Nine out of every ten people who shop online have problems with the web sites they buy from. That’s the stunning conclusion from research conducted by Tealeaf, the customer experience company. What’s worse, is that this is the fourth year in a row this study has been performed and it finds consistent results; the vast majority of online shoppers have a tough time online.

Is it any wonder, then, that online retailers are struggling to constantly find new customers. Just like bricks and mortart store owners, they are focusing on the wrong things. Instead of spending their effort on finding new customers, they should be working out how to make online life better for their existing shoppers. Indeed, the Tealeaf study also found that four out of every ten people who have a bad experience with an online retailer, will simply switch suppliers at a click of the mouse.

It’s the same in the “real world”; businesses are too busy focusing on the wrong things. Yesterday, for instance, I was at the Royal Berkshire Show in Newbury with my wife and son (aged 8). It’s a massive show with everything from cattle, to show jumping, to shopping, a fun fair, and every make of car and tractor you can think of.

My son was keen to try out the small car driving course being run by the local Peugeot dealers. They had set up a small street-like circuit with little electric cars that children could drive. Fab.

We decided to do a few other things first and then head back to the Peugeot display stand around 4.30pm. There were several Peugeot people around and a handful of children were already on the track, with more waiting their turn for their “driving lesson”. My son was really excited, but was rapidly transformed to tears by the “man from Peugeot” who merely shouted at us “We’re closed!”

In a second, my son’s day-long dream of driving was shattered. I was, well, you can imagine my feelings. The show itself lasts until around 6.30pm, so why they were “closing” two hours ahead of schedule defeats me. I wonder if they will ever understand at Peugeot why I will never buy one of their cars? It has nothing to do with the build quality, the deal they offer or the features of each vehicle. It’s because they treated my son so badly and made him cry. I bet that’s not in their sales staff text books.

And so it is online – Internet retailers are losing customers day in, day out, because they have their eye on something unimportant, like shopping cart time, or availability of products, or shipping options. Instead, the customers are focused on the emotional experience of shopping – and that’s what most online retailers ignore. And that’s why nine out of ten people find problems with online shops.

We get upset, we get angry, we get annoyed – none of which are positive emotions. Online retailers need to forget the technical aspects of their offering and look instead at the emotional experience of their Internet shops. Do that and it will transform the Tealeaf study so that next year it won’t be the fifth year in a row with the same results.

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