Online-Shopping 2015: Frustration, not gratification for German shoppers online

According to the JDA/Centiro Customer Pulse Report 2015, German retailers let down their customers. 48% of German adults online say they have practiced obstacles when shopping online in the last 12 months. The JDA/Centiro Customer Pulse Report 2015 recommends a rise of customers’ expectations in regards to services. Retailers have to invest in optimizing their Omni-channel fulfillment in order to serve customers efficiently and profitably. The more online shopping becomes mainstream, the fewer customers are willing to accept fulfillment issues. They are ever more likely to switch their supplier with a retailer that offers a larger variety of fulfillment options and a fairer returns policy.

Germans expect perfect service
Of those who had experienced problems when making online purchases in the last 12 months, deliveries often come late (48%), 45% stated they had received a missed delivery card despite being at home to receive the order. Almost one in four (24%) had to deal with goods delivered damaged (24%), while 26% said they never actually received their goods. It is clear that consumers will vote with their feet if their expectations aren’t met. This affects online retailers directly: Almost two thirds (65%) stated they would be likely to change their supplier after a failed fulfillment experience.

Click & Collect: pick-up is considered a service
The online research revealed that nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) who have made an online purchase in the last 12 months had used ‘Click & Collect’ services. The percentage in Germany is lower compared to other countries. UK retailers and their operations seem more advanced when it comes to Click & Collect (49%). Of those who had used ‘Click & Collect’ in Germany, the most common reason for doing so was to avoid delivery charges (49%), followed by convenience (30%). Remarkably, almost one in four (23%) said they used Click & Collect because he or she were more confident that they would receive their items than if purchased by home delivery. This is a bad testimony against the fulfillment qualities of German retailers.

“Click & Collect is still very new to Germany. Many retailers still have to fine-tune their operations,” Dirk Homberg, Retail Customer Executive at JDA said. “Although offering omni-channel experiences to customers is vital, the operations are far from perfect. Of those who have experienced problems with a ‘Click & Collect’ service, the most commonly cited were long waiting times due to a lack of staff (19%) followed by out of stock products (18%) and staff being unable to locate items in store (15%).
Dirk Homberg declares the need for action for retailers,. “German retailers have been facing a huge decline in sales for years now. Click & Collect could be their chance to get back to being profitable and to participate in the growth rates of e-commerce, if they are able to define their role in omni-channel. Online retail continues to be an extremely competitive battleground. The winners will be those retailers that can offer a reliable and convenient fulfillment service to consumers, rather than simply focusing on speed and price.”

Retailers must think hard about the configuration of their supply chains, and will need to become much smarter about how they use their key assets of staff, stores and inventory to fulfill customer requests in an intelligent way. Consumers have undoubtedly thrown down the gauntlet to retailers, it is now up to them to meet this challenge in a profitable manner.

Even before they shop, customers have returns on their minds
Retailers should look at returns as a further opportunity to enhance the customer experience. In the same way that today’s omni-channel environment is allowing consumers to buy items where and when they want, they would like the same flexibility when it comes to returns. 78 percent of German adults online say they consider how easy the shops returns policy is even before choosing the shop. And they know what they want: One common discomfort for customers is the effort to send back their purchases (18%) by post or courier, but even more, customers don’t like having to pay for returns (26%). 16 percent found it difficult to find information about the returns process. 10 percent said it’s frustrating not being able to return the online purchases in the store.