Online shopping experience must match the in-store one

It’s little surprise to me that shoppers are abandoning online grocery shopping (’One in four abandon online shopping’). When online grocery shopping began, consumers were wooed by the idea of a hassle-free
shop. They could avoid the queues and do their shopping virtually, from the comfort of their own home.

Sadly, they discovered an altogether different experience online. Some shops are so difficult to navigate that it can take almost as long to shop online as in person. When your groceries finally arrive you have to deal with produce that is annoyingly close to its sell-by date, or irrelevant or amusing substitutions – and you have to pay up to £5 for this service. Shopping in person is starting to look a lot easier and less hassle.

People actually enjoy the act of shopping. There is a definite social element as well as a visceral one, and this is why some of the big brand supermarkets have gone out of their way to design beautiful shopping experiences. Sadly the online world hasn’t caught up, with the major grocery stores offering the same utilitarian experience they always have.

In order to catch up, online stores need to do two things. First, make online shopping faster and more convenient. Second, design a web experience that, if not fun, is at least pleasing. Grocery sites need to have better designs, improved product information and professional images. Product comparisons and recommendations, nutritional advice, automatic reorders and better mobile integration all have a part to play.

If online stores can’t match the physical experience of shopping, they need to focus on what the web is good at, and fast. Otherwise shopping online will continue to feel like a poor substitute, with none of the benefits of the real world, but all the impersonality and frustrations that come with a badly designed web experience.

Andy Budd
Managing director
Clearleft

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