2012 Online Shopping Customer Experience Study


Research Report Synopsis by Chris Kirby

In November 2012, VHT released the Online Shopping Customer Experience Study. The research investigated the online purchase experience of consumers across various devices including smartphone. By evaluating the shopping habits of consumers this report reveals the pain points consumers have to endure and their consequences for organisations.

A survey of 400 US consumers identified the following key insights:

  • 91.8% of consumers own more than one device (including desktop computer, laptop, netbook, smartphone, tablet, eReader).
  • The top three most often used devices for online shopping and purchasing are laptop (42.8%), desktop (37.5%) and smartphone (12.5%).
  • Nearly half of consumers (45%) are browsing online on a daily basis.
  • The top three categories consumers are purchasing online are Apparel (79.8%), Books (68.0%) and Household Goods (63.5%).
  • Nearly half of consumers (47.8%) spend $0-$100 per month with a further third (32.8%) spending an average of $101-$250.
  • The top 3 retailer websites visited are amazon.com (23%), Walmart (16%) and ebay (15%).
  • Nearly 6 in 10 (59.8%) of consumers report that they have been frustrated or had problems trying to make online purchases.
  • The top three frustrations expressed by consumers are ‘having problems correctly reading and using the captcha (60.3%), ‘having trouble using promo codes, gift card redemption, or with other discount’ (46.0%) and ‘the product was back-ordered’ (32.2%).
  • In addition nearly two thirds (59.8%) of consumers attempting to make an online purchase said they ‘Had been frustrated trying to obtain help to solve an online purchase problem.
  • When consumers experience an issue, 37.7% report they will leave the site or give up, 34.3% will seek further assistance, whilst 25.5% will shop elsewhere.
  • In most instances, consumers who seek further assistance will call customer service (46.3%) and a further third (35.4%) will use web chat to contact customer service.
  • When presented with a solution that provides a service whereby consumers can click or tap within the website/app to receive an immediate or scheduled callback from customer service, nearly half (49.8%) rated this as extremely desirable and nearly two thirds (63.3%) reporting they would be extremely likely to use it.
  • Nearly two thirds of consumers (61.5%) report they would be ‘very likely’ to purchase more products through a website or app that offers a click or tap customer service help solution.

This report highlights there is significant opportunity for organisations to alleviate some of the frustrations consumers have when shopping online. The key conclusions highlighted include:

  • Consumers regularly experience issues when shopping online that often requires additional follow up with customer service via the contact centre or web chat. These issues can lead to a lost sale and potentially negative perceptions of the retailer. Therefore there is a real commercial opportunity to helping consumers connect more easily to customer service by providing technology that bridges the gap between the website/app and customer service more effectively.
  • Further, retailers should consider that online shoppers use a variety of devices. The online shopping experience, then, should be optimised across devices and screens to provide a streamlined path to assistance.


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Dr Catriona Wallace defines Customer Experience Strategy.


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