71% of Malaysian shoppers regret their online purchases, 76% never or rarely interact with merchants
Study highlights the real need to make smart decisions while shopping online
ABOUT 71% of online shoppers in Malaysia regret their purchases, often due to mismatched expectations, according to a new study released by Rakuten.
The Internet service company, and owner of Malaysian marketplace Rakuten Online Shopping, recently released findings of its inaugural Rakuten Smart Shopping Survey.
The commissioned study of more than 2,000 online consumers across Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan revealed that only 29% of Malaysian respondents were satisfied with goods they purchased online in the last 12 months.
About 48% attributed the key reason for their dissatisfaction to products looking different when they arrive in comparison with what they had been led to believe, while 29% said it was due to poor product quality.
Commenting on the findings of the study, Masaya Ueno (pic), president and chief executive officer of Rakuten Online Shopping, said that be it online or offline, it is critical for consumers to make smart decisions by evaluating the credibility and reliability of merchants.
“Choosing legitimate, reputable and secure online shopping sites while having clarity of the product offerings before they proceed with the purchase will ensure that the overall shopping experience is not affected,” he said.
That only 29% of respondents in Malaysia never regretted their online purchases was what caught Ueno and Rakuten’s attention, as the trend also appears to be consistent across all the markets surveyed (Thailand, 2%; Indonesia, 16%; Taiwan, 14%).
“While it is not entirely surprising, the numbers firmly validate that the tendency of people regretting their online purchases is inevitable,” he added.
In response to this, Ueno said consumers should take a smarter approach when shopping online. On the other side of the transaction, the survey findings also indicate the need for online shopkeepers to better engage and serve consumers form pre-purchase to post-purchase.
“This is not limited only to having good customer service, but also quality photography and detailed product specifications to help shoppers decide, as well as providing friendly return policy terms,” he added.
The study also found that 76% of Malaysian respondents never or rarely interact with merchants during the online shopping process and those who do, mainly preferred email over telephone or live chat.
Comparatively, in Indonesia, almost half (42%) the respondents frequently communicate with vendors, while Taiwan on the other hand showed the least interaction with only 10% communicating with merchants.
Ueno said that consumers are “missing a beat here," spending time online and purchasing products without asking questions.
“Consumers should expect the same experience they enjoy from their favourite local shops, which means talking to the experts and building a sense of trust in the merchants and the products. The retailers that are smart will be able to offer this,” he added.
When asked if merchants are prepared to handle the kind of commitment required to support and sustain that level of customer engagement and support, Ueno said that online businesses in Malaysia are aware of the need for robust customer support.
“In fact a majority of them have dedicated resources in place to cater customer enquiries. We believe, however, that businesses could take proactive steps to improve on the support level and make it effective not only to address customer enquiries, but to build long-term loyalty,” he added.
Uneo pointed to Rakuten’s business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) virtual shopping centre as an example, explaining that the company’s approach combines “omotenashi”, a culturally based, high-service mind-set to create connections with and between consumers.
“By enabling a direct customer-merchant communication, this model is able to replicate the important interaction in the online world, just as how a customer and sales assistant would interact in the offline process,” he added.
The study also found that approximately one-third (30%) of Malaysians failed to complete their online purchases, as they prefer to research the products further and decide if they will purchase them.
The finding contradicts the claim that e-commerce offers convenience and would not take up a significant amount of time.
“Extending research to engage and interact with merchants can save shoppers a lot of time and effort as it would help them validate their decisions. Just like when shopping in the offline world, it is common for a customer to consult sales staff for advice on product specifications or simply to get an opinion on whether the goods they intend to buy is right for them,” said Masaya.
A secure website and transaction (83%) is the most important factor that influence their online shopping decision, followed by price (78%) and quality products with detailed photos (70%).
In terms of payment preferences, the study also showed that less than half (44%) of Malaysian respondents favoured payment via credit and debit cards.
In Taiwan however, 57% prefer credit and debit cards over cash-on-delivery or e-wallets. Indonesian online shoppers have a clear preference and will take PayPal, AliPay and other e-wallet services over other payment methods.
Redshift Research, a full service market research agency, based in the United Kingdom, conducted the survey on Rakuten’s behalf.
The Rakuten Smart Shopping survey was carried out in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct, which guarantees anonymity to all respondents, the company said.
The sample was selected from the Crowdology and Crowdology partner panels, an online panel owned and operated by Redshift Research. Each respondent completes a number of profiling questions before being accepted to join its panel, and was not selected from Rakuten’s list of customers.
To view the full infographic and survey results [PDF], click here.
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