Benchmarking the Digital High Street

Ecommerce is an area of consistent growth. Our own research reveals that over a third of online shoppers (36%) have increased the amount of online shopping they do over the last year. Of course this has an impact on retailers.

For all sorts of products and services, consumers are increasingly turning to the web to make their lives easier but, as the online market matures, so too do consumer expectations.

We conducted consumer research to gauge the expectations of online shoppers and identify the make-or-break factors for consumers parting with their money online. We then took these findings and assessed the websites of 25 of the UK's top retailers against our best practice benchmark, to see just how many are meeting the expectations of today's web-savvy consumer. The areas we looked at were overall website experience, browsing, buying and after sales.

Are retailers ticking the right boxes and delivering an engaging and rewarding web experience? Or are they risking customer loyalty, extra revenue and market share by underestimating consumer expectations? This report reveals all, and offers practical advice and real-world examples to show how online retailers can improve to meet and exceed expectations.

Key findings in the UK ecommerce performance index 2012

Website usability

Online shoppers place the greatest importance on easy navigation (92%) around retail websites and effective product search (89%), which retailers largely seem to have covered. However, a quick and efficient checkout process is also viewed as important or vital to their online shopping experience, and many of the retailers that we assessed are falling short here.

Completing the purchase and checkout

The most important thing for consumers is to see clearly defined shipping costs (92%) but the average score for this was only 75%. Hidden delivery costs are also the number one reason for online shoppers to abandon a purchase, so transparency is key. The main disconnect between retailers and consumers was revealed to be in clearly displaying returns policies. The vast majority (88%) of consumers said this was important or vital, but only one in ten retailers show this information during checkout.

In delivering the best possible customer experience, retailers need to consider the entire online shopping journey and the overall website experience,browsing stage, buying stage and after sales.

Here's how our top performing retailers are balancing the key areas:

 Top performing retailers in the UK Ecommerce performance Index 2012

Notice how Amazon, the top scorer, has scored an even spread of points in each of the four key areas. This shows that the company has carefully considered the entire shopping journey and implemented best practice at every stage. This is a key area that reatilers need to consider. What do they currently offer the customer in these different areas and is there one area that needs further development? In our report that is available for download, we have gathered practical tips on how this can be achieved. As always, we will be happy to take questions and feedback!