Thursday, 13 August 2009

Is stat so?

We’ve just received the results from a survey carried out by feedback forum Feefo. Not surprising, its main findings say that consumers are less likely to trust an online company they have never heard of. It found that more than half of online shoppers are “more likely to buy from websites carrying independent product (53%) and service (51%) reviews from past customers”. Fair enough.

However, one of the findings struck me as erroneous: “Even when purchasing from legitimate websites, one in eight people (13%) has experienced problems ranging from goods being faulty or not turning up at all, to being unable to return items or get a refund.

First, I don’t think that statistic should be used to demonise online shopping. When shopping in general, how many of us have taken something we bought on the high street back to the store because it was faulty? How many have had problems returning items in-store? Or, regardless of channel, have had a bad experience with a customer service rep?

Second, one in eight seems very low… I had to return a top recently because the seam was torn. A straw poll of my colleagues reveals a similar picture. We’ve all had to return or query an order at one point or another. And surely it depends on how frequently a consumer transacts online as to how likely he is to experience problems. I have been shopping online regularly for 10 years (first-ever purchase from Amazon, 1999), so I am much more “at risk” of encountering a problem than someone who makes one or two purchases a year.

So what is Feefo trying to say? If it’s saying that transacting online is comparatively safer or less hassle than shopping on the high street, I’ll buy into that. Otherwise, I am not quite sure how it wants me to read that…--MT

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