18 things retailers do that baffle and bewilder customers

18 things retailers do that baffle and bewilder customers

With all of the change required to move to omni-channel, from new processes, to staff training to new technologies, it's easy to make little mistakes that have a big impact on the customer experience. While little omni-channel errors are easily explained to anyone who understands retail, they are baffling to customers. And when your customers experience them it impacts how they feel about your brand and whether or not they decide to shop with you again.

Check out our list of 18 things that retailers do that baffle customers to make sure that you’re not guilty of any...

1. Contacting customers who have already picked
up their parcel to tell them their parcel is ready for pick-up

Man confused

This usually happens because you’ve managed to fulfil an order faster than the customer was expecting – which is a good thing! But make sure you turn off the automated messages or that the system is updated at the time of collection or you’ll have very confused customers!

2. Asking customers to review a product they never received

Low rating

So you made a mistake in getting an order to a customer, and then exacerbated the situation by asking them to review the product they never received. This is often down to using a third party to collect  reviews for you, which might be fine 97% of the time, but in this case such a communication is likely to really upset an already unhappy customer.

3. Forgetting to tell customers their click and collect
order is ready to pick up

Waiting by the phone

This is sometimes down to manual processes, like relying on store staff to call customers – and can easily be forgotten. Alternatively, it could be an issue with systems not being connected. This can really upset customers who may have ordered a product they needed at a specific time.

 4. Having conflicting information on your returns policy

Frustrated shopper

This often occurs because channels are managed by separate teams and there is no single person taking responsibility to ensure all communications are consistent – from the website to the returns slip to what the shop assistants in the store are telling customers. It may annoy customers who have made a purchase and wish to return it, while others will be put off at having to spend effort trying to understand the returns policy and will decide not to shop with you.

5. Accepting cross channel returns, without
returning the customer’s money

Unhappy customer

This usually happens because the store payment system and online payment system are disconnected and so returns from online orders have to be processed using the online system, which usually takes 8-14 days. This annoys customers who are used to getting an immediate refund when in store.

6. Assuming customers are home all day to collect your parcel

Missed delivery

This is typically down to delivery partners and the cost of delivery; however customers don’t see it that way. They just see it as an inconvenience.

7. Marketing products to a customer who has already bought them

Frustrated shopper

Retargeting sounds like a great idea, but if you don’t have all of your systems and data integrated, it's embarrassingly easy to market a product to a customer who has already bought it. It's annoying for customers and a waste of marketing budget.

8. Not allowing customers to send online orders
to an address other than their billing address

Delivery man

This is typically down to fraud rules. However, since most retailers (especially Amazon) are not precious about this, when customers come across one that is, they may just decide to shop elsewhere.

9. Making customers wait 3-5 days to pick up a
click and collect item that is available from store stock

Annoyed woman

This is typically because stock pools are separated by channel and there is a lack of visibility as to what items are in the store. However, to customers this is a real mind-boggler.

10. Returning completely irrelevant items when customers search online

Frustrated shopper

This is sometimes down to the capabilities of the commerce platform and sometimes down to resourcing. Customers who use on-site search are 3 times more likely to convert, so when you show someone who knows exactly what they want irrelevant items, chances are they’ll take their search elsewhere.

11. Letting customers purchase a product … and then
emailing them to tell them it is out of stock

Annoyed online shopper

This could be down to the way stock information is relayed to the commerce platform or the ‘reserve’ threshold levels set by the retailer. In either case, it results in an unforgivably bad shopping experience and probably a lost customer.

12. Forcing customers to create an account to purchase something

Annoyed shopper

Very few retailers do this anymore, but some are still holding out. This is probably only a small irritant for customers who expect to have to provide detail as part of the ordering process anyway. Consider asking customers to create an account at the end of the checkout, after they've already provided most of the requisite details.

13. Making customers wait in the regular queue
to pick up their click and collect order


This is usually down to space, but for customers with limited time it means queueing up rather than browsing the store (and buying additional items) before picking up their order.

14. Letting customers get 90% way through the check-out on
an international order and then nailing them with duty and delivery costs

Annoyed shoppers

This is just the result of an ill-thought-out check-out. There are plenty of examples where the cost of delivery is more than the order and in most cases it means an abandoned basket.

15. Not making your site easy to navigate on mobile

Man mobile shopping

This could be down to a lack of investment in responsive design or just a poorly designed website. For customers it's really annoying and probably means they won’t even bother to browse your site through this channel, let alone make a purchase.

16. Having shop assistants who don’t know
anything about the products

Clueless shop assistant

This is usually a combination of how staff are trained and how they are incentivised. Customers are mostly used to under-informed and disinterested shop assistants and so it probably won’t lose you many customers, but it won’t win you any either.

17. Not letting you earn loyalty points for online purchases

Frustrated shopper

This is another remnant of the day of the channel where many retailers found themselves with multiple loyalty programmes – ruling out the possibility of a single view of the customer. Not allowing loyalty points to be collected and redeemed across channel will serve to annoy your most loyal customers.

18. Not displaying service options clearly

Man shopping

This is a common mistake, but annoys customers who go to the trouble of completing all of the order information only to find that their preferred delivery method and/or date is not an option.