E-commerce now requires more effort compared to pre-pandemic levels. This may be attributed to a combination of sectors lagging behind in reducing effort, as well as customers having a lower tolerance for friction, according to the EAS 2.0 Report 2023.
As almost all customer journeys have been digitalized by businesses, the benefits of reducing physical effort have peaked. Being effortless on the physical effort dimensions is now table stakes,” it said.
Achieving desired outcomes continues to need multiple attempts across industries. In a digital world, this translates into higher time required than what customers expect to spend. In a digital journey, customers have significantly lower temporal tolerance, and even small delays impact how effortful they perceive a brand to be, the report stated.
According to the report, the post-purchase phase, particularly customer service, is the most time-consuming stage in E-commerce. The need for several iterations to achieve the correct support and repeated status check-ins are the key effort drivers.
As per the report, in e-commerce, decision overload in the process of selecting the proper product causes the most cognitive stress and, counterintuitively, dissonance.
More than a third of respondents said they had to spend more time than they anticipated, and identifying the proper items is the key driver of cognitive effort in this market, according to the report.
Interacting with “chat support” is the main source of perceived effort.
Most activities throughout the interaction need several tries and follow-ups. However, because the sector is digitally native, repeated attempts do not necessitate a “dedicated” physical effort. As a result, the sector is not seen to need a lot of physical work. According to the report, the recurrent attempts reveal themselves in the other areas of friction- perceptual and cognitive, it said.
More than 41 per cent of respondents said that they would require more than double the time they planned to spend selecting the proper product, it said.
This step takes the most time and requires the most effort for the consumer. According to the research, this is also the stage that requires the most cognitive work.
The major causes of friction are option overload, a lack of clear information, and inappropriate advice, it stated.
Time taken and follow-ups required drive the friction. The effort of scheduling delivery times, anticipation of the product and the anxiety that the right product will indeed get delivered are primary drivers of high perceived effort, the report stated.
The perception of effort goes up as the customer has already put in significant effort in deciding and committing to the decision.
According to the report, more than 60 per cent of respondents require more than three iterations to receive appropriate assistance.
This is supported by the fact that in 2022, e-commerce businesses accounted for 48 per cent of consumer grievance reports filed with the National Consumer Helpline (NCH).
The number of follow-ups necessary, as well as the time required, dictate the effort for this stage. This stage is also burdened by a strong perception of effort. A buy return or a replacement suggests the requirement of having to re-do a portion or complete the purchase choice.