Online retailers disappoint customers – here’s how

Most online shoppers are at least occasionally let down.

It appears that online customer service could use some improvement.

The 2024 Online Retail Trends Report, a survey of more than 1,500 U.S. and U.K. consumers commissioned by integration platform as a service (iPaaS) Celigo, revealed that 88% of U.S. and 79% of U.K. respondents said that online retailers failed to meet their expectations at least once in the past year.

Respondents from both countries cited increased pricing, late deliveries and excessive shipping costs as their primary frustrations with e-commerce. In addition, inflation and higher prices were the top concerns across the board, with 42% of U.S. and 44% of U.K respondents planning to shop less online because they need to tighten their budgets.

[Read more: How consumers are controlling spending]

The top reasons U.S. respondents would cease the buying relationship with a retailer were receiving products that do not accurately match their descriptions (39%), excessive shipping costs (38%) and late deliveries (32%).

Gen Z is not satisfied

There was a significant difference in online shopping sentiment across generations. While one third of all surveyed baby boomers reported flawless online shopping experiences in 2023, Gen Z respondents reported the greatest dissatisfaction with online shopping with 92% of Gen Z respondents in the U.S. and 85% in the U.K. reporting at least one negative online retail transaction within the past year.

What shoppers want

The survey also delved into the most important qualities consumers seek in online retailers, how they research and buy products, and spending intentions for spring and summer holidays:

  • U.S. respondents cited lower prices (59%), free shipping (53%) and fast shipping (33%) as the three most important offerings when choosing an online retailer. They also stated convenience (52%), greater access to product offerings (48%) and lower prices (34%) were their primary reasons for shopping online as opposed to brick-and-mortar retail stores.
  • More than 40% of all respondents said they will be seeking out online deals for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, while 37% said they will visit websites and digital marketplaces for summer vacations.
  • Six-in-10 respondents rely heavily on product reviews found on retailers’ websites when making their final purchasing decision, while 41% turn to third-party review sites. 
  • More than one in three (35%) respondents said they research multiple retailers and more than 20% turn to marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay to compare pricing options.
  • In the U.S., more than 70% of Gen Z respondents rely on social media and TikTok to research the products they buy. Nearly 60% of this respondent demographic chooses Amazon as their top research method while 52% use search engines like Google.

“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 Mark Simon, VP of strategy at Celigo. “To fulfill these raised expectations, online retailers must improve e-commerce operations, back-office integration and omnichannel selling strategies well before the holiday 2024 season begins.”

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