Directly after the start of the pandemic, retail sales in the UK fell dramatically due to the closing of non-essential stores. The silver lining , however, was that non-store sales increased swiftly right from the onset, mainly thanks to online shopping. Although, another big factor was the fact that consumer wallets were stuffed with at the time.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, online retail sales only accounted for 20% of all retail sales. This figure almost doubled to reach 36% in February 2021, remaining at a high 29% even as stores fully reopened in April 2021. Click and collect, also known as “buy online, pickup in store”, became one of the hottest retail trends at that time, increasing by more than 500% year on year.The share of online retail sales in the UK almost doubled during the pandemic.

 

Mcommerce, the ubiquity of a new way of shopping

Let’s first focus on mobile shopping. Mobile retail commerce sales have skyrocketed in the past 5 years, jumping from 52% to 73% of total e-commerce sales worldwide. This ​​ubiquity has led to the growth of a whole new point of sale as the new normal of shopping:  Mcommerce. Consumers now have the opportunity to obtain additional savings and take advantage of various popular deals. 

However, utilising the most out of such tools is not a simple task but rather a journey that must be continually optimised, paid attention too in terms of changes, trends, and online visit habits among consumers. 

 
 

How simplified is your checkout process?

What happens when a website requires a user to enter a large number of characters, keep track of numerous logins—and is obliged to log into shopping portals? or navigate between multiple screens? 

A flawless online customer experience is one of the key differentiators of successful retailers, with the most essential stage being the checkout, where a transaction may be won or lost. Countless websites provide a bad checkout experience, only to wonder why so many customers quit their online basket.

To understand the reason why, we conducted a series of polls to set a benchmark for the checkout operations of the UK's 100 largest retailers. In this research, we looked at the best and worst checkout habits and highlighted how autocomplete solutions might be the key to a seamless checkout experience, whether on a desktop or a mobile device.

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Online checkout: best and worst experiences 

As mentioned above, the pandemic has prompted a dramatic increase in the usage of Click and Collect. This has allowed many companies to offer this service, which has in turn allowed them to survive during these tough times. However, there has been an increase in cart abandonments ever since the introduction of mobile shopping. 

With 4,384 responses, Baymard's research gave an insight into the various reasons for cart abandonment - with a question : have you abandoned any online purchases during the checkout process in the past 3 months? If so, for what reasons?

If we exclude the shipping cost factor, we’d find that compulsory account creation and lengthy checkout processes are among the main culprits.

 

(Source: https://baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate)

When we focus on the essential elements of a checkout process, we can observe that creating an account is frequently the best option. Some online stores do not allow users to shop prior to creating an account. In such scenarios, potential buyers just abandon if they're required to provide further information than their email and shipping addresses.

However, we noticed that over two-thirds of these businesses have opted for a guest account, suggesting that mandatory account setup might be a significant barrier in the checkout process.

Sometimes overlooked, the address filling stage of the checkout process is the last crucial step with regards to securing a purchase. Our findings reveal that almost half the companies have managed to reduce the number of clicks required to fill an address section down to just 2. Whilst this is certainly a step in the right direction, it doesn’t completely solve the address accuracy issue.

To make matters worse, some websites force people to choose their address from a long dropdown list, which is enough to discourage even the most motivated of buyers.

This is where autocomplete comes into play and often makes the world of difference. Though the majority of online UK retailers rely on autocomplete, more than 40% of them don’t have a solution in place.

 

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How is autocomplete used?

There are varying types of autocomplete. Some companies use solutions offering autocomplete from the first letter typed, which is very expensive. A very small number of them only autocomplete postcodes, whilst a little more of them purely restrict themselves to address autocompletion.

With the best in class solution autocomplete solution, it makes it really easy for customers to type a location search whilst avoiding “no results found” and minimising typing errors with a predictive autocomplete tool that covers towns, cities, neighbourhoods, postcodes, full addresses and points of interest. 

Feel free to share/download the full pdf benchmark analysis

To conclude,  we’ve deduced from the study, 5 good practices online retailers need to have in mind in order to ensure a smooth checkout experience, whilst combining a guest login and autocomplete on both addresses and postcodes : 

  • Include checkout in their customer journey UX reflexion right from the start
  • Ensure access to comprehensive and up-to-date address database
  • Verify the addresses in order to prevent delivery issues
  • Prevent users from re-inputting the same information during the checkout process
  • Display all Click & Collect locations on a map so that customers can easily select their preferred one


Some of the UK’s leading retailers (Screwfix, Toolstation and Mitchells & Butlers) already rely on our solutions to offer a seamless checkout experience.

 

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