Your customers are your bread and butter. And yet, you’d be surprised how many e-commerce businesses make the same mistakes that prompt their customers to post bad reviews, switch to competitors or even file reports with various government agencies.
It is possible, however, to avoid the most common online shopping customer complaints, which include:
- Out of stock items.
- Unclear checkout process.
- Lack of order status updates.
- Late delivery.
- Wrong product shipped.
- Frustrating return process.
Keep reading to learn how to avoid these mistakes and provide customers with a delightful experience that keeps them coming back for more.
1. Out of Stock Items
Most out-of-stock situations stem from inventory management problems. Unless you’re hosting a flash sale where customers expect some items to go quickly, out-of-stock items can cost you in the long run. There are multiple ways you can tackle this:
- Improve your automated inventory management system to update quantities in real-time, so you can order stock well in advance of demand.
- Make sure products or raw materials you need for inventory aren’t being held up during the importation process if they’re coming from outside the U.S.
- Use both historic data and industry reports to forecast demand. Think about what has changed that could affect demand, e.g., professional attire being replaced by comfortable loungewear during the pandemic.
- Order extras of items that are likely to be in high need, such as those with ultra-competitive pricing, or ones featured in ads and editorial content.
- Deploy “back in stock” notifications to let customers know when an item they tried to buy is available again for purchase.
- Remove out-of-stock items from your website or gray them out if certain versions aren’t available. It’s extremely frustrating to shoppers to find out an item isn’t available after they’ve gone through color and size selection–or worse–arrived at the checkout page.
2. Unclear Checkout Process
Speaking of checkout, this is another place where e-commerce businesses can lose customers. You want to make this final part of their online journey as simple and transparent as possible to avoid abandoned carts.
One area where shoppers get upset is when the cost of shipping isn’t calculated until the last possible second before placing an order. In fact, since the online shopping boom of 2020, most customers expect free shipping. If you cannot provide this, or if it’s not possible for all items or destinations, you want to make this clear as soon as possible.
For example, a banner on every page that reads: “See if you qualify for free shipping” immediately notifies customers that not all shipping is free.
Consider offering free shipping for purchases over a certain dollar amount. If customers want their order faster, and are willing to pay a premium price, entice them with a button that reads: “Need it sooner? Click here to calculate rush shipping costs.”
Additionally, shipping to most countries overseas involves the collection of taxes and duties. Let customers know in advance that fees like these for international shipping will be calculated at checkout once they enter their delivery address. A progress indicator at checkout is a good reminder that they will still have to do this.
Be sure fees are displayed before customers submit their orders and are clearly marked on their receipts with a designated currency. Even better, allow customers to see foreign order fees as they add things to their carts by entering their destination country or other delivery details earlier.
3. Mystery Order Status
Once a customer has submitted an order, they want continuous updates about its progress. This should start with an order confirmation email or text and continue through delivery.
Like free shipping, customers expect order tracking. They should be able to use an order number to know when their order is being processed, when it leaves your facility or fulfillment center, and when the order is out for delivery.
4. Late Delivery
Research shows that customers would rather have slow delivery and know when their parcels are reliably going to arrive, than be told they’re getting a fast shipment only to have it delivered late. Delayed delivery calls into question the entire trustworthiness of your business.
As well as offering parcel tracking, top solutions for this common, but often avoidable problem include:
- Dedicate a portion of customer service representatives to late deliveries, missing packages, and returns (see below).
- Monitor weather, global supply chain issues, and other factors that could cause delays and proactively communicate delays via email and on your website.
- Notify customers immediately if a delay in parcel arrival is likely, so they can plan an alternative if necessary.
- Have an easy refund or replacement policy for lost or extremely late parcels, and consider offering an extra freebie for the inconvenience.
- Make sure you have the right paperwork to ship internationally. Also, be certain in advance that you aren’t trying to ship any goods that are restricted or forbidden at their destination. A fulfillment partner with experience in global logistics can manage this for you.
5. Wrong Product Shipped
Usually, when a customer receives the wrong product, it’s because of one of two reasons: either the website wasn’t crystal clear about how options like sizes or colors should be selected, or something went wrong during the order fulfillment process.
If it’s the former cause, your web team needs to make the appropriate adjustments. In the latter case, you need to evaluate your order fulfillment and QA processes. This is another instance where using a fulfillment partner can eliminate these kinds of errors.
6. Frustrating Return Process
Whether customers receive the wrong item or simply don’t like what they ordered, a hassle-free return process is a must (and it's a terrific way to retain customers).
First, try to avoid returns in the first place. Make sure images of your items are photographed and displayed as clearly as possible, from a variety of angles, with the correct color palette. Give dimensions or use a size chart. List as many specifications as possible so customers know what they’re buying.
If customers do have a return, don’t make the process too arduous for them. Consider having customer service reps dedicated to returns only. Don’t make them waste time with endless phone trees or chatbots when they want to speak with a live human.
Post a transparent return policy on your website that outlines the return process, including any restocking fees, shipping costs, or other expenses the customer must bear (the fewer, the better).
Improve Customer Service with GLF E-Commerce Fulfillment
With 20 years of experience in e-commerce fulfillment, GLF takes pride in offering transparent pricing, unmatched reliability and personalized services. Our team takes the time upfront to learn your goals and work with you as a proactive partner to create custom solutions that grow your business.