Decline in online customer experience will leave UK retailers struggling to compete in 2019, report warns

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The UK’s top e-retailers are seriously jeopardising sales by not prioritising on-site customer experience, according to an industry index report.

The research, carried out by leading ecommerce and digital agency Visualsoft, forms part of the company’s second annual e-retail performance report. It analysed the industry’s top 250 names and found failings across a number of website performance metrics, which could have an extremely detrimental effect on profits.

Almost one in five (19%) retailers fail to optimise their onsite search with functions such as autocomplete, well-targeted product suggestions or relevant recommendations. Including these features can double a store’s conversion levels, highlighting a clear missed opportunity.

Moreover, only 37% of retailers make use of live chat or virtual assistant services – a figure which has dropped by 2% in the past 12 months. Studies show that this “humanising” aspect of an online brand, in which customers can receive an instant response to their queries – can boost conversion rates by as much as 40%.

More than a third (35%) of online shopping basket abandonment is due to customers being asked to create a customer account prior to purchase. However, 67% of retailers analysed forced shoppers to follow this step. This extra hurdle alone could be costing retailers dearly in missed sales.

Lastly, retailers also performed poorly in terms of ease of purchase. The analysis found that more than one in 10 e-retailers have eight or more steps before purchase – a figure which is likely to deter many customers from spending.

“Great customer service is a key facet of bricks-and-mortar retail. However, online stores must also ensure that their site provides an enjoyable and simple buying process, with easy access to help should they need it. Not only does this engender brand loyalty (as consumers are more likely to come back to a site that they found simple to use), it also increases sales.Of course, many may not see these metrics as critical as long as consumer appetite for online shopping remains strong. But, as we head into what promises to be a very difficult 2019, the retailers that thrive will be those that get the basics right. News of a profit slump at ASOS proves that online brands are not immune to today’s difficult retail landscape and should be doing all they can to maximise sales opportunities.”
– Gavin Lowther, Head of Social, Visualsoft

2 Responses

  1. Ebay themselves have not addressed this.

    Customer expectations are for a smooth checkout, working properly, combining items when they buy more than one item.

    Instead, buyers and sellers have to put up with a botched checkout, with no clear instructions to customers about the basket. Buyers are forced to pay immediately for items and the basket disappears on overseas sites, because they can’t cope with the currencies. In any case, most buyers don’t know about the basket because Ebay does not tell them !

    If there is one thing Ebay could sort out in 2019, it’s the checkout.

    Come on, Rob Hattrell, earn your salary and get this fixed.


    And start refunding overpaid fvf fees to sellers as a result of separate payments as well.

  2. wildly ironic that these results are coming to us from visualsoft. i would put a fair portion of these failings down to visualsoft (and similar companies) approach to charging for web services.

    want autocomplete on your shopify store? click this button.
    want autocomplete on your visualsoft store? that’ll be $1,700 and a 3-week wait.


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