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Christmas shoppers spent £2.8bn online

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UK shoppers spent £2.8bn online over Christmas, with 44% of those who bought spending more than they did last year, according to new research.

In all, says the study commissioned by Tealeaf, some 44% of Britain’s online adult population shopped online over the course of the festive season.

For 58%, convenience was a key factor, while 52% said it reduced stress and the same number cited cheaper prices.

But their high expectations were not always met, with 45% of ecommerce shoppers saying they had had issues with purchases. Indeed, almost a third (32%) abandoned internet transactions entirely.

Most of those who discarded their baskets did so because of purchasing or checkout issues, the research found. Some 13% of shoppers struggled with website problems and errors, while 13% were put off by delivery prices, and 8% by timings, with shoppers looking for companies who could get them their goods by Christmas.

That has implications for the future since 46% of those quizzed said they would be less likely to buy from that company again. More than a third (34%) said they wouldn’t buy from a site they had heard negative things about, while 9% said they had shared their online shopping experiences via social media.

John Lillie, vice president of Tealeaf, said: “Online retailers take a significant proportion of their annual revenues in the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy. Despite the potential gains up for grabs, retailers without a cohesive customer experience management strategy in place are still literally putting obstacles in the way of their customers successfully buying from them, in the form of unattended website errors and complicated checkout processes.

“In addition to denting e-commerce revenues in the short term, these avoidable mistakes are also damaging consumer trust, as well as brand reputation, leading to long-term revenue losses.”

Meanwhile, research from ecommerce specialist Actinic showed that small and medium-sized online retailers saw orders increase by 13% in the fourth quarter of the year, running up to and over Christmas, compared to the previous quarter. The average number of orders processed by each merchant rose by 10% compared to the same quarter last year.

Ben Biscoe, managing director of Fairyglass said: “While the snow caused a few problems with deliveries, it

also meant that customers did not venture out to shop. As a result we had our best online sales ever this Christmas, up around 15% on last year.”

Nick Kington, managing director at Actinic said: “Despite the snow and ice, SMEs selling online have continued to report healthy increases in both the number of orders processed, and most importantly the

revenues achieved in the run up to the crucial Christmas trading period.

“This survey highlights that more consumers have opted for the convenience of online shopping this Christmas, although businesses have had to work extra hard to overcome the customer service difficulties created by weather conditions.”

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