Insight: Retailers risk ruining Christmas for customers with unreliable product information – inRiver

 Research from product information management company, inRiver, reveals that retail products ordered online rarely meet British consumers’ expectations upon arrival.  

With almost one in ten people doing most of their gift shopping the week before Christmas, the gap in consumers’ expectations of products is likely to disappoint buyers, drive an increase in returns and cause customer complaints that could damage consumer loyalty over the festive period.  

Nearly a quarter (22%) of shoppers say their expectations are rarely met when they order products online, double the amount of people who are always satisfied with products (11%). Of the 22% of consumers who say the products they buy online rarely meet their expectations, nearly half will usually or always return items (48%).  

Steve Gershik, CMO at inRiver comments: “Having to process returns because an item doesn’t match the customer’s expectations is creating a huge financial impact on e-commerce businesses. The last week before Christmas is the most crucial time to get this right. If a product arrives and it’s not what the customer expected there’s no time to order a new gift online so the negative impact on the customer relationship is even greater than at other times of the year.”  

Gershik continues: “With the last chance to order items for first class Royal Mail delivery falling on 20th December and Amazon standard delivery being 21st December, the only alternative is for customers to opt for more expensive delivery services like same day, rush to the high street or give a present they’re not happy with. None of these scenarios will make a consumer feel positive towards the retailer who has let them down in the first place.” 

94% of online shoppers say product information is important or critical to their purchasing decision. In fact, consumers will abandon their virtual shopping cart instantly and turn to another retailer to make the purchase if images (20%), information on availability (25%) or information on pricing (39%) are missing. One third (33%) of shoppers also want to see videos that show products in different contexts and 14% see reviews as having the most impact on their decision to purchase.  

Gershik concludes: “It’s no longer enough to provide basic product information. When products are not what the customer expects it creates a high level of frustration and mistrust in the online shop. This massively affects brand loyalty so retailers must ensure the product information displayed is accurate, with images and videos that show context, to help people understand what they’re buying.”  

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