By Pamela Connellan

Half of surveyed Aussie and Kiwi consumers head in-store or to competitors when faced with website difficulties and the same number prefer the service they receive in-store, according to the latest survey, commissioned by Rackspace.

The survey of more than 1,000 online shoppers across Australia and New Zealand conducted by PureProfile, found almost half (45 per cent) of surveyed online shoppers have abandoned a purchase after experiencing frustrations with a website, while 47 per cent have gone to a different website to purchase the same product.

Nearly half of shoppers surveyed preferred the service they received in-store
The same survey found 43 per cent of shoppers preferred the service they received in-store and nearly a third (29 per cent) have given up entirely with online buying and gone back to the high street shops.

The types of frustrations experienced with online shopping are many and varied, but the top three frustrations reported were: too many pop-up advertisements (42 per cent); service online is not the same as in-store (34 per cent); and too time consuming to narrow down options available (28 per cent).

A high number (83 per cent) of those surveyed started their shopping online for the convenience but 44 per cent thought traditional retail outlet shopping was quicker if they knew what they were looking for.

Extra online frustrations
There were more frustrations with 42 per cent of shoppers reporting that online search categories don’t match their required criteria, while another 42 per cent said websites didn’t provide options specific to their search. Thirty-seven per cent said that some sites only give one search filter option.

Director and general manager Rackspace ANZ Angus Dorney said, “People shop online due to the convenience it offers, but they are being driven away because they aren’t able to navigate through to purchase quickly and easily enough. Retailers should apply the same simple old-fashioned customer service values to their online site, as they would to the physical shop front. It should be inviting, easy to navigate and helpful.”

The online-retail trade off opportunity
Three quarters (76 per cent) of Australian surveyed shoppers believed shopping online is cheaper than in store. In fact, more than a third (36 per cent) have chosen an item in a retail store, but waited to go online to purchase it at a cheaper price.

General manager at Gee Multimedia Jeremy Krause said, “Online…. you are competing with far more stores and brands than you ever would offline, so building brand loyalty and being smart with your marketing spend is what generates the cut through. We see this with the customers of our clients — who are always on the hunt for a superior user experience, attractive pricing and quality range and to be rewarded for their loyalty — all of which lead to higher conversion rates and greater customer retention.”

Making male shoppers feel connected and important
The experience of feeling more associated and significant when purchasing items online, is one big area for improvement, particularly among male shoppers. Almost a third (31 per cent) of men would like to feel more connected and important when they shop online.

Rackspace’s Angus Dorney added, “According to our survey, the average online shopper in Australia and New Zealand will spend 15.5 minutes browsing for an item on an online retail site. That’s a massive amount of consumer capture time, as well as spending potential that is being missed by online retailers, simply because of issues on their websites.

“The key for web stores is to make sure it works from the ground up first. Cloud gives retailers unmatched levels of computing power to manage their big data flows and give them real time analytics to refine their search functionality.”

Online marketing plays an important role
More than half (54 per cent) of online shoppers said there was more variety online, while 37 per cent used web search filters and 24 per cent used online search tools for inspiration.

The survey found only one in five (21 per cent) surveyed shoppers received personalised marketing emails. However, by offering a discount on an online retail site, more than two thirds (69 per cent) of shoppers would click through to the email.

Finally, only 15 per cent think that targeted adverts are hitting the mark and 19 per cent of Australian shoppers said that targeted adverts would improve the online shopping experience.

Chief Information Officer of SLI Systems Michael Grantham said, “This survey shows that not enough retailers are leveraging powerful and available site search and navigation solutions that give consumers a rewarding shopping experience.”

“SLI technology, used on over one thousand retailer sites worldwide, quickly and effectively presents shoppers that use the search box, with relevant results. Also B2B and B2C retailers that adopt our site search technology reveal higher average order values, substantial increases in conversion rates and higher revenues,” he added.

Rackspace commissioned independent online market research company PureProfile to undertake this piece of research. 1,013 online consumers from Australia and New Zealand were interviewed throughout April 2015. Respondents came from an even distribution of demographics, with 758 from Australia and 255 from New Zealand.