Shoppers' State of Mind Affects Customer Experience

Frustrations include poor service, slow load times and confusing store layouts

Based on the titles of two new studies, “Stress Shopping” and “Retail Nightmares,” it’s a sad state of affairs for shoppers, in-store and online. 

Emotions play a role in shopping behavior even if consumers don't think that they do. According to a recent survey of UK and US internet users by analytics firm Clicktale, 78% of respondents believe they are rational when they shop.

Yet 40% said they shop to calm down, and 74% said they have "stress-shopped" in the past. Younger shoppers and women were more likely to engage in this behavior; 62% of those ages 16 to 24 stress-shop and women were 12% likelier than men to shop for this reason.

As far as stress-inducing situations go, in-store shopping was considered more stressful than online. Close to one-third had lost their temper while shopping in a store, while 15% lost their cool with a mobile app or ecommerce site.

What’s the problem with brick and mortar? According to Clicktale, it’s the staff and the store, equally. Fully 83% of respondents cited both frustration with hard to navigate store layouts and being followed by sales associates.

Humans were also the source of in-store problems per an April 2018 survey of US digital shoppers by voice of the customer analytics provider Usabilla. A negative experience with sales staff was the primary reason (42.6%) that would cause them not to return. Meanwhile, 45% of respondents would prefer a sales associate to be available but not to approach them. And 49% had lied to a salesperson to get out of a conversation. 

Poor customer service has more impact on the shopping experience than many brands think. 

When shopping digitally, the Usabilla data showed encountering too many ads was the biggest frustration, felt by a majority on desktop (53%) and to a lesser degree on mobile (40%). When buying items, having to re-enter information during checkout was the leading frustration for 34% of desktop shoppers and 31% of mobile shoppers.

In both studies, time-wasting was a stressor. Transactions that took too long was the leading pain point for 22% of mobile shoppers and 19% of desktop shoppers, according to Usabilla, while 81% of respondents in the Clicktale survey said ecommerce sites that loaded too slowly were a source of stress. 

Conversely, speed was the leading factor (94%) that contributed to a great online experience, according to digital buyers in the US, UK and Australia surveyed by remarketing firm Cloud IQ in September 2017.

According to a September 2017 Astound Commerce survey, the top two factors that US digital buyers cited as influential on purchasing were very fundamental: quality of the website experience (61%) and quality of the physical store experience (52%).

Improving the customer experience is a priority for most marketers, but getting it right takes more than basic demographic or behavioral data. Just 22% of marketers in North America used psychographic data for segmentation and only 11% employed intent analysis, according to a March 2018 survey by CMO Council and RedPoint Global. Understanding emotion and putting it in context are the missing variables.