European research highlights why retailers need to focus on the online user experience

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With ecommerce being the fastest growing retail market segment in Europe and with growth expected to reach £215.38 billion in 2017, it is becoming pivotal for online brands to keep their customers engaged throughout the entire shopping experience.

The experience optimisation platform, Optimizely, recently conducted a survey of over 3,000 consumers who shop online in Northern Europe; revealing clear differences between countries in terms of their spending habits, security concerns and preferences when shopping online; all of which highlights the increased importance of focusing on the online user experience and creating a personalised shopping experience.

According to the survey's findings, the amount of money consumers spend online differs considerably between countries. German shoppers proved themselves to be the biggest spenders, with an average online spend of €97 per month with UK consumers following closely behind with a monthly spend of £77.19. Both Nordics Benelux respondents spend comparatively less, however: they only spend a monthly total of €79.47 and €73.39 respectively.

It is surprising then, that the survey's findings showed little correlation between spending habits and concerns about online security. The countries most concerned about online security were Germany and Benelux, where despite being at opposite ends of the spending-scale, 21% of respondents highlighted the issue. Contrastingly, only 12 to 13% of those surveyed in the UK and Sweden identified this concern.

Regional differences also played a part when it came to the reasons why shoppers abandoned their online shopping carts. Unexpected shipping charges were the top reason in all countries except Germany, where 52% of respondents said they would abandon their shopping cart if their favourite payment method was not offered.

Other findings include:

  • When participants described their favourite website user experience, "easy to use/navigate" was the top reason in all regions, except Germany where "fast" was the top reason.
  • When asked which industries provided the most personalised online experience, all countries chose fashion clothing and accessories as the top industry. Germany responded with electronics as the second industry (20%), and the UK with food delivery (14%). Benelux and Nordics both placed holiday/travel second (17% and 15%).
  • When it came to the appeal of online shopping, convenience was the number one reason (72%) for both Nordics and the UK.
  • Benelux showed little opposition compared to other countries on being asked to make an online account (10%).
  • On average, 35% of respondents said that one bad online experience would cause them to be disloyal to a brand. In Benelux, this jumped to 45%.

Marie Despringhere, UK Country Manager, Optimizely, comments, "The report has shown clear differences between the spending habits and preferences of online consumers across Northern Europe. These findings will provide retailers with an understanding of how best to keep their customers engaged through the use of easy to navigate websites that offer a personal online shopping experience from region-to-region.

Retailers should ensure that a wide range of payment methods are offered to German shoppers to avoid shopping cart abandonment, for example, or make sure the website is simple and easy to navigate for UK consumers. For other regions, they should take care to be transparent when it comes to shipping costs so consumers aren't surprised when unexpected fees arise. Of course, there are some similarities between regions, but the report has shown that presumptions should not be made. Online brands that provide a positive user experience will win the loyalty of online shoppers."

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