“Annoyances matter, because they compound. The combined negative impact of the annoyances chips away at user satisfaction for e-commerce customers,” – Jakob Nielsen
Multiple factors operate in the background of modern commercial enterprises and the customer experience is considered vital. Therefore, businesses strive to create unique experiences for their end users. E-commerce businesses, in particular, should work to achieve both creative and functional effects in such matters. Any disturbances in the design of the customer experience may irritate consumers, create annoyances for customers, and lead to negative fallouts for business enterprises.
The annoyances for customers can include a stuttering or intermittent visual experience when customers scroll through an e-commerce website. This is an irritant because it interferes with the customer experience and may force online customers to seek out competing e-commerce websites. Business managers that oversee online operations must realise that one of the prime reasons that drives e-commerce is the sheer convenience it offers to all customers. Therefore, anything that mars the visual experience should be targeted for immediate correction on a priority basis.
Proper packaging and shipping should be a basic business commitment extended to e-commerce shoppers. Disruptions and disturbances in such activities can boost annoyances for customers and create negative publicity for an e-commerce operator. We must bear in mind that packaging and shipping are critical steps that bring products closer to the customer. Therefore, businesses should treat these stages of the supply chain with extra caution. In fact, business innovation may allow e-commerce operators to add value to said stages by creatively including flyers and other publicity material inside delivery packages and boxes. This can lead to true instances of customer delight and may help to boost business outcomes.
Communications form the bedrock of modern commerce, but e-commerce business operators should desist from frequent and persistent communications with customers. This line of action is never recommended because it represents one of the many annoyances for customers of online businesses. For instance, a business may choose to send a customer multiple emails centred round a single e-commerce transaction. Though well intentioned, the sudden arrival of emails bearing known information may not thrill most customers. In sending such emails, business managers may be riling the customer’s sense of propriety and inflicting damage on the public image of a business enterprise. In light of the above, online businesses would be well advised to undertake a fair communications policy with inbuilt safeguards.
Every online business needs to advertise its merchandise and pop-up windows are one form of on-screen advertising. We must note that such modes of advertising remain quite effective but may prove annoying for the average customer. Online businesses must work to reduce annoyances for customers and therefore, should limit the use of pop-up windows. The abrupt appearance of such windows tends to disturb browsing sessions and reduce attention spans. Persistent pop-up windows may also prompt customers to abruptly terminate their shopping sessions, thereby leading to abandoned shopping carts. In light of the above, online businesses should leverage the use of pop-up windows in a judicious manner.
Serious experiential flaws can arise on e-commerce websites when these sites are engineered to prompt visiting customers to ‘register’ immediately. This can be classified as one of the biggest annoyances for customers because most customers would respond to such suggestions by immediately closing the browsing session. We must note that such reactions are justified because the customer is merely responding to an element of coercion. That said, we must note that online businesses must necessarily gather information on their customers, and this can be achieved through a multiplicity of other means.
New thinking in e-commerce paradigms is elevating the role of ‘guest’ visits to online websites. This line of thinking is significant because it seeks to initiate changes in website design to promote anonymous surfing by visitors. This assumes significance when we recall that most e-commerce websites encourage visitors to ‘log-in’ to the website using specific credentials. Guests or casual visitors to a website should be treated at par with users that have logged into the website. An insistence on providing credentials figures prominently among annoyances for customers. In light of the above, we recommend that online businesses create smooth and consistent forward navigation for both classes of visitors. This approach to website design is likely to attract more customers, thereby helping to register higher sales and boost customer conversions.
Weak servers and sub-optimal back end infrastructure represent significant annoyances for customers. The consequent lack of speed in browsing can ruin a customer’s day and may represent loss of sales for the business. We must bear in mind that the modern e-commerce customer tends to be a young person who is less likely to tolerate slow websites or slow apps. In addition, attention spans of average customers are dipping worldwide. In light of such information, we must note that online businesses should make sufficient provisions for optimum server performance and speedy backend, information technology infrastructure. These investments should be viewed as critical to business success and must be enforced on a priority basis.
Video-based content dominates much of the Internet in the present day. Consequently, websites and mobile apps offer enticing video content to all visitors and customers. However, e-commerce players should consider unsolicited videos among the biggest annoyances for customers because such videos consume bandwidth, play without seeking permission from viewers and visitors, and distract from the shopping mission at hand. In light of the above, websites and apps may be engineered to seek visitors’ consent before play is initiated. That said, we must note that seeking consent essentially signals a respectful attitude on the part of the business enterprise. This is important because it directly contributes to the establishment of a genuine rapport between customers and online businesses.
The final phase of an online shopping session involves payment and checkout for all participating customers. Online businesses would be well-advised to analyse this stage in detail because it has the potential to trigger annoyances for customers. Certain businesses may choose to offer restricted choice of payments and this could invite customer ire. For instance, an e-commerce operator may only allow credit and debit payments on its website. Cash-on-delivery options may not exist on said website. The situation should be remedied because not every customer may have access to electronic banking channels. This remains especially true for developing countries, which represent significant chunks of the global e-commerce market. Therefore, online merchants should work to offer the widest possible range of payment options in a bid to promote customer convenience.
In the preceding statements, we have outlined some of the biggest annoyances that bedevil modern online consumers. Every problem has an appropriate remedy and e-commerce issues are not an exception. Business managers can be relied upon to devise creative solutions to address issues with service delivery, end-user experiences, the use of appropriate technology, choice of payment options, etc. Business operators must bear in mind that e-commerce is a growth market and therefore, many problems may arise as the sector expands and grows. However, an impartial and thorough assessment of emerging problems can help online businesses to thrive in the face of all adversities and thereby, fulfil their commercial destinies.