Google research finds rising customer expectations of online retail


Google and Kantar have unveiled research into customer experience across online retailers, analysing 33,500 online shoppers across 17 countries (2,000 UK consumers). The research demonstrates the need for retailers to innovate and improve experience at an ever-increasing rate, as it shows overall experience improving while satisfaction plateaus. 

It also identifies that while UK retailers perform better than (the average of) their global counterparts in terms of consumer satisfaction with customer experience, there are clear areas of improvement for retailers to action immediately or risk losing hard won ground with loyal UK customers. 

Rising expectations

The majority of UK customers rate experiences with retailers as excellent or very good (79%), outperforming the global average (69%), which is consistent with previous findings. However, while overall satisfaction has stayed the same, experiences have improved: when compared to the same measurements conducted in previous years, customers reported gains in 22 of 30 customer experience categories. 

In the UK, a big increase in satisfaction was reported in the ‘fresh delivery of groceries’ (52% rising to 57% satisfaction). Other areas have remained consistently high, such as quick and easy payment processing (72% satisfied) and quick website/app load times (69%). The results suggest that constant experience improvements are necessary to maintain a baseline of satisfaction as customer expectations rise in line with retailer innovation. 

Customer loyalty and advocacy 

A key area for retailers to focus on is driving loyalty and recommendations. Customer recommendations of retailers - or Net Promoter Score (NPS) - in the UK is 40, compared with 30 globally, showing that UK customers are more willing than the global average to promote their preferred retailer. Incumbent retailers are therefore in a powerful position: the research found shoppers in the UK tend to be aware of 12 online stores but only purchased from three. In fact, after having made a purchase at a given retailer, only 13% of British shoppers (vs. 22% globally) have stopped purchasing with that retailer, suggesting a trend towards repeated purchases with a select few retailers. 

Despite this, only 33% of UK customers expressed satisfaction with retailer loyalty schemes. Meanwhile, only 43% felt that retailer websites got to know their preferences or personalised content for them. If retailers can more effectively master these areas, they will be in a strong position to strengthen relationships with UK customers and further drive up satisfaction, traffic and sales.

Martijn Bertisen, Retail Director, Google UK, said: “It’s well known that customer expectations are defined by the best experience they have with a retailer - immediately creating a new bar for all other retailers to meet. This research not only confirms that point, but points to the need for retailers to work on personalisation strategies, loyalty schemes, overall site speed and more. The retailer who falls behind gets left behind, and retailers must anticipate customer needs and ensure it is being met with ease and speed as a bare minimum. 

“UK customers are savvy, and we can see here that they reward great customer experiences with both repeat purchases and advocacy. The imperative is to be the retailer that sets the bar higher, and finds new ways to not only keep customers satisfied, but to drive that satisfaction further upwards.” 


Period Fieldwork: April / May 2019. Conducted by Kantar on behalf of Google, 33,500 online shoppers aged 16 years or older were invited to complete an online survey. Surveys were conducted in 17 countries: United Kingdom, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia.

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