eCommerce Customer Journey Frustrations Revealed!

Whether it’s a slow website or having to pay for returns, a poor customer experience can make for some lonely carts. Find out why your customers are parting with their cash elsewhere – and what you can do about it – below.

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or your friends and family, a dodgy customer experience can stop you from parting with your cash. From inadequate customer service to paying for returns (the cheek!), that all-important final purchase can be paved with many an obstacle along the way.

And as frustrating as it can be for shoppers, a poorly designed customer experience can be disastrous for the business itself. Without an optimised site, customers can easily take their money elsewhere, leaving you for your competition in a haze of abandoned carts and glitchy web design.

But why do so many shoppers find the eCommerce customer journey so frustrating? To find out, we investigated things further in order to unearth the reasons behind their irritation. A word to the wise: if your customer experience looks anything like the below, it’s time to optimise – we’ve even thrown in some top tips to help you create the ideal eCommerce journey for your business from here on.

The method: what we did

To find out what rankled online shoppers the most, we surveyed 1,000 members of the general public, asking them about a range of issues they would be likely to encounter during the online shopping experience. Taking into account the entire journey, from browsing a website all the way to purchase, we then asked participants to rank certain shopping situations on a scale of 1-10 at each stage of the journey: pre-purchase, during purchase and post-purchase.

We also split the results into different age groups to see if these shopping-based setbacks differ from generation to generation.

Key findings

ecommerce customer service key survey stats graphic
  • A large group of our participants (46%) said that it would take two bad experiences for them to stop purchasing from an online retailer. This was closely followed by 2 in 5 (40.1%) who said that it would only take just one bad experience
  • Over a quarter (27.6%) said that post-purchase is the most important time when it comes to customer service
  • Just under two-thirds (66.4%) stated that within a day would be an acceptable timeframe to hear back from an eCommerce retailer’s customer service team
  • Just under 1 in 5 (17.4%) said that within an hour would be an acceptable time frame
  • Some were more lenient in their responses – within a week accounted for 8.3% of the results, although a small handful (4.8%) want a response from eCommerce retailers within 10 minutes of contacting them

The Top eCommerce Customer Frustrations: Pre-Purchase

top pre-purchase ecommerce customer frustrations graphic

It may be the least important time for customer service according to our survey results, but the pre-purchase period was still rife with frustrations for our participants.

From our results, products that are still live on site, but in reality, out of stock proved to be the biggest issue, with a lack of search bar a close second. Not far behind that, a slow website was another major issue for shoppers. A large volume of participants also pointed to a lack of filtering options when searching for products onsite, showing that people are less inclined to trawl through page after page just to find a specific item.

Interestingly, despite the general move towards more mobile-optimised or app-based experiences, a lack of any app to use in favour of a website scored just 3.2/10 on our Frustration Meter.

The Top eCommerce Customer Frustrations: During Purchase

during purchas ecommerce customer frustrations graphic

The checkout screen; a page that can make or break many an online purchase. Get it right and it’s purchase confirmation bliss. But as our results show, getting it wrong can make shoppers turn away in droves. And clearly there are many, many reasons that things can go awry.

Chief among them, valid discounts failing to provide those glorious deductions were the primary culprit. As a matter of fact, even finding the box to enter the discount code was a major headache, vying with products inexplicably disappearing from shoppers’ baskets for second place.

Elsewhere, a lack of a ‘guest checkout’ option proved frustrating, while no express delivery option or “buy now/pay later” were minor grievances in comparison, but grievances all the same – especially in the ongoing need for instant shopping gratification.

The Top eCommerce Customer Frustrations: Post-Purchase

top post-purchase ecommerce customer frustrations table

Your shiny new delivery has arrived, and it’s time to wear it, exercise with it or use it for whatever. One snag though, the item in question isn’t to your liking and now you need to sort the situation. Back to the site you go.

This is the time for a business’ customer service department to swoop into action, allay the customer’s concerns and make sure the returns process goes as smoothly as possible. But things aren’t always that easy in the world of eCommerce, and the post-purchase phase can throw up just as many frustrations other parts of the customer journey.

Sharing the top spot, the product not looking like it did on site and having to pay for returns (an increasing eCommerce no-no) both scored 8.4/10. In second place, a lack of human customer service was another issue, while a policy of ‘exchanges only’ comes in a tied second.

Compared to the previous two stages, not a single situation in the post-purchase phase scored lower than 6. This reinforces what our participants also thought: the most frustrating part of the journey is having to deal with an unsatisfactory item after it has arrived. 

The Top eCommerce Frustrations by Age Group

biggest ecommerce frustrations by age group table
  • All age groups found that ‘valid discount codes not working when entered’ was the most frustrating situation at the ‘during purchase’ stage
  • For ages between 18-54, along with the 75+ group, the majority said that two bad experiences would be enough to stop them from purchasing from a retailer
  • For 55–74-year-olds, the majority said only one bad experience would be enough to stop them from purchasing from the eCommerce retailer
  • In terms of customer service, out of pre-purchase, during purchase and post-purchase, the majority of all age groups other than 75+ said that all three are as important as one another
  • Equal parts of the 75+ group voted for pre-purchase, during purchase and all three as their responses to the above question
  • All age groups agreed that within a day would be an acceptable timeframe to hear back from an eCommerce retailer’s customer service team, although 1 in 5 of 18–24-year-olds, 40–54-year-olds and 55–74-year-olds expected a response within an hour

Top Tips for the Ideal eCommerce Journey

top tips for the ideal ecommerce journey infographic

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