The results of the latest e-CSI quarterly survey from eDigitalResearch
shows that consumer satisfaction with online shopping is significantly lower than it was six months ago, and is now back to the level recorded in 2006.
The April e-CSI stands at 78.3% overall, compared with the all-time high of 79.6% reached in November 2008.
However, the results from the survey of more than 2,000 people show a positive outlook for the online fashion industry. Just under half of the consumers surveyed are currently spending the same or more on fashion despite the current climate, with 76% intending to continue spending the same or more online in the coming year. However, there is a opportunity for fashion brands to gain more presence online, with only 2% of consumers surveyed able to identify a fashion brand that is active in social networking.
Multi-channel retailers also continue to have a distinctive advantage over pure online retailers, say the researchers, with almost three-quarters of consumers surveyed preferring to return their goods in-store and 52% preferring to shop online with multi-channel retailers.
"Despite the clear benefits that shopping online has, it is clear that there is a huge advantage in providing a multi-channel offering, as consumers have the chance to use online or offline facilities at their convenience, and can really experience a multi-faceted approach to their needs," comments eDigitalResearch's Chris Russell. "This is great news for struggling high street retailers who are considering branching into online, as the opportunities are immense."
The e-CSI research also demonstrates that online shopping is continuing to grow in popularity over in-store opportunities. Consumers are most attracted to a website that provides good advice and reassurance about their purchase, with outfit suggestions (43%), recommendations (46%) and customer reviews (40%) cited as features that consumers most like.
However, despite this, the survey also discovered that fashion brands are still not taking advantage of social networking platforms, which are used by 58% of respondents . Only 4% surveyed were members of fashion brands' groups and only 2% would associate brands with a social networking website.
"Despite significant improvement in online retail customer service in general, consumer satisfaction with it is falling," comments James Roper of IMRG. "However, online will continue to grow in popularity, and the results of the latest e-CSI show that consumers are fighting against the recession and pledging to spend more online in the coming year. However most importantly, there still remains a huge opportunity for market-leaders to engage with social networking, as there is hardly any consumer recognition of brands on these sites. As one of the most powerful media available at the moment, this is an opportunity waiting to be grasped."