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When it comes to a great online experience, shoppers primarily have two things in mind: speed; and ease. That’s according to a new study from Cloud IQ and is backed up by other research into consumers’ perceptions of the online experience.

In this latest survey, 47% of online shoppers in the US, UK and Australia deemed speed “critical” to a great online experience, with another 47% saying it’s “important.”

Close behind, 45% said it’s “critical” that the experience be seamless and easy, with another 47% saying that’s “important.”

These results bring to mind other research from SUMO Heavy, in which US adults said that the most important aspect of a great e-commerce website is its usability and functionality.

Separately, research from the CMO Council demonstrated that for consumers, the most important attribute of a great customer experience was a fast response time to the customer’s needs and issues.

And in previous research from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), fast response times and a simple purchasing process emerged as by far the leading elements of an ideal customer experience.

What About Personalization and “Individualization”?

In each of the above studies, the basics (speed and ease) outranked personalization in importance. And that appears to be the case in this latest research, too.

Even so, more than one-quarter (27%) of respondents consider it “critical” that brands make their shopping experiences individualized – and 55% find it “important.” Add it up and individualization is important for more than 8 in 10 shoppers.

But what does being treated as an individual mean for shoppers?

Most commonly, this is associated (at least in the context of e-commerce) with being rewarded with highly relevant offers (77%).

Trailing – but still cited by a majority – are the concepts of being remembered (60%), feeling listened to / understood (59%), and feeling in control / opting in (57%).

What to Avoid With Offers and Promotions

Shoppers surveyed for the report did not have a clear leading frustration with offers seen or received from brands. Instead, they pointed to a mix, including expirations that are too fast (36%), have too many exclusions (34%) or are irrelevant (33%).

On the flipside, brand that are able to offer meaningful experiences, individualized content and real-time relevant offers are likely to be rewarded. At least two-thirds of shoppers claimed that this would at least possibly result in them being more likely to say positive things about the brand to others (70%), buy from the brand (70%) and choose the brand over other brands with the same products at the same price (67%).

Personal Data: Don’t Overstep the Boundaries

The provision of a great online experience – at least as defined by speed and seamlessness – doesn’t necessarily depend on data. But individualization certainly does.

There’s been a lot written about the data for value tradeoff, and this study gives it another spin. More respondents are reluctant (26%) than enthusiastic (20%) about allowing brands to use information to provide the best possible online experience. Yet, a large portion seem to be OK with it on a selective basis: 28% would allow a few trusted brands to use their information, while 26% would want to be selective about the data used.

Whether or not that control is possible is yet to be determined. Indeed, a majority (53%) of mobile users surveyed by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) feel that they are not in control of the way their personal data is used by third parties.

Product preferences, previous purchase data, and communication preferences are the types of data that shoppers are most comfortable with brands using to improve the online experience.

Conversely, as found in other research, identity data and income data are the types of data that shoppers least want brands to use in order to enhance the online experience.

Brands might want to avoid using such data: fully 47% of respondents said they would never trust a brand again if it used their personal data in a way they deemed inappropriate.

So proper disclosure is key – and the upcoming GDPR regulations might help establish some standards. For the time being, only 5% of European companies believe they’re fully compliant with all of the requirements, according to a new Alert Logic survey [download page]. Most (64%) shoppers themselves are unaware of GDPR until the Cloud IQ survey was fielded. The most likely response to GDPR? Opting out selectively based on the brands they trust (53%), with another 24% opting out as much as possible. So that does call into question the data-for-value exchange…

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of more than 2,500 adults in the US, UK and Australia, all of whom buy products and services online at least every 3 months.

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