By Aimee Chanthadavong

A survey has revealed 87 per cent of Australian shoppers need some form of help during their online purchasing journey.

The Connecting with Customers Report, commissioned by LivePerson and conducted by Loudhouse, has identified while consumers are self-sufficient they expect more personalised assistance during their online shopping journey. Over a third (36 per cent) of Australian shoppers abandon a website because they have difficulty in getting any help online – the highest of all countries surveyed in our global study – which indicates a huge opportunity for local brands to improve the online customer experience.

Dustin Dean, LivePerson APAC vice president, told RetailBiz while consumers are the one driving the need for retailers to be online, the onus is on businesses to be ready to meet the demand of consumers.

“I think traditionally a lot of companies look at a website as a storefront as oppose to an economical way of distribution, which is why if retailers don’t include things like product information it’ll be difficult for consumers to complete a transaction,” he said.

“The analogy I’ve heard is that websites aren’t vending machines. Retailers need to remember consumers will have the same or even more questions and concerns as it’s more difficult to shop online despite the convenience factor.”

Furthermore, over 90 per cent see real-time help as useful when shopping online and 60 per cent would like to have live chat made available.

“I think the perception about online shopping is it’s going to be convenient and that has been the primary driver for shopping online. Price has also been perceived to be a driver but I think we’ve come to a point where price is now difficult differentiate and same with products as those found online and in-store are no longer that different. So now it comes down to service and the brand experience you give to consumers because people who are shopping online want that experience,” Dean said.

When it comes to customer experience, the report found there are gaps in terms of the level and consistency of service across channels, including online, in-store and mobile. Australian shoppers are less likely to be satisfied with the customer service they receive both in store and online compared to other markets, with 73 per cent of respondents indicating they are satisfied with customer service when shopping in-store and 64 per cent are satisfied with online customer service.

“There are technologies that give businesses access to data about online consumers as they come to the site so retailers can capitalise on it and use that information to cater to existing consumer needs. That’s what advantage retailers have online because when a customer goes into the store the store staff don’t know who they’re dealing with. So the better you can make your site the better outcome for all,” Dean said.

“Inevitably there will be situations where self-service presentations aren’t enough and consumers will be for alternative ways to engage with retailers, which is why persoanlised assistance online is going to be key.”