To achieve success online, retailers must deliver a positive customer experience across four key factors - ease; product; service and fulfilment.

Online channels continue to grow – UK consumers spent almost 10% more online in the 12 months to April 2016 than they did in the previous year, according to the Office for National Statistics – and retailers are continuing to invest in digital touchpoints.

Nearly 70% of retailers planned to invest in their site last year, according to TLT’s Retail Growth Strategies report. According to Maru/edr’s average satisfaction rate across retail sites, less than half, or 40.4%, of digital users currently rate their online experience as high.

Download Maru/edr’s full report on ‘How to achieve success in online retail’

A winning formula for online success

Achieving success in online retail is about four key factors:

  1. Ease
  2. Product
  3. Service
  4. Fulfilment.

According to analysis by Maru/edr of more than 1.2 million datapoints collected over the past 12 months for 27 of the top retail sites, retailers must deliver a positive customer experience across all four dimensions in order to succeed.

Those sites that do just that achieve an overall satisfaction rate of 82.3%, more than double the Maru/edr average of just 40.4%.

Yet currently only 17% of users surveyed rate their experience highly across the four factors and 37% believe that sites don’t offer a good experience for ease, product, service or fulfilment at all.

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It underlines the importance of brands following a balanced approached when designing customer experiences. Ease and effort have long been touted as the be all and end all of online experiences – especially after the publication of Harvard Business Review’s 'Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers’, which recommended that executives “rebuild their organisation around self-service and, in the process…put reducing customer effort firmly at the core, where it belongs”.

"A poor score for ease does diminish satisfaction much more than is the case for product, service or fulfilment"

But our evidence demonstrates that ease and effort operate much more as a hygiene factor – or a must do.

A good rating on ease does not uplift overall satisfaction any more than a high score on any of the other four factors. However, a poor score for ease does diminish satisfaction much more than is the case for product, service or fulfilment. Satisfaction tumbles from 68% for when service is not right to 55% when users don’t find a site easy to use.

Online retail channels must be managed as an integral part of an omnichannel strategy, with departments that own the four factors – ease, product, service and fulfilment – driving through their expertise into a successful digital customer experience.

Opportunities to delight customers

Implicit to the four factors is the notion of personalisation and inspiration. Both must flow across ease, product, service and fulfilment in order to deliver a truly exceptional online experience.

It means the opportunity is out there to provide a leading online retail experience, especially given results show that few retailers are yet to deliver on all four factors.

Find out how the four factors impact online retail experiences by downloading Maru/edr’s full report on How to achieve success in online retail.



Derek Eccleston, chief development officer, Maru/edr