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UK retail picks up but online experience lets shoppers down
Thu, 21st Mar 2024

The British retail sector is beginning to show signs of recovery, yet research from leading integration specialists Celigo reveals that many brands are not offering the customer experience required to capitalise on this trend. According to a consumer survey conducted by Celigo, 85% of UK shoppers were let down by online retailers at least once over the past year, with increased pricing, late deliveries, and excessive shipping costs cited as significant concerns.

As per the research findings, despite positive indicators within the sector, inflation and the prospect of high prices top the list of consumer worries. Nearly half (44%) of UK respondents are planning to reduce their shopping due to the need to tighten their purses. This lacklustre online shopping experience is particularly pronounced amongst Gen Z shoppers, who demonstrated more dissatisfaction than older generations.

The report also highlighted the particular habit of Gen Z shoppers to rely on social media as a source of information and the power of product reviews in influencing their shopping decisions. For instance, 43% of Gen Z respondents declared TikTok to be their primary source of shopping insights.

This discouraging trend of unsatisfactory online shopping experiences has been recognised by Mark Simon, Vice President of Strategy at Celigo, who noted the high expectations consumers have of online retailers. "Shoppers expect more from online retailers, demanding free guaranteed on-time shipping and deeper price deals and discounts – or else they will purchase elsewhere," said Simon. With these heightened customer expectations, online retailers need to enhance e-commerce operations, integrate back-office management, and refine their omnichannel selling strategies.

The Celigo survey identified prominent discrepancies in online shopping sentiment across various age groups. While one-third of Baby Boomers reported satisfactory online shopping experiences in 2023, Gen Z, set to hold over a quarter of global income by 2030 and therefore slated to be the most influential shopping demographic, expressed significant dissatisfaction with online shopping.

Another noteworthy finding of the report is the instrumental role of product reviews in influencing buying decisions. An impressive 60% of consumers depend heavily on product reviews found on retailers' websites when making their final purchasing decision, with 41% turning to third-party review sites. Interestingly, 43% of Gen Z shoppers indicated TikTok as their primary source of insights, highlighting the shift from traditional methods to social media platforms for product research and as a potential influence for purchasing decisions.

This customer experience survey underscores the pressing need for online retailers to strategise and improve their e-commerce operations, packaging, and delivery management and their overall customer service experience that extends to handling customer queries and concerns to capitalise on the burgeoning retail market.