Forty percent of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands think it’s okay to have three or more ‘friction points’ in a customer buying journey – and they could be set to fail as a result.

A new report from ERP platform Brightpearl looked closely at the most common inconveniences that frustrate online shoppers – from losing items in an online basket, to struggling to find products, finding out payment and delivery options are not suitable, or even items turning up late or not at all.

The reality is that direct-to-consumer brands overestimate the patience of online shoppers. Only one-in-five shoppers will accept more than two inconveniences before giving up on a purchase, with four in ten (42 percent) having done exactly that in the last year.

Researchers identified unsatisfactory shopping experiences to be common, despite the confidence of more than two-thirds of brands that believe they offer ‘fast and frictionless’ experiences for their customers.

Brightpearl’s research revealed that 61 percent of consumers have experienced an issue related to buying goods online in the last 12 months. Worryingly for brands, 69 percent of consumers also told researchers that if a shopping experience was poor, they would never shop with the same online store again.

The disconnect between brand offering and buying tolerance could prove risky for brands longer-term, as customer loyalty wanes. Two-fifths (40 percent) of shoppers told Brightpearl that they regularly change where they buy goods, based on their end-to-end buying experience.

According to the study, the biggest gripes for shoppers who have had negative shopping experiences mostly relate to delivery and returns. In the past year, 60 percent of consumers said they’ve bought goods that have not arrived when expected, while 40 percent of shoppers have experienced items not arriving at all. A quarter of shoppers cite items listed as out of stock after purchase, as another major annoyance.

Frustrations also exist for many consumers before they click ‘buy’. High shipping charges would drive away over two-thirds (68 percent) of shoppers from a brand’s website, while unsuitable delivery options would put off over two-fifths (43 percent) of purchasers and over a quarter (28 percent) of consumers wouldn’t order from companies that don’t offer free returns.

In addition, the following major pain points would put off customers from shopping with a brand:

  • A website that crashes, is slow (39 percent) – or is too complicated (30 percent)
  • A lack of product information, poorly designed pages (26 percent) or no reviews (14 percent)
  • Pre-purchase registration requirement (26 percent)

Brightpearl CEO Derek O’Carroll said: “This research highlights a clear gap between brand perception of their customer experience – and what shoppers really think. The disconnect could result in DTC businesses being eaten for breakfast by competitors who offer a more seamless buying journey and better customer service.

“Although brands describe being relatively happy with their own progress, this has not been translated into the same levels of shopper satisfaction – and direct-to-consumer brands now need to up their game. At any moment you risk losing customers, possibly forever, due to friction points in the buying journey. It’s essential to fix the issues that are causing shoppers headaches. Customers demand fast and frictionless experiences, and if they don’t get it they are likely to go elsewhere.

“Becoming a true DTC brand means owning the entire Customer Experience, from discovery to delivery and beyond. That requires systems which help close gaps in the end-to-end experience that are leading to frustrations for consumers, most notably with the delivery and returns phase of a transaction.”

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