Ipsos Social Talks: Shopping Online During the Pandemic

Customer experiences across the e-commerce journey in GCC.

The acceptance and usage of e-commerce platforms is rising in the GCC as the world continues to shift towards digital. E-retailers are no longer the only significant players in the field, as brands are opening online shopping channels and the rise of social media platforms is allowing people to set up small online businesses, that they can run from their homes.

Adding on to that, is the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which boosted trial for e-commerce platforms as a means to purchase items amidst lockdowns, curfews and safety regulations.

Therefore, it is imperative to understand people’s perceptions towards online shopping platforms, the journey they experience as well as the pain points faced along the way. Moreover, it is vital to understand the impact that Covid-19 had on the online shopping landscape and the longevity of these changes.

Using social listening data, this report looks at how attitudes towards and conversations around e commerce have evolved during the last year, the key concerns of online shoppers, and the factors that companies should take note of in order to leverage growth in this area.

Key Takeaways:

Sudden Increase in E-Commerce Adoption Results in Mostly Negative Customer Experiences

COVID-19 drove more people to try e commerce platforms, yet e-commerce channels were not able to handle the increase in demand right away. Packages were late and some not even being delivered at all, orders were being cancelled without the knowledge of customers, customer sup port could not keep up and many refunds were not being processed in due time.

This led to a spike in negative sentiment towards e commerce platforms and drove some customers to file official complaints with the relevant authorities as well as advise others against shopping from specific platforms. However, as the second half of the year came around, e commerce channels began to adapt. While complaints and grievances eventually settled back to previous levels, the negative experiences continued to outweigh positive ones.

Exploration Phase Makes Up the Bulk of Online E-Commerce Conversations

Most online conversations are for customers exploring their options; making inquiries about the price or specificities of a product or tagging their friends on interesting products they find. With some people being new to e commerce, they have some basic questions regarding the procedures, setting up accounts and expected delivery times. Platforms need to ensure that key information is easy to find to allow new entrants a smooth transition into online shopping.

The Remainder of the Shopping Journey is Seeped in Negativity

Pain points arise during the in transit and post purchase phases when issues are faced. The in transit phase is particularly plagued by a lot of anger as it’s only mentioned when an issue arises and makes up a third of the conversation. Different pain points evoke varying degrees of anger, with broken or empty promises in package delivery and customer support being the key drivers of overt anger.

In some instances, this leads to customers vowing against using the platform ever again, advising others to do the same, and in some cases, filing an official complaint. As such, it is crucial to meet communicated expectations as people are less willing to give second chances and are more vocal about their displeasure.