by Angela Delaney

5 pet peeves of online customers: how your business can avoid classic mistakes

The growing domination of the online retail market is set to continue, as more and more customers choose to buy online rather than venturing onto the high street. Despite this, the e-commerce industry remains riddled with classic, easy-to-avoid errors that rub consumers up the wrong way.

Here is our roundup of the top five customer pet peeves about shopping online, and what you can do to avoid making the same mistakes as your competitors.

Lack of upfront pricing

One of the biggest benefits of shopping online is that customers can easily search for their desired item across as many websites as they can find. Savvy shoppers compare and contrast until they find what they want at the price they can afford. So if they make the decision to buy the item from your store, make sure you don’t then shoot yourself in the foot by adding on lots of extra charges, or changing the amount in-store to one higher than the advertised amount.

Check that your messaging is consistent across all of your platforms - paid advertising, social media, newsletters, billboards, TV adverts and so on - to avoid driving your customer away at checkout.

In addition, make sure your pricing is clear throughout the purchasing process - don’t make your customer wait until the final step of completing their order to keep track of how much they’re about to spend. And if your customers have a discount code, give them the opportunity to enter it at the very beginning of checkout so they can see exactly how much they’ll save.

woman on laptop

High shipping costs added to the shopping cart

Nobody likes high shipping costs, especially not ones that add significantly to the initial cost of the item in their basket, and definitely not ones that mean the product is now the same price - or higher - than is advertised on a competitor's website. After all, it may be that the lower advertised cost of the products you sell is what caught the consumer’s eye in the first place.

However, offering free shipping isn’t always an option either, especially for small-to-medium-sized businesses. Consider using an online price comparison site such as World Option’s shipping portal to make sure you get the very best deal on delivery charges, the savings from which you can then pass on to your customers.

In addition, consumers like choice, so consider giving them back an element of control over their purchasing by offering them a variety of prices for shipping, such as next day delivery, standard delivery, nominated day delivery and so on. And, if it you can make it work for your business, offer free delivery on shopping baskets that hit a specific minimum value.

Forcing your customers to create an account

Anything that slows down your customer getting their hands on their shopping is a big turn off, and can seriously affect the number of abandoned baskets you get. Lengthy registration processes that require shoppers to set up an account before they can check out can force many to walk away simply due to lack of time, or frustration.

To avoid this classic pet peeve, offer your shoppers the choice of creating an account or simply checking out as a guest. After all, once you’ve got their order you can always follow up in their email confirmation with a sign-up call-to-action, perhaps with a tempting discount for their next purchase if they create an account.

Items no longer in stock

Your customer has done their research and decided that your company offers them the best deal. They browse through the website, click on their desired product category, add in their preferred size or colour filters, locate the perfect product, click on the preview image and then… oh dear. The item is no longer available.

Another fearsome customer pet peeve - when the item they so carefully searched for, using the very filters available on your website, is out of stock. To avoid this error, make sure your product categories and filters are up to date and working smoothly, stock up on goods well in advance of busy periods, and, if worst comes to worst, offer to notify the customer once the item is available online once more.

Unclear delivery times

If your customer needs something by Tuesday, then make sure they know whether or not their order will arrive by Tuesday. If you customer is ordering on a Thursday or Friday, and they need to know whether to arrange delivery to their home or work address, make sure they know when they can expect their order to arrive.

Information and transparency are key to managing customers’ expectations and avoiding any dramas later on down the line. Explore whether your company can offer precise delivery time slots or guaranteed next day deliveries. At the point of sale, offer your customers the opportunity to leave instructions for the delivery person so there’s a plan of action in place if no one is available to sign for the package.

And at busy times of the year, keep your customers in the loop by informing them across your website of the last dates are you are able to guarantee delivery by.

If you want more confidence in keeping track of your packages, and ensure your customer satisfaction levels remain high, consider using World Option’s online shipping portal to get clear, up-to-date delivery information including tracking and proof of delivery.