How many of you have increased your online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic?

According to UN statistics, global online shopping has risen ten percentage points as of October 2020. 

And this isn’t just happening in retail – the demand for digital is affecting all industries. Pressure has been placed on consumer goods and manufacturing companies to create B2B experiences that are just as compelling as the B2C experiences that their buyers have become accustomed to having in their personal lives.

Learn more about B2B Ecommerce trends and what they mean for youRead: Buyers Want B2C Experiences

In either case – B2C or B2B – frustrating Ecommerce experiences can lead to significant losses for your brand. In this blog, we explore some of the most common frustrations in Ecommerce and their long-term implications.

For Customers: Relevance

If you were in a grocery store and asked an associate for an alternative to ‘red potatoes’, what would you expect to get? 

Probably not wine. 

A Coveo employee recently found themselves in this scenario while online shopping, purely because the search engine was associating the word ‘red’. 

In-store, a good associate would suggest a different type of potato. They would also make quick judgements based on the kind of person they think you are, what new products are available in-store, and the recipe you’re planning to make. As a result, they may point out ingredients that you didn’t realize were necessary and perhaps even suggest a new recipe for the perfect french fries. 

One of the biggest frustrations for online shoppers (B2B or B2C) is that the online experience doesn’t mimic the personal nature of the in-store experience – the products and product information presented to them are out of line with what they need. That is because search is fundamentally broken on a lot of Ecommerce sites, and when it does work, it doesn’t integrate across channels, surface content, or re-order based on the shopper’s intent.

In order to deliver the relevant shopping experience that your customers expect, factors such as the following must be taken into account when it comes to surfacing results: 

  • Previous purchases
  • Items being viewed in the current session
  • The products typically purchased along with the items being viewed

You can also use this information to deliver compelling content recommendations and reorder products based on profit margin or association with customer loyalty. The data that is already at your disposal can go a long way.

Discover how to do more with less...dataRead: Powerful Personalization in Ecommerce – No Big Data Required

For Businesses: Lack of Flexibility

As a business owner, your customers are your most valuable asset. You must be able to identify and respond to their wants and needs quickly. In 2021, with the world changing rapidly, attaining those abilities is more important than ever. 

That being said, if it takes a long time to test a new experience, integrate legacy systems, or reach shoppers on the latest social network, then you need to reconsider the technology you’re using. 

Often, Headless Commerce is cited as an option for brands who don’t want to be limited by their technology. But, there is a perceived risk of cost and complexity to headless and other DIY-commerce solutions. 

That’s precisely why a new approach, backed by Gartner, has surfaced as a possible solution for brands who want the control to create unique experiences and the simplicity of traditional SaaS solutions. This approach is called Composable Commerce

Composable Commerce is a business-centric approach that leverages a modular architecture and an open ecosystem so that brands can rapidly build and deploy Ecommerce experiences.  This way, when TikTok explodes your market overnight, you can respond without a huge development effort and are not confined to the bounds of your roadmap. 

Bryan House, SVP of Product Management at Elastic Path, commented, “While you have unlimited access to MACH-based commerce capabilities, we have taken it a step further by democratizing DIY commerce, so you never have to settle for rigid cookie-cutter solutions or bear the risk of relying on overly complex solutions; no matter what your Ecommerce team looks like or your needs are.”- Bryan House, Senior Vice President, Product Management. 

For Customers: Checkout

Never before have customers been so overwhelmed by information. The average UK customer, for example, gets 121 work emails a day, then fills their lockdown evenings with Netflix and doom-scrolling. 

At a time when people are continually staring at screens for everything from work to social engagements to the news, brands need to stand out with simple and engaging shopping experiences, especially when it comes to checkout.

Providing various payment services such as Apple and Amazon Pay and reducing distracting pop-ups or menu bars make a big difference. Even allowing for guest checkout has a substantial impact – research shows that the pandemic has overwhelmed our collective nervous systems, making us more forgetful of things like login details.    

Complete an audit of your checkout and A/B test different experiences to see where you can improve the process. The more streamlined the path to purchase, the easier it is for shoppers to complete their transactions.

For Businesses: Cost

One of the biggest reasons brands are shifting to Composable Commerce is its positive impact on long-term Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  For some brands, traditional Ecommerce is still suitable, but for those, brands that want the speed to keep up with customer demands, attaining the flexibility to adjust experiences without major resource or budget implications is vital. 

It’s paramount for brands to see a fast path to revenue with any technology investment. That is why some Composable Commerce vendors actually offer accelerator services to help you get online and make improvements quickly so that returns can be seen right off the bat. For example, Coveo customers typically see a 10-20% uplift in Average Order Value (AOV), and a 15-30% increase in conversion rates due to improved relevance and personalization.

For Customers: Fulfillment

How many times have you been shown out-of-stock items when searching for something? Or worse, been sold an item, only to be refunded a few days later when it couldn’t be fulfilled? 

Stock is one of the most critical issues for Ecommerce businesses, affecting customers and brands alike. 

As discussed by eConsultancy’s Ben Davis, as a user there’s nothing more frustrating than finding something you like and then not being able to order it. eConsultancy elaborates, “Making stock-outs not immediately visible creates confusion and intensifies the consumer’s loss experience, thereby reducing the tendency to buy in the category. Suggesting a replacement item facilitates the substitution decision and slightly reduces the purchase cancellation rate. It also substantially increases the suggested item’s choice probability.”

Ease of delivery is also an essential component of the experience: most customers want the option to click-and-collect and don’t want to pay for delivery. According to Shopify, offering your customers free shipping is one of the best ways to reduce shopping cart abandonment and create positive sentiment for your brand. 

For Businesses: Lack of Visibility

Many businesses and brands struggle with the lack of visibility – and this plays in a couple of ways. One operational data management provider stated, “So many retailers are still reliant on paper-based methods of managing their business, or at best, spreadsheets. One of the biggest frustrations for retailers moving online that we see is that they don’t know what is already working for them in the physical world. We estimate this lack of operational visibility costs retailers millions”. 

The lack of visibility is echoed by Salesforce’s research as well – 9 in 10 IT leaders say that data silos are the biggest challenge in their business. Lack of connectivity in the customer journey, from marketing to sales to service, is not only frustrating but also adds to the relevance problem, i.e., remarketing products that the customer has purchased. The digitization and unification of data into a single source of truth is critical, as it is what will allow you to see and understand the entirety of a customer’s journey. 

Dig Deeper 

At a time when experiential expectations are at an all-time high, digital tolerance is at an all-time low, and online shopping options are many, shoppers will simply jump shop if they experience the above frustrations. And it is critical to mitigate your own frustrations in order to begin to address theirs. 

Watch this bite-sized learning series “7 Turnoffs that Make Shoppers Abandon You” to discover what’s driving your customers away and what you can do to make them stay in a way that works for you. 

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About Brian McGlynn

Brian McGlynn is the VP of Commerce at Coveo. Brian has 20 years of experience in the high-tech industry. Brian’s experience has focused around content management, search, and e-commerce. Brian has held roles in sales, consulting, and general management. Brian’s experience spans from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies like HP and IBM. Most recently, as General Manager of Intershop’s North American business, Brian led the organization’s recent growth in entering new market segments with B2C and B2B commerce offerings. At Coveo, Brian gets to converge his background in search, content management, customer analytics, and e-commerce into Coveo’s Commerce business.

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