Practical Ecommerce

15 Online Shopping Pet Peeves

Being an avid online shopper, I buy from many ecommerce sites. Most of these sites are helpful and effective. But there are some that have annoying features.

Here are my top 15 pet peeves.

1. Slow Site

A site that is slow is a complete turn off. I switch to another site unless I need a specialized product that is only sold there. Slow, for me, is a page that takes more than three seconds to load. Unfortunately, based on a recent Marketing Land report, the average page load time for the top 2,000 U.S. retail sites is 7.25 seconds.

Make the home page and key landing pages faster to load to avoid losing customers.

2. No Support for Guest Checkout

It is important for retailers to identify shoppers and personalize their experiences, to increase the chances of closing a sale. But this should not be done at the cost of losing the customer by not offering guest checkout. Many sites still require shoppers to create accounts or log in using their Facebook accounts.

Allow guest checkout and offer an option to set up an account during the checkout process after the shopper has entered her shipping and billing information.

3. Incorrect Product Recommendations

Most retail sites have some sort of recommendations functionality — though the logic used to display these recommendations varies from site to site. It’s annoying when sites continue to recommend a product even after the product has been purchased. Some other sites base their recommendations on a shopper’s search terms, his browsing history or preferences. These recommendations are not always helpful.

The best way to avoid annoying shoppers with meaningless recommendations is to offer an option to indicate if the recommendation was useful or not. This can be done using a small icon overlaid on top of the recommended product’s image that asks the shopper if the recommendation was helpful.

4. Misleading Product Availability

Ecommerce sites sometimes allow a shopper to add a product to the cart and go through the complete check out process before displaying a warning about the product being “out of stock.”

This is annoying. If a product is not in stock, it should be displayed on the product page or before the product can be added to the cart.

5. Pricing Variations

Some of the omnichannel retailers that I shop with price the same product differently depending on whether it is online or in the physical store. I understand that the cost of carrying the product is different across channels. But these days when consumers use multiple channels, it is a must to offer consistent pricing for products regardless of the channel.

6. Complicated Use of Promotion Codes

Promotions are a popular way to attract shoppers to a site. But it is frustrating if the promotion code can be used only if rules or conditions are met. For instance, I have received promotion codes in emails and when I try them on the site, a message appears saying that this product is already on sale (so I cannot use the promotion code), or the promotion code is not yet active, or promotion code only works on a subset of products.

Promotion codes are helpful only if they are simple to use.

7. Product Page without Pricing

A brick-and-mortar store does not have products on shelves that are not available for sale. So it is frustrating to search for a product on-site and then find that it is not for sale.

If there is a product shown on the site, there has to be a way to purchase it.

8. Lack of Channel Integration

Consumers are becoming omnichannel shoppers. It is annoying when, for example, a product added to a cart using the mobile site does not show up in the desktop site. Or something purchased online cannot be returned in the store.

Omnichannel is here to stay and it is important to have a seamless integration across channels to avoid customer frustration.

9. Too Much Email

Unfortunately there are some sites that do not respect their shopper’s time and send multiple emails for product campaigns, news, product releases, and more. In some cases, the site does not even have an option for a customer to opt out of these emails.

Too much email is an easy way to lose shoppers.

10. Needing to Log In Repeatedly

Though I do not register or change passwords frequently, it is still annoying if a site asks me to log in when I have just registered or changed my password. It should be straightforward to authenticate a user based on the password that was just set up instead of introducing another step.

11. Not Secure

Most shoppers do not pay much attention to security features of a site. But a frequent online shopper will see the difference if your site does not support a strong password policy or allows credit card information to be transmitted without using SSL. A customer account can be easily hacked or a credit card can be misused if the site is not secure.

12. Browser Favoritism

Some retailers do not take the time to test their site on different browsers. They assume that if the site works on one browser, it will work the same way on others. I run into this frequently, as I am a Apple Safari user.

Retailers should review their analytics periodically to identify their visitors’ browsers and ensure that their site works on all of them.

13. Bad Customer Service

A good customer service team resolves issues quickly and ensures that telephone hold times are short. Sites that do not have such teams and policies struggle to retain customers.

This is an easy fix and should be a priority for all retailers.

14. Not Mobile Friendly

Some sites still do not function on mobile devices, or they partially function on such devices. I use my phone and tablet for the bulk of my online research and shopping. I much prefer sites that are mobile friendly.

Retailers have no excuse not to support a mobile friendly site, as there are several easy-to-use tools that can instantly convert a website to a mobile friendly version.

15. Third-party Payment Options Hosted on Another Site

Ecommerce sites often support different ways to pay for a purchase. Some of these payment methods take customers to a third-party site for checkout and leave them there. In some cases, there is no confirmation that the payment went through and the order was successful. The only option is to wait for the site to send an order confirmation email.

Do you have the same pet peeves or would you like to add to the list? Please share by commenting below.

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Gagan Mehra
Gagan Mehra
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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Ramiro H. December 18, 2013 Reply

    Great article!

  2. Elizabeth Ball December 23, 2013 Reply

    Regarding point 7, I’d be interested to know how many products which are currently unavailable to buy are out of stock – or if the retailer is testing the market response.

    One of my pet peeves are retailers who do not list an one address and phone number in addition to the Contact Us form.

  3. Kelly Rhoads January 22, 2014 Reply

    As for # 12, I am sorry to hear you use Safari, it is usually the first browser cracked at the annual security conference every year. That may be a reason companies don’t make Safari friendly sites, they don’t want to be liable for theft related to the massive security flaws in Safari.

  4. Gagan Mehra January 23, 2014 Reply

    Thank you, Kelly, good to know. Though since it is shipped with every Mac, it makes sense to support it. The Mac user base is not small and it is growing daily.

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