVs that use a figure of 8 power cable – if a telly requires a kettle lead I’m not interested but very few retailers (or manufacturers) bother to specify the power connection type.

When asked what they would do if they received an incorrect Christmas gift ordered online and found it was wrong due to the incorrect display of product information online, 45% of British adults would complain to the retailer, 42% would send the gift back and expect a refund and more than a third (35%) would return the gift and hope the correct one arrived in time for Christmas.

In the same situation, only 14% of Brits would make sure they told others about the retailer’s mistake and less than 1 in 10 would post their grievances on social media to ensure more people knew.

And 1 in 3 adults have experienced buying a gift online but when it arrived, found that it wasn’t the product they were expecting.

GS1 UK commissioned the YouGov survey to understand how consumers viewed product information when purchasing gifts online and what were the consequences if retailers were not adopting industry standards when presenting information about their products.

A not-for-profit membership organisation, GS1 UK sets standards that help organisations to identify, capture and share information on any product, asset or location with their trading partners and customers in the UK and across the world.

Other key Product Information findings

  • When asked what might be a reason for receiving a wrong gift bought online, 35% of Brits said it would be because the online product information was incorrect or inaccurate and more than 1 in 3 said the online seller retailer shipped the wrong product. Only 17% suggested that it could have been their fault as they might not have been paying attention to what they were buying
  • When British adults aged 55 and over were asked about their experiences with buying gifts online, 70% had not experienced receiving the wrong gift, 96% said being able to see all the information about a product was important and if product information was missing, 68% would consider not using that online seller and go to a competitor
  • or 18-24 year olds, 40% said that if they received the wrong gift bought online it was because the seller got the information was wrong. But when asked what they would do if product information was missing, 64% would remain with the seller and refrain from going to a competitor
  • In instances where there were three or more children in the household the consequences of having missing product information while buying gifts online was less severe. Only 31% would complain if they received a wrong product due to the incorrect display of product information and 64% would remain with the seller instead of going to a competitor if product information was missing

Gary Lynch, Chief Executive of GS1 UK, said that it is important for retailers and sellers trading products online to have clear product information as more and more people are buying gifts via their phones and tablets, especially in the build-up to Christmas.

“Buying gifts online is quick, easy and can all be done from the comfort of your sofa or while having your lunch at work. Having the right product information is imperative as it provides consumers with all they need to know about what they’re buying in an instant, including such things as the dimensions, colours and even where it was made.

Overall, retailers are doing a fine job in providing robust product information. But what our survey demonstrates that if they fail to provide comprehensive information about their products, they run the risk of receiving complaints, suffering the costs and administrative nightmare dealing with returns and even lose customers to their competitors. This would be disastrous, especially in the run up to Christmas.”
– Gary Lynch, Chief Executive of GS1 UK


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