Aldo Agostinelli

Not too long ago a friend of mine told me about what had happened to him in a shop in Rome: he asked the shop assistant if he could try on a pair of shoes but was told that the only pair that would fit him were in the shop window and could not be removed. Read in Italian.

My friend ended up purchasing the same shoes from a well known e-shop instead, knowing he would be able to try them on within the comfort of his own home and, if needs be, he could return them free of charge and have them replaced with a suitable size whilst the owner of the Roman shop lost a customer.

E-commerce service providers like Amazon or Zalando have revolutionized the concept of CRM. The above-mentioned behaviour is no longer acceptable neither within nor outside the cyber realm.

Consumers have now become used to the benefits of efficient customer service – the apologies in case of delays, easy refunds, free replacement of goods and fast replies to enquiries. Nowadays, troublesome or problematic shop assistants perturb customers. When they under-perform, customers promptly compare them with excellent (and often more convenient) eCommerce customer service.

Consumers have now become used to the benefits of efficient customer service

Indeed, customer care is crucial to any online or offline sales activity. This is confirmed by the data collected by the latest survey conducted by MetaPack, involving 3,589 consumers who had made a purchase in the USA, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy over the last six months.

Following a negative experience related to the shipment of their goods, 43% of the interviewees said they had not returned to the e-shop responsible for the delay or disruption for over a month. 38% said they would not go back there at all and 45% said that they had abandoned the content of their basket on a retailer’s website due to unsuitable or inadequate shipping methods.

Furthermore, consumers want to be given the final word when it comes to shipping options. 46% of interviewees said they expect to be free to make last minute changes to the shipment even after having placed the order online and 47% of those who live in big cities wished they could benefit from a 1-hour delivery service.

Free shipping is highly appreciated. Amazon’s efforts to satisfy this requirement have been acknowledged by 56% of consumers. The influence of the e-commerce giant is clearly affecting customers’ overall  expectations, to the point that 77% of the interviewees said they wished eCommerce websites would create reward systems assigning fast or free shipping to loyal customers. 86% said they would prioritise websites offering such options.

Aldo Agostinelli

It is clear then, that there is a close connection between competitive advantage and an expertise in logistics.

Returns are the second factor affecting competitiveness. 39% of interviewees said they always check return conditions before purchasing something online. 43% of them said they felt frustrated due to the difficulty of finding clear details about the return procedure on a host of eCommerce websites and 88% said they had returned goods in the past six months. Only 28% of survey participants said they were fully satisfied with the service provided.

The same research also revealed that consumers develop a strong emotional relationship with brands they trust and 83% of them rated the service provided by these companies positively.

Consequently, online retailers should seriously commit to keeping up with competitors given that both brands and producers are constantly developing and improving their business strategies, shipping services and return options.

How would you rate your experience with e-commerce so far?  Is it positive or negative? Why is that and what would you recommend e-stores do to improve?

Tweet me at @AgostinelliAldo or share your thoughts here.

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Aldo Agostinelli