Two Strikes and You’re Out: Direct-to-Consumer Brands Overestimate the Patience of Online Shoppers

New Brightpearl research highlights a disconnect between brands’ perception of their customer experience offering – and what shoppers really think

AUSTIN, TEXAS and BRISTOL, UKNovember 22nd 2018A new report released today reveals that 56% of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands mistakenly think it’s okay to have three or more ‘friction points’ in a customer buying journey – and they could be set to fail as a result.

The study, from Brightpearl, the world’s largest purpose-built retail ERP platform, looked closely at the most common inconveniences that frustrate online shoppers — from losing items in an online basket, struggling to find products, finding out payment and delivery options are not suitable, or even items delivered late or even not at all.

The survey concluded that, in reality, is that only 30% of US shoppers will accept more than two inconveniences before giving up on a purchase – with 46% having done exactly that in the last year.

Researchers identified unsatisfactory shopping experiences to be commonplace, despite the confidence of more than two-thirds of brands, which believe they offer ‘fast and frictionless’ experiences for their customers.

Brightpearl’s research revealed that 44% of US consumers have experienced an issue related to buying goods online in the last 12 months.

Poor online shopping experiences cause consumers to shop elsewhere

This apparent disconnect between brands’ assessment of their online customer experience and shoppers’ tolerance could jeopardize their relationship with shoppers. 60% of consumers also told researchers that if a shopping experience was poor, they would never shop with the same online store again, whilst 40% of shoppers stated that they regularly change where they buy goods based on their end-to-end buying experience.

“This research highlights a clear gap between brands’ perception of their customer experience and what shoppers really think,” said Derek O’Carroll, CEO, Brightpearl. “This disconnect could result in DTC businesses being eaten for breakfast by competitors that offer a more seamless buying journey and better customer service.”

According to the study, the biggest gripes for shoppers who’ve had negative shopping experiences mostly relate to delivery and returns. In the past year, 59% of consumers said they’ve bought goods that have not arrived when expected, while 43% of shoppers have experienced items not arriving at all. A quarter of shoppers cite items listed as out of stock after purchase as another major annoyance.

Identifying the cause of shopper frustrations is critical — both online and offline

Frustrations also exist for many consumers before they click ‘buy’. High shipping charges would drive away 75% of shoppers from a brand’s website; unsuitable delivery options would deter 45% of purchasers; and 32% of consumers would not order from companies that do not offer free returns.

The survey revealed several major pain points that would discourage customers from shopping with a brand:  

  • A website that crashes, is slow (35%) or is too complicated (31%)

  • A lack of product information, poorly designed pages (28%) or no reviews (24%)

  • Pre-purchase registration requirement (28%).

O’Carroll noted that while many brands describe being relatively happy with their own progress, this has not translated into the same levels of shopper satisfaction. This is especially important for direct-to-consumer brands, which compete on ease of purchase and a smooth experience from click to delivery.

“At any moment you risk losing customers, possibly forever, due to friction points along the buying journey. It’s essential to fix the issues that are causing shoppers headaches. Customers demand fast and frictionless experiences and if they don't get it, they are likely to go elsewhere,” stated O’Carroll. “Becoming a true direct-to-consumer brand means owning the entire customer experience, from discovery to delivery and beyond. This requires systems capable of closing the gaps across the entire customer experience that are leading to frustrations for consumers, most notably with the delivery and returns phase of a transaction,” he added.

Those curious to find out more developments in the DTC landscape should download the new report from Brightpearl and Endless Gain, titled ‘Fast & Frictionless: The New Reality for DTC Brands’:


The report results are derived from an electronic survey conducted in September 2018. Working in partnership with OnePoll, Brightpearl and Endless Gain canvassed the opinions of 200 retailers in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the views of 4,000 consumers.

About Brightpearl

Brightpearl is a cloud-based ERP for retailers and wholesalers. Our mission is clear: automate the back office so merchants can spend their time and money growing the business. Brightpearl’s complete back-office solution includes financial management, inventory and sales order management, purchasing and supplier management, CRM, fulfilment, warehouse and logistics. In addition, the solution includes high-performing connectors to the major e-commerce platforms, including Magento, BigCommerce, and Shopify.

Brightpearl is designed for retailers and wholesalers, and enables omnichannel merchants to manage the heart of their business easily from one single system. Our team guides merchants through a highly efficient implementation process that typically gets them up and running in less than 60 days. Founded in 2008 with offices in the U.S. and UK, Brightpearl is used by more than 1,200 merchants around the world that have collectively processed more than $1.4bn of orders in the last 12 months.

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