Five typical problems consumers have when shopping online

Kaisa Kiviluoto Written by Kaisa Kiviluoto - Aug 31, 2016

What kinds of problems do consumers typically have when shopping online? In what situations do consumers contact customer service? What can an online merchant do to improve the customer experience and reduce the backlog of their own customer service?

Paytrail’s customer service team really understands consumer behavior when online shopping. We reply weekly to hundreds of messages from consumers who have questions about their orders, payments, or merchants that they have done business with.

These messages cover a wide range of topics and themes. In this post, I want to share five problems consumers consistently contact us about and that you, as a merchant, should be aware of to provide the best possible customer’s experience in your online store. 

Problem #1: Inaccessible merchant

Most of the time, consumers only contact a merchant when placing their order. So if the customer has questions about the products or their order, it’s very important that the merchant is easy to reach and responds quickly.

We constantly get messages from consumers who placed an order in an online store and haven’t found any contact details for the store or merchant. Something else that causes gray hairs is when the merchant doesn’t reply to the consumer. The consumer becomes quite concerned and starts to doubt the merchant’s trustworthiness.

It’s particularly unpleasant for a customer if the contact details provided don’t actually work.

These situations easily cause a panic reaction from the customer “Who have I given my money to? Will I even get my order?!"

Make sure the correct and current contact details are easily found in your store and answer customer questions in a reasonable amount of time. 

Problem #2: Delivery time not clearly stated in order process

Consumers often ask us about orders when the delivery time is longer than they expected.

It’s important that customers have realistic expectations of when to expect their orders. Delivery times hidden in small print of the delivery terms isn’t enough. In these cases, customers form their own expectations of when they should receive items and a merchant may have difficulties meeting them. The end result can easily be a disappointed customer.  

It’s best to show the expected delivery time of a product in the product information along with current stock levels. This gives the customer a realistic idea of the delivery.

If the order cannot be delivered in the time promised, contact the customer before they have a chance to ask you. This is customer service at its best!

Problem #3: Return instructions are hard to find 

Naturally, we get lots of questions about refunds. However, it often becomes apparent that the customer didn’t know how to make the return or didn’t necessarily know who to contact about it (or even that someone should be contacted; we’ve had these cases too).

Some customers may assume that returns are handled as easily as not getting the package from the post office, without letting anyone know.

Sometime later they ask us or the merchant why their money hasn’t been refunded. This was even more common a few years ago when it was possible (according to Finnish law) to “return” items simply by not getting the package. It’s possible that not all consumers understand that the law has changed.

Short of developing amazing mind reading powers, it’s impossible to solve all these issues. But most customers will appreciate and follow return instructions if they are clearly and easily accessible (it wouldn’t hurt to include return instructions inside the package too).

It’s worth describing, even if only on high level, how returns are generally handled. This provides the customer with an idea of when expect a refund and any shipping related charges if it’s not possible to offer free returns.

Problem #4: Preferred payment method not available

Consumers also contact us when they can’t find the payment method they prefer. Of course, offering a wide selection of payment methods will take care of this issue. It would also help to display accepted payment methods. Either display accepted payment methods on the front page of the store, or at the latest in the shopping basket.

Obviously it’s also extremely important to keep your promises. If you say you accept certain payment methods on the front page of your store, these payment methods actually need to be possible.

If you need to add the Finnish payment methods to your webstore, it's easy. Contact us and we'll help.

Problem #5: Payment confirmation missing

We are contacted when for one reason or another, it’s unclear to a customer whether the payment was successful. Once the payment has been completed, it’s essential to display a page that confirms the successful payment and thanks the customer for their order.

In addition, email a payment confirmation to the customer or provide this information in the order history, if this option is available in your store. Directing your customer straight to the front page of your store after completing their payment leaves them in a state of uncertainty as to whether the order went through or not.

What kind of consumer problems have you come across with in your online store? Please share your experiences in the comment box below. 

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