4 Common Problems Consumers Face when Shopping Online

By | January 24, 2017

Online shopping is becoming an increasingly big part of the household budget. British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that around 20% of all non-food spending is through online shopping and this figure is on the rise.

Consumers can buy practically anything and everything online. The Guardian recently posted an article based on the findings of the consumer group which stated that 47% of the respondents of the survey purchased more clothes and footwear online than they did two years ago.

37% buy more DVDs and CDs online, while 33% of the respondents said that they buy more electronic goods such as TVs and radios online than they did two years ago.

Having said this, consumers also face several problems when shopping online. 46% of the respondents in the survey reported that they encountered a difficulty.

The biggest culprits among online retailers were Amazon and eBay with 34% of the respondents stating they had some purchasing problems when shopping on Amazon and 29% faced some issues while shopping at eBay.

Here are some of the most common problems faced by consumers in their online shopping extravaganzas:

Wrong product

Receiving the wrong product seems like the most common complaint for online shoppers. Sometimes, the product itself does not match the product description, while many have complained of receiving inferior quality products.

As per Ready Cloud, 23% of returns take place because retailers send out the wrong item, whereas 22% of returns are due to the product looking different from what was shown on the store. Admittedly, the latter is not always the retailer’s fault. 81%of consumers simply want an easy way to return the product they have purchased.

Voxware, a provider of voice solutions released a research which collected responses from 500 consumers. According to this study, 54% of respondents stated that incorrect size or color is one of the top reasons for returning products purchased online. This is why 97% of consumers are more likely to purchase again from the same online retailer, if the process of returning the product is easy and streamlined.

Late delivery

We all like the instant gratification that makes shopping from brick and mortar stores more satisfying. When shopping online, one is prepared to wait a few days to a couple of weeks for delivery of the goods(depending on the product itself and the location from which it has been ordered). However, goods being delayed beyond expectation is one the most annoying aspects of online shopping.

Whats more, buyers also expressed ire that their delivery is left outside their homes without permission. One blogger wrote that a well-known high street retailer left a package containing a laptop at his front door in full view of passersby. Needless to say, he was more than a little put off.

An article by the Independent stated that in December 2011, 225,000 parcels each day failed to arrive when promised. Delivery issues are also made worse for customers by the sheer amount of time wasted either waiting-in for parcels that do not arrive when expected, or waiting in call queues when trying to chase up deliveries.

Similarly, blogger Peter Handley wrote that he did not get what he ordered in time and had to repeatedly try and contact the retailer and the delivery service, Yodel. This made him so angry that he wrote blog posts on forums, attempted to reach out to Yodel and retailer on social media, while sending out emails and making calls to the relevant parties. He said “I will actively avoid purchasing from websites that will deliver with Yodel only”.

Damage in transit

The possibility of damage in transit increases when the delivery is over long distances.

It is important to read delivery terms and conditions before you buy from a website. That information usually explains how such issues are handled and who is responsible, if goods get damaged in transit. If you are not sure whether the insurance is included in the price that you are paying or whether there are additional shipping charges for it, email the online retailer about this before making a purchase.

Sometimes, buyers may be asked whether they want to insure the goods that they bought at an extra cost. Though this adds to the cost of the product, it does protect from losses from damage in transit.

Extra fees or charges

In addition to all the problems that can be encountered with online shopping, hidden or unexpected fees is yet another. For example, a cinema ticket purchased online may have an additional booking fee. The Vatican Museums charge an additional 4 Euro for tickets booked online. Similarly, international sporting match tickets or sell-out concert tickets have extra charges of the agency that is issuing them.

Companies that offer free delivery have it emblazoned across every digital asset they own, since it is one of their top selling points. Other retailers reduce their prices below those of their competitors, but then add back costs for shipping in excess of their expenses. Some stores sell items in bundles or offers at a discount. Some online retailers offer “expedited” shipping at higher rates, with their standard shipping methods being excessively slow or uninsured.

Buying from abroad may result in custom fees or taxes. Depending on what you buy from where, you may be required to pay custom duty and/or VAT. Though these charges are based on statutory regulations, you may feel ripped off since you have to pay the extra fees to release your goods from customs. You may end up paying 10% to 20% more than what you expected.

Shopping online has its drawbacks but as per statistics published by Eurostat, about two-thirds of the internet users in the EU shopped online in 2016.Despite the pitfalls, the convenience and bargains of shopping online are too alluring for shoppers to stay away from it. But given the competition online, it is essential for internet sellers to address the problems that consumers face to continue garnering their business.

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