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United Kingdom must eliminate online bugs

Retailers are still struggling with digital. While many have made omnichannel, personalisation, and customer experience top priorities for the last few years, most aren’t keeping up with consumer expectations.

In order to determine where retailers were falling short, Applause conducted a detailed assessment of the 2018 digital Christmas season, and identified key areas for improvement. Their community of highly-vetted testers scored the functionality, user experience (UX), and omnichannel maturity of 52 top global retailers, evaluating their successes and failures during the season.

In total, Applause found more than 3,000 bugs in production, and many of these were serious enough to leave hundreds of millions in revenue on the table.

But not all bugs are created equal. While some may simply annoy users and negatively influence their experience, others can be catastrophic and block transactions completely.

Applause broke out the bugs into three key classifications:

  • Blockers

The most disruptive bugs are blockers, which prohibit a user from completing the intended transaction for 14 days. Problems with payment methods or other major errors in the shopping cart, for example, prevented shoppers from making a purchase.

  • Delayers

These errors do not entirely block a consumer’s intended transaction but delay the transaction or checkout process by at least three seconds. Delayers prevent only an estimated 7% of comparable transaction scenarios from converting to sales when they remain in production for 30 days. For example, errors with search may delay purchases by making products hard to find.

  • Non-impacting

These bugs did not impact the buying or transaction process and were excluded from Applause’s cost calculations. Even though they were not counted toward the total, non-impacting bugs, like broken links and graphics incorrectly formatting, can shake customer confidence and will add up to become more costly over time if they are too frequent.

Focusing on ten of the top US retailers, Applause found more than $60 million in Christmas sales were lost because of just 65 high-severity bugs that were classified as either blockers or delayers. On average, each of these bugs cost $915,240 during the holiday season. Escaped bugs are a major drain on revenues. Retailers may think test automation will save them from these million-dollar mistakes, but if they’re not conducting exploratory testing in the real world they may never know what is delaying or derailing purchases.

To further understand the issue on a global scale, Applause also compared the digital experiences of retailers across the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany. Each country was judged based on a maximum score of 10: five points for functional stability and five for UX optimisation. In the end, the US received the highest UX score, Germany had the fewest bugs, and the UK was the weakest across the board.

Retailers struggled in similar ways across the globe. Not surprisingly, buggy websites or brands that lacked key features had poor UX scores. Meanwhile, those with stable code and more features were favourably judged.

Retailers that want to meet digital expectations must identify customer pain points and strive to improve the experience. This report reviews the bugs and usability errors of 52 retailers over the last peakseason, the impact of those findings, and recommendations brands can deploy to improve their experiences in 2019.

Download the full report here.

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