31 May 2017, Written by David Simmons

WE'VE all had a bad online shopping experience.

Weeks of waiting for a pair of socks, items arriving broken, receiving the wrong item, and deliveries being missed (despite having waited all morning at home), all make us question whether online shopping is worth the few dollars saved.

Wouldn't it be easier just to go to a physical store?

Well, the figures back up our frustrations with almost three quarters of Australian online shoppers saying they'd switch to a new retailer if they had a poor customer experience with ordering an item online, according to the JDA/Centrio Customer Pulse 2017 Report.

This should cause some retailers to think twice about going pure-play online; Australians still love the reliability of buying an item in-store.

Of those surveyed, 50 per cent experienced late delivery, 41 per cent had missed a delivery despite being at home, 28 per cent never even received an item, and 23 per cent received incorrect items.

Australia in fact reported the second highest levels of intolerance of online shopping of the countries surveyed; only the UK had less tolerant shoppers.

These bad experiences have led to Australians favouring a combination of online and physical shopping: click & collect.

The convenience of picking out items online and the reliability of physically picking items up in store, click & collect, was used by 47 per cent of Australians surveyed.

The survey showed the key incentives of click & collect use were avoiding delivery charges (45 per cent), convenience (37 per cent), and greater confidence of receiving items compared with home delivery (26 per cent).

However, click & collect isn't perfect, with 68 per cent of those using these types of services saying they experienced an issue over the last 12 months, with problems ranging from long waiting times, staff in-store unable to locate items, and no dedicated click & collect area in-store.

Vice president of Industry Strategy at JDA, Patrick Viney, says investments into click & collect are starting to pay off, and this is good for the future of bricks & mortar retail.

"Encouragingly for retailers, it does appear their continuing investments in click & collect are starting to pay off," says Viney.

"Forty-one per cent of shoppers expect the shop to be their most popular channel, so it is clear that stores are not going to be disappearing any time soon."

"The physical store in Australia remains vitally important to domestic retailers that are fighting the challenge presented by overseas online retailers."

Niklas Hedin, CEO of Centrio, says online retailers need to pay more attention to the last-mile fulfilment aspect of online shopping to ensure customers enjoy the entire experience of the online shop not just the browsing online element.

"Retailers need to be more confident in their last-mile capabilities, otherwise these fulfilment issues will continue to reflect poorly on the overall brand experience customers receive," says Centrio.

"This is one of the reasons we have seen the likes of Amazon bring more of its delivery function in-house to erode much of the market share.

"Through improved visibility into delivery networks, retailers can help ensure that customer promises are kept."

Patrick Viney echoed this sentiment, saying that the big successes of online will be the ones who nail the final stretch of delivering the product into the customer's hands.

"The winners will be those retailers that can offer a reliable and convenient fulfilment service to consumers, rather than focusing on speed and price."

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Author: David Simmons





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