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UK retailers failing to meet consumer demand for engaging e-commerce experiences


  • 88% of consumers want user reviews; only 42% of retailers provide them

  • 80% of consumers want recommendations based on purchases from other users; just 20% of retailers have this feature

  • 83% of consumers want to be able to compare products; only half of retailers enable this

London, 15th March 2011: The websites of UK retailers are failing to meet consumer expectations according to an EPiServer study, which asked consumers about their online shopping preferences and then benchmarked retailers to see how they shaped up. While retailers are ticking the boxes when it comes to the fundamentals of e-commerce, such as providing clear product images and effective search, they are not providing the engaging online shopping experience that consumers are demanding. The majority of retailers are also not taking advantage of social commerce, with many neglecting powerful features like recommendations, reviews and social media sharing links

The EPiServer report, entitled ‘Developing your e-commerce strategy: how to deliver what consumers really want’, is available to download from and presents the findings of a survey of 2,000 consumers exploring the online shopping features they look for in four areas: overall web experience, browsing, buying and after-sales. The report then reveals how 25 UK retailers, taken from the Hitwise Top 50 Hot Shops list, measured up to these consumer demands in a benchmark study.

The average score achieved by the retailers was a mediocre 63%, with the majority losing marks around value-added and social features. Despite 88% of consumers saying user reviews were vital or important to their e-commerce experience, only 42% of retailers provided them. And when it came to product recommendations like ‘other shoppers also bought’, only 20% of retailers included these despite 80% of consumers stating they were important.

Retailers performed well against the two elements that were ranked top by UK consumers, with 97% having a site that was easy to navigate and 96% having an effective search function. Retailers also scored well in other areas such as providing high quality images (96%), immediate email confirmations (96%) and swift product delivery (96%).

The top five consumer expectations vs. what retailers are delivering

 Consumer ExpectationsRetail Delivery on Consumer ExpectationsThe difference between consumer expectation and retail delivery
Easy navigation around the site97%100%3%
A quick checkout process 95%80%-15%
Easy to use product search95%96%1%
A pleasurable online experience89%63%-26%
A wide range of customer service options84%60%-24%

However, many consumers revealed they were looking for something a bit special from their online shopping experience and it is here that UK retailers slipped up. Even though 89% of consumers said they wanted a pleasurable online experience and 84% stated that a wide range of customer service options was important, only 63% and 60% of retailers providing these respectively. Elsewhere, only 68% of retailers provided loyalty schemes, 35% failed to display clear returns policies and only half provided the ability to compare products.

Ignoring the social web
The survey found that retailers were generally failing to use social features that would give consumers the opportunity to involve their peers in the shopping process. Only one in five provided the option to share links or products via social networks and just 32% of retailers featured blogs or articles.

Associations like ‘other shoppers bought’ were cited as important by 58% of consumers and deemed to be more valuable than other more widely used features like wish lists, but only 20% of retailers provided shoppers with recommendations according to what other users purchased.

“This research shows consumers are not receiving the experience they expect when shopping online,” said Maria Wasing, VP of Marketing Europe at EPiServer. “UK retailers need to develop their websites to provide more engaging, social features and content that will keep consumers on a site until a point of conversion or entice them to return if they leave the site. There are major challenges ahead for retailers in this fast-evolving digital age. The ones that tap into the power of the ‘social-web and social commerce’ to gain traffic, loyalty and revenue will be the ones that succeed.”

The full report can be downloaded at

- Ends -

Notes to Editors

For media information, please contact:
Alizia Walker
Wildfire PR
Tel: +44 20 8339 4420

The benchmark study selected 25 UK retailers from the Hitwise Top 50 Hot Shops list and scored them against a range of criteria for an in-depth assessment of the e-commerce experience they offer consumers. The key online areas assessed were: overall experience; browsing; buying and after sales. Each website was then awarded a score out of 590. These websites were analysed between 20th January and the 8th February 2011.

The consumer study surveyed over 2,000 people about their views around the areas such as:

  • The features that are important to an online shopping experience when visiting an e-commerce site

  • The features that are important to the online shopping experience when researching a product on an e-commerce site

  • The features that are important to the online shopping experience when purchasing a product on an e-commerce site

  • The top three most important elements that contribute to a positive online purchasing experience

The commerce consumer study was conducted in December 2010. The results of answers to the questions were translated into percentage values.

About EPiServer:
EPiServer is the world’s fastest growing provider of Web Content Management (WCM), online community and e-commerce platforms. More than 3,500 customers worldwide use EPiServer CMS to create collaborative and engaging websites. EPiServer CMS is the foundation for more than 10,000 websites and is used by more than 130,000 web editors daily. The EPiServer platform is delivered through an extensive network of over 500 partner companies in 30 countries. EPiServer combines the stability and support of a commercial product with EPiServer World, a thriving developer community of more than 11,000 developers. EPiServer is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with an AAA-ranking by Dun & Bradstreet since 2000. The company was founded in 1994 and has offices in the United States, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, The Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom. EPiServer is controlled by the IK2007 Fund. IK Investment Partners is a European private equity firm with Nordic roots, managing €5.7 billion in fund commitments. For more information, please visit