As we all know, those ecommerce marketers providing shoppers with the best customer experience get all the love, loyalty, comebacks, and of course rapidly growing income.
According to Walker’s research by 2020 customer experience will become critically important, and even overtake price and product as key aspects. Another study made by PwC states: “One in three consumers (32%) say they will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.”
Here you can see how the customer experience is important for different locations:
So how one can make the time spent on an eCommerce marketplace the most enjoyable? Obviously eliminating weak points would be a great start. So let’s travel through the whole shopping process to see the top 15 problems customers face while buying stuff on marketplaces. Try to eliminate them and you’ll be fine.
1. No Localization
A lack of localized interface and currency is one of the main reasons that makes your customers go away at the very first click. Bad news—English speaking shoppers no longer dominate the internet. Every day more and more potential customers join the online space and they may not even speak English at all.
The 2014 survey by Common Sense Advisory states that 56% of respondents say reading info in their own language is more important than a price. Considering the fact the internet is constantly expanding the numbers may get even greater.
So it’s quite clear that if you want to scale your online marketplace globally there’s no other way than speaking to your audience in their native language.
According to the Common Sense Advisory, on average, a virtual shopping mall owner needs 14 languages to speak directly to most of the audience.
To stay relevant to your foreign customers you may also think not only about a translation and currency conversion but also about adapting the product content and assortments to the local buying patterns, holidays, seasonality and so on.
No doubt, there’s a lot to do, and to make it easier, consult your Google Analytics stats to find out what country provides most of the traffic and think of what your target market is. Once your localizations are ready don’t forget to let your customer know about it! A welcome pop-up screen or a simple language switcher at the top will work perfectly.
Even a better solution is to set up your marketplace to track users’ location and set the language automatically.
The things you should pay attention to while working on localizations:
- the language itself / written content
- numbers: currency, date, time, phone numbers, measurements
- visuals (you may want to replace the current images with those closest to the target country): people, symbols, cultural signs
2. No Mobile Version or App
According to the last year Forrester’s research, consumers have an average of 4.5 digital devices, and they expect a smooth, consistent shopping experience regardless of what device they’re using.
Nowadays almost 75% of traffic comes from mobile devices because it’s really convenient to shop at any time in any place. It’s worth mentioning that online shoppers get impatient if the site is not loading within 3 seconds. And they expect mobile sites to load just as quickly as that or even faster.
Let’s see what mobile options are available in this case:
- native mobile app
- marketplace mobile version
- responsive design of the main multi vendor website
The first option—a mobile app—is the preferable one but it can be really costly. Why is a mobile app so good for your eCommerce marketplace business?
- Customers prefer using multivendor mobile apps over browsers
- People can stay logged-in for a long time which makes it convenient to use
- You can send push notifications
- You can provide the exceptional and unique user experience because the only limit is a budget for app developers
- Easy social sharing
- Better customer engagement
- Your competitors already have their mobile applications for multi-vendor malls
As you may know the giants like eBay, Amazon, and AliExpress have their native apps:
If you’re not ready for a mobile app yet you’re always free to choose between a mobile version of the ecommerce site and a responsive design.
What’s the difference? It’s not that big actually. You can use a separate website version adapted for mobiles on a subdomain and redirect mobile users there. Or simply make your multi vendor marketplace responsive. Which means displaying fewer elements, resizing texts and no horizontal scrolling. This can be achieved by using ready-made solutions or applying custom CSS coding.
3. Hard to Choose
On a marketplace ecommerce platform anyone could sell anything from anywhere. And there’s a strong belief that having a large assortment is the shortest way to online domination. But in fact, the more options → the harder to choose. That’s why spending hours by browsing hundreds of products may be really exhausting. As a result you’re losing a customer who is too frustrated to buy anything at all.
How this problem can be solved? Help your buyers choose!
It’s very important to know perfectly your customer journey. Lots of people start browsing the web marketplace without even knowing what they want exactly, they just want to maybe soothe themselves with an impulse buying.
So here are some tips how to make it easier for a shopper:
- Check if your filters are powerful enough. Make it more diverse if necessary
- Add some product lists made by experts or influencers
- Show the best deals in a separate section
If you’ve ever visited AliExpress you’ll never forget this huge amount of products you see straight away. They even have Inspiration lists:
4. What Seller to Choose
This problem flows naturally from the previous one. Even if a shopper knows exactly what product they’re looking for, he or she may get stuck seeing a dozen or even a hundred identical items provided by different online sellers. It’s possible that the crucial factor will be the price but seller’s rating and customer service also matter.
That being said, here are the must-haves:
- Seller rating
- User-generated content (reviews, product photos). You can enable customers to leave reviews right in your marketplace or on third-party review websites
User-generated content is the key to build trust with shoppers. Sometimes product images look too polished and don’t give a clear idea on the real product. Other customers’ photos are way more informative.
Almost every big virtual shopping center has these features. Below is the Amazon’s review screen with rating:
And getting back to the AliExpress multi vendor marketplace, you can see shoppers’ real photos in some reviews. To minimise returns they even give loyalty point every time a shopper uploads a photo depicting the purchased item:
5. Fake Products
A Local Circles survey says that the problem of fake or counterfeit products is still vital for online buyers. According to the survey, even the leading virtual marketplaces are not completely safe. The respondents state that they had received fake products on Snapdeal—12%, on Amazon—11%, Flipkart—6%.
According to the most customers the top faked products are perfumes and fragrances, as well as fashion apparel, bags, sport goods, and shoes. The counterfeit products problem is relevant for both consumers and online shopping mall owners since almost 80% of Local Circles’ surveyed said that not only marketplaces should accept returns and make refunds on fake products but also pay a penalty.
Both virtual shopping centers and online sellers try their best to be trustworthy. But for an average Joe all online retailers are seen as a whole. So if there’s even a single black sheep selling fake products, the entire web marketplace is perceived as fraudulent.
Dealing with enormous volume of products can be really challenging for a multi vendor website owners to make quality checks on every product they sell.
The most obvious solutions are to block fraud sellers and again to have a peer-review system. Filing cases, blocking sellers and investing into the integrity of the shopping mall is what Amazon does.
Let’s summarize what we can do with it:
- Get rid of fraud sellers
- Implement reviews and rating system
- Ask for certificates of authenticity
- Take legal action and go to the court
- Monitor warehouses if possible
6. Complicated Website Navigation
While complex multi vendor marketplace websites may look attractive they may also bring frustration to the visitors. According to Forrester, up to 50% of potential sales are lost because of complicated navigation, too many unnecessary details, too many options, and so on. First-time visitors shouldn’t have to learn how to use the site because this is not what they want, they just want to enjoy the shopping process.
Let’s get back to Google Analytics and check the heat map. Or you can use any other heat map tools. Thus you’ll track and see the visitors’ clicks, understand the weak points and then modify or delete distracting elements and make your website neater and more informative.
CafePress is easy to navigate, there’s nothing redundant, everything is pretty simple but still you’ll have no problem to find anything you need:
7. Slow Site
This is a related issue that freaks out even the most enthusiastic shoppers. The higher your bounce rate the lower is conversion. If you see that your site is not as fast as you want it to be try these steps:
- If you haven’t started your multi vendor website yet, it makes sense to dive into the CMS reviews (here are some of these) to find an eCommerce platform that suits your business and is well optimized
- If you already have a marketplace website make a performance test with Google PageSpeed Insights or any other tool you like
- Try switching for a more powerful and trustworthy server and hosting
- Try using ready optimization plug-ins
- Contact the developers to make a custom speed tuning for you
- Don’t forget to make load testing (especially before the holidays)
Even if the virtual shopping center is simple, speedy and responsive, a potential client may leave it if they’re bored. Out attention span is quite low and with each passing day people give even less time for a website to impress them.
To inspire these impatient shoppers you can add some interactive elements which will make the time spent on the online marketplace more engaging.
What could it be?
- Product finder quizzes (be entertaining!)
- Social shopping
- Easter eggs
Gamification is not about making a complex video game but more about bringing game-elements and turning something with non-game context into a game.
Would you say no to the turning wheel?
9. Not Secure
One of the biggest fears of an online shopper is that his or her security could be compromised. No surprise given that online shops record a lot of important customer data—name, address, phone number, and of course credit card details. And even if a shop is secure a public Wi-Fi may put a shopper on risk. So the security issue is really important.
What is cyber security?
- End user education
- Network Security
- Application Security
- Operational Security
- Business continuity planning
Though the online shopping big fishes have best-in-class security measures it may be hard for smaller ones to make it just the same.
But here is what you should do:
- Apply SSL protocol
- Add HTTPS protocol
- Perform regular penetration tests
- Perform regular test for logical vulnerabilities
- Make back-ups
It’s good to implement:
- Two factor authentication
- CVV (Card Verification Value) at checkout
10. Additional Charges
It’s always upsetting to see an additional shipping charge at checkout after spending a couple of hours and spotting a great deal. So the best thing for a customer is if you do the math at the beginning by clearly indicating the shipping price or adding a shipping calculator like Flipkart did:
11. Complicated Checkout Process
This is a real pain point. When there are lots of fields and the checkout process is too lengthy only the most stubborn online customers finish it. Sometimes it’s easier to drop the transaction and go find the product somewhere else later, especially when it asks you to create an account first.
So the only way to make it bearable for a user is to make it short. A one-step checkout with no need to make an account is what will work the best.
If you’re using a common CMS there are usually plenty of a ready-made checkout add-ons.
The multi vendor website Amazon makes it as easy as pie with its 1-click ordering button, which automatically places an order using the address and credit card data given previously.
12. Delivery and Logistic Problems
When the order is placed and paid there’s still something to worry about—the shipping and delivery process.
Late delivery, an inability to contact the courier to choose a particular time slot, no available shipping options for a specified location, and damaged products are the main problems customers mention. If a customer shopped for a particular occasion, 1-2 days of the delivery delay can make it useless.
If you’re not Flipkart who made its own logistic Ekart then you’ll have to deal with third-party shipping methods integrations.
There are a lot of options when it comes to shipping carriers. These are the most common and effective ones:
Some of these will work better for smaller packages (USPS) and some for oversized ones (DHL, FedEx). In any case if the volume of orders is high enough you can always negotiate a lower shipping rates with the preferred carriers.
Also don’t forget about:
- Offering free shipping to your customers
- Giving a number of shipping options with preferable time slots at checkout
- Making the delivery date and time clearly stated
- Sending a tracking number
13. Lack of Instant Customer Support
According to 2013 Zendesk’s research, 64% of virtual consumers expect to receive assistance in real-time. In 2018 when almost every brand is active on social networks 90% would be more believable.
Speaking about support and instant support in particular one of the major aspect is personalization. No matter what means you’re using, recognizing a person so that they don’t have to explain who they are and what is the problem would be much appreciated.
A Chatbots.org survey states that repeating the same info to a live agent after explaining it to a chatbot frustrates 59% of surveyed.
So how can a real-time support be achieved?
- Live chats with humans
- Good old phone calls
- Social networks presence
As for bots using, it may be exasperating for a shopper but if you train the bot to apologize then it will work much better for you to cut response time and provide instant support.
No matter what support channel you choose the customer service team must be timely in reponses.
Most of the large companies require to go through several steps before they offer a live support. This is an Amazon marketplace example:
While others are ready to provide it immediately. This is one of the biggest Chinese virtual marketplace JD:
14. Customer Care Problems
As mentioned above, for a shopper a marketplace ecommerce platform is seen as a whole. A retailer may spend years positioning itself as a trustworthy brand with a great quality and the best customer care but with no results because its sellers cannot meet the standards. And that’s why the customer experience must not vary from a seller to a seller.
Regular ecommerce stores have a centralized customer care systems, so resolving conflicts is not that complicated. As for multi vendor marketplaces, buyers who are not satisfied with a seller services direct their messages to the virtual shopping center instead of a seller.
The only thing that can be done with it is setting up the correct expectation among customers. It’s vital to explain to your shoppers that both sides are responsible for fulfillment of their obligations.
And is equally important to motivate online sellers to meet the standards. The best way to achieve this is by setting up minimum service levels. In case a seller doesn’t reach them he may be removed or suspended. Selling with the help of the marketplace eCommerce platform is a good opportunity for a seller so they will do everything possible to provide the best customer service. And some of them will do even more providing some extra customer care. Such sellers can be rewarded with a “premium” status or featured higher in searches.
15. Returns and Refunds
It’s hard to fully understand if a product is good for you without holding it in your hands. And sometimes parcels are damaged while shipping. Sooner or later almost any online shopper has to think about making a return.
Amazon worked out a nice return policy allowing to return any Amazon or its sellers’ products hassle-free.
If for any reason you can’t afford making it the same, at least your return and refund policy should be crystal clear:
- Use short sentences
- Casual vocabulary
- Give a return deadline and what date to calculate it from—order placing or delivery
- Give a choice of having a refund or resending
- Consider providing free mailing for returned items
- Use this chance to encourage more shopping
Invesp’s research says that over 90% of customers will be back for more shopping if their return experience was positive.
Darren Schreher is the Digital Manager for INTO THE AM and iHeartRaves. They’re curators of all-over print clothing and world leaders in festival fashion. They currently gross over $20M a year and have been featured in the Inc. 5000 four years in a row.
As an e-commerce company, we found that the online return process was not only a challenge but was critical to the future success of our brand. Today, online returns are expected to be hassle-free for customers. Our return process used to be very costly with a lot of manual labor. Since changing over to a more automated process it has increased our profits and provided a much better return process for our customers.
Many of our customers now order multiple products to try on and return the products they are not completely satisfied with. We see this as a cost of doing online business since the customer can’t try on the clothing before buying, compared to going into one of our physical retail stores. Customer satisfaction and providing a better shopping experience is our number one priority so we encourage this practice and market that our return policy is hassle-free.
Additionally, using software to help manage the entire returns process is vital. Our recently upgraded software can now automatically send a customer a return label for them to send products directly back to us. This cuts down lots of friction by not requiring the customer to provide their own shipping labels. The software also helps us track exactly which stages the return is in and clearly communicate the status to the customer so they know what’s going on at all times.
So addressing pain points of your web customers and going extra for them will definitely worth it. Try saving time, not seizing and making your shoppers feel valued and appreciated. Soon you’ll see the marketplace conversions growing.
Yan Anderson is the Head of Content Marketing at CS-Cart with over 10 years of experience in the eCommerce industry. He's passionate about explaining complicated things in simple terms. Yan has expertise in building, running and growing eCommerce marketplaces. He loves to educate people about best practices, new technologies, and trends in the global eCommerce industry.