Leading online fashion retailer ASOS has topped a 2019 Retail Benchmark Report analysing online customer experiences, despite a dip in profits over the festive season.
The in-depth study by Voice of the Customer (VoC) pioneers Maru/edr asked 780 independent consumers about their mobile and desktop shopping experiences at 12 leading and fast-growing retail brands in December.
It studied 9,000 shopping encounters over the end-to-end customer journey – from first impressions, site navigation, search and product pages to the shopping basket, checkout, delivery, returns and customer contact. The 2019 Retail Benchmark Report is the latest instalment in a twenty year-long series of studies on the digital retail landscape.
Despite ASOS coming under pressure in the last quarter of 2018 due to heavy discounting and the impact of declining consumer confidence, the retailer scored an impressive overall score of 88%. ASOS’s success is down to its search function, detailed product pages, simple product returns processes and fast site navigation.
New Look (86%), Ocado (85%), Marks & Spencer’s (82%) and John Lewis (81%) made up the remainder of the study’s top five.
ASOS’s winning online customer journey
ASOS are rated 1st by consumers in the study for site search thanks to their site’s detailed search function and smart predictive text which allows consumers to quickly find relevant product listings. Most retailers scored highly in this area with an average benchmark score of 89%. Consumers expect fast and accurate search functions with relevant predictive text.
ASOS topped the table for its product pages because of the quality and range of images available for every item. Key features include individual product details (including fit), size and height of the model used in images for comparison, product stories, detailed material/care information and clear pricing and delivery information. Product pages for retailers in the study overall are a relatively weak with an average rating of just 83%. Shoppers feel particularly let down by pages with a lack of detailed product and sizing information, high quality photographs or reviews. Assets like video are useful in aiding purchase decisions.
Shoppers are impressed with ASOS’s seven different methods to return items, which includes pre-printed Royal Mail labels. Overall retailers in the study had an average of 86%. Brands with complex returns procedures are increasingly rated poorly and have lower brand advocacy. Shoppers prefer several returns options and simple, hassle-free methods.
ASOS is rated best for ease of site navigation, due to its quick and clear signposting. Photo and text links guide users to correct categories with ease. Site navigation across all retailers in the study overall has an average of 88%. Shoppers rate highly sites that allow them to source and purchase desired products with as few clicks as possible.
Ocado’s industry-leading delivery service
Ocado are rated 1st by consumers for product deliveries thanks to their consistently reliable service and convenient text and email updates on delivery times, driver information and substituted items. Deliveries across all retailers in the study are rated as 84% overall. The study also shows that convenience is king and brands that offer greater control over purchases and wider delivery options (e.g. ‘click and collect’) are more highly valued by shoppers.
Newlook 1st for online customer service
Newlook are rated 1st by consumers in the study for customer service via live chat and social media. This is thanks to New Look’s speedy, accurate and personalised service which allows customer service agents the freedom to express personality, enhancing the experience.
The majority of queries on social media were responded to within 30 minutes. Performance for online customer service is varied with service touchpoints scoring an average of just 70%. While still important, traditional customer service platforms such as telephone and email are rated less important when live chat and social media are utilised effectively.
Chief Research Officer Steve Brockway comments: “Today’s shoppers expect a seamless online journey across devices, and our insight shows that revenue, brand loyalty and advocacy often hinge on this. Although experiences vary greatly among retailers, major brands like ASOS are driving up standards by better using search, video, imagery and reviews to inform purchase decisions, and utilising integrated offline delivery and aftersales services to foster long-term loyalty.
Brockway continues, “Over the coming months, shoppers can expect to see other retailers improving their customer experiences with key investment in their offline touchpoints. Every online purchase results in an offline experience, whether that’s delivery, collection or customer contact and core way in which retailers can differentiate themselves in a competitive market”.