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Time to deliver: New report shows Australian online retailers what shoppers REALLY want

More Australian businesses should just get the basics right and focus on the end-to-end customer experience online, or visitors will simply click away.

That's the warning contained in a new Ernst & Young report into online shopping, which found that Australians plan to spend a massive 35% of their Christmas budget online, and that shoppers value fast and reliable delivery, and competitive prices, above all else.

Also, the survey of more than 600 local shoppers found that 57% prefer to buy from local sites – although that preference drops as the age of the consumer falls.

But Ernst & Young customer leader advisory John Rolland says the biggest lesson is that sites need to get the fundamentals of online shopping right, or 25% will simply abandon their purchase.

These include prompt delivery, good prices, and getting orders right the first time. Delivery was actually cited as most important by 30% of shoppers, beating prices at 18%.

"I know we know this, but for Australian retailers I don't think they get that fact," Rolland says.

"Putting great product on a website that doesn't work is not the answer. The customer sees the entire experience, including the performance of the site, the delivery and so on, as the product itself."

Some of the report's finding should grab retailers' attention. The survey found 47% believe value for money was more important than buying from sites that are Australian-owned. This perception of the international market as a level playing field also plays into cost, with 54% saying Australian retailers should offer the same prices as offshore sites.

"The analogy I use is having to wait in a queue in a shop is no different to the performance we saw in Click Frenzy," says Rolland.

"I just don't know that Australian retailers in general get what the consumer is expecting."

The results suggest they don't: Shoppers said they felt frustrated by a lack of friendly navigation, slow delivery, and were bothered by the fact it took too long to gather information.

In fact, this actually leads to lost sales. Although 6% of people said they abandoned a purchase due to inconvenience, 19% said they would give up if they couldn't find what they are looking for, or if they felt buying online would cost more when delivery is factored in.

The two biggest complaints were around delivery: 51% of shoppers cited wanting shorter delivery times, and 47% wanted fewer hidden costs and fees.

But local retailers aren't completely trailing international counterparts, Rolland says. Aussie online stores have a good chance to provide personalisation by integrating with bricks and mortar operations.

"It's something that domestic retailers have the chance to do better," he says, adding that sites could add a personalisation element to a shopper's account, offering products they'd be likely to buy based on their purchase history.

But overall, he says, it's all about the basics.

"They need to look at the end to end customer experience, and then build on that to differentiate themselves. Just get the basics right first."

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