The Digital High Street Advisory Board has announced a five year plan to overhaul UK town centres and invest in connectivity and digital technology to help local high streets compete online more effectively- it highlights how investing in technology is now a vital part of engaging customers, with research from Rackspace showing businesses need to do more to inspire customers when they visit their online shop.
The survey carried out in December found that shoppers turn to the internet for convenience and price, but websites miss out to bricks and mortar shops when they fail to inspire 'browsing' shoppers. Over a third (38%) of consumers polled cited finding inspiration as the main reason to shop on the high street, compared to just one in five who go online.
Consumers cited frustrations like too many irrelevant pop-up adverts, too many options that take too long to narrow down, search tools and filters making it difficult to find things, and service experiences not matching up to what they recieve in-store.
Frustrated by long winded search functions and too much choice, over a third (34%) of shoppers will give up browsing a website after just ten minutes if they can’t find what they want and a further 26% will give up after fifteen minutes.
'Smaller online retailers that can't compete on price with bigger brands should seize the opportunity of search to give customers the 'inspiration' that they are failing to find online,' said Nigel Beighton, VP of technology at Rackspace. 'Using search that isn't limited by restricted criteria and a few descriptive words would move them away from trying to challenge competitors on just price alone.'
When asked specifically about frustrations shoppers experienced when using search filters and tools online, over a quarter believe the categories offered by ecommerce sites don’t match their desired criteria, 25% think that they aren’t specific to their search and a further 20% get annoyed that they are only able to select just one option. 13% also believe they aren’t personalised enough to them as an individual and 10% just don’t bother with them at all.
'There is no doubt that the internet has made shopping cheaper but this survey shows that retailers are really missing a trick when it comes to converting browsing shoppers to buying customers on their websites,' continued Beighton. 'Retailers are making it too difficult for them to find what they want because of limited and frustrating search filters.'
We are now in a place where big data and search combined is so powerful that it can take information from both the outside and online world and offer shoppers something truly bespoke to them as an individual. The search function, says Beighton, might not seem that significant – 'but actually it holds the key to solving all of these problems. Cloud has given retailers unmatched levels of computing power necessary to manage their big data and give them real time analysis so they can refine their search functionality.'
'Ultimately, a powerful search function can take customer data – their preferences, habits, buying behaviours – and combine it with online and real world information to create a unique and, most importantly, an easy online experience for shoppers.'