8 common online shopping problems customers have, and how to remedy them

15th October 2020


Whether your store has a physical address or is purely e-commerce based, being able to sell online has proven to boost sales for small businesses across the globe. The impact of COVID-19 has also accelerated the need for reliable, accessible, and safe online shopping for all.

So, why do so many consumers still have online shopping problems, in the age of social distancing and epic technology? And what can you do to help your customers feel comfortable with shopping at your online store? 

Remedying common online shopping problems

1. “Online shopping isn’t safe.”

Despite the innovations in security for online payments in recent years, many are still wary to share their financial information, in any context. It can’t be denied, scammers do pose a real threat, but they are not limited to the e-commerce world. The latest statistics for South Africa indicate that credit card fraud is far more prevalent via phone calls or emails (phishing), when making payments abroad (often without 3D secure), and at ATMs. 

The trick to reassuring your customers is to make sure they know that you only use a reputable online payment platform, with accreditation, data encryption software, and 3D secure. For those customers who still aren’t convinced, you could offer EFT as an alternative payment method.

Some people also worry about whether an online store is a credible business venture. Easily handle this issue by creating a smart e-commerce site, spending time on making it look and feel professional. Clearly display your contact details, physical address (if applicable), and social media badges, which allows customers to confirm that you really exist.

2. “It’s easier to go to the shops.”

Not everyone realises that shopping online saves them time and money. The trick is to find a way to shift perception, so customers can see the extra value being offered. People crave instant gratification, which is why delivery efficiency is so crucial. Try offering buy-online-pick-up-in-store for those who just can’t wait. It’s also important to limit delivery costs as much as possible: free delivery has been proven to increase average order value. If your delivery isn’t free, you must offer a free option like picking up in-store. 

3. “I worry that I won’t get a full refund if I send something back.”

Some customers don’t want to take the risk that an item arrives damaged, isn’t what they expected, or that they change their mind. They stress about whether they’ll get their money back, how long it’ll take, and whether they have understood all the returns “fine print”.

Luckily, there are laws in South Africa to protect customers: like the ECT and the CPA. They stipulate that damaged goods, or even items bought on a whim, may be returned within 7 days for a full refund. However, some stores take extra trouble to soothe online shopping problems: by offering an extended returns window (up to 30 days); arranging returns pick-ups through their own couriers (free of charge, if possible); or offering in-store returns with immediate refunds in person. Make sure that a link to your returns policy is clearly visible throughout the purchasing process. Plus, really go the extra mile with after-sales support to help facilitate the entire experience.

4. “I can’t tell the quality or size of products online.”

Consumers worry that they can’t see, touch or feel an item – and even more so for clothing and accessories. This is why it’s so important to provide sizing guides, and as much information about the product as possible. Clearly explain what it’s made of, where it comes from, all its dimensions, colour options, care instructions, and how it works. Show lots of high-res images of it being used by a real human where possible, to enhance a personal connection at a distance. Enabling live chat or having a phone number to call, provides that extra reassurance that someone is available to provide more information or advice. And don’t forget to stress your quick and efficient returns policy.

5. “I don’t have a computer so I can’t shop online.”

Thankfully this one is easy enough to address! With fast mobile internet connections and state-of-the-art software a standard feature on most smartphones, shopping from a mobile device is easy, secure and convenient. Tell your customers that they can easily find your store through their normal smartphone’s browser app. And prominently display your store’s URL on all marketing and correspondence.

6. “Shopping online is complicated.”

The trick to addressing this common misconception is to streamline your shopping site: make browsing simpler with search and filter features; keep checkout as quick and easy as possible; and allow customers to save their billing information for next time (if they feel comfortable to). Once again, it also helps to have a live chat feature or a phone line where someone can get assistance immediately if they’re having online shopping problems

7. “I can’t shop online because I don’t have a credit card.”

Most online payment gateways like Yoco, accept debit cards too – and making EFT a payment option means you don’t have to turn anyone away. If the customer wants to pick up their order in-store, you could also offer to allow them to pay at that stage. Offer your customers as many different choices as are feasible, allowing them to feel the most at ease, on their terms.

8. “I’ll have to be home all day to receive my delivery.”

Newcomers to online shopping often don’t realise that they can schedule a delivery within a certain time frame. When setting up your account with your courier partner, make sure to stipulate that a delivery window be offered for each order. This means that shoppers can rest assured that delivery will take place when it suits them. 

It’s easier for some to try new things than for others, but creating an atmosphere of openness and transparency means you are approachable no matter who you’re selling to.

Trusting an online system to deliver the same level of customer service and reliability can be an adjustment, so showing a commitment to addressing and reassuring your customers’ online shopping problems will go a long way in opening the door to your e-commerce store.