• User Research

4th Sep 2014

5 min

Participants in user research face the same issues on sites time and time again, namely at the delivery and checkout stage. But the good news is that sites can easily remedy these common problems.

Conducting 100s of hours of research shows us first-hand the real frustrations users face online. Here are the main offenders which stop a customer in their tracks and our tips to avoid your customers falling into the same basket (excuse the pun!)…

by Bev Sykes

Photo, Bev Sykes


User Research: Real Users, Real Insights


1. Hidden Costs

Our mantra with delivery is ‘transparency is key’. Delivery is one of the most important factors in the world of online purchasing. Whether it’s free or at a cost, delivery information should be clear and easy to find so that customers do not feel they are being tricked with added costs later on.

There seems to be a tendency to hide the delivery cost if there is one; the idea being by the time customer sees it they’ll be so bought into the product, they’ll just buy it anyway. However, it’s likely that the buyer starts their purchase journey by comparing a few sites. If they can’t see delivery costs on your site then they can’t make a considered comparison and are most likely to discount you at this stage.

The participant below was looking to buy household furniture:

“I want to know what the whole price is including delivery. It’s easier when they put the price with the delivery, just simple information. People don’t have a lot of time, they want to see it there and then.”

We see users get anxious because they aren’t sure when the charge will be added and they lose focus while searching for the delivery charge. They feel like they are being tricked and are frustrated when they see a delivery cost added in the checkout.

With clear delivery information customers can make a well thought out and confident purchase without apprehension.

Top tip: If you have a delivery charge, be transparent and show this upfront so that your customers can make an informed decision. If the cost is a substantial amount then try and justify it. For example, household furniture often includes a delivery charge – sell this as a service; the furniture will be delivered to any floor, any room and packaging taken away etc.

2. Delivery Options

Offering one standard delivery method is a thing of the past: same day delivery, click and collect, and nominated time slots are expected by customers because convenience is crucial. Offering a range of choices give customers confidence that there will be an option appropriate to their needs.

Our research shows that customers who have to wait for more than seven days for delivery of retail items are less likely to continue to purchase online, with many stating they may as well go and buy it in store.

The participants below were shopping for shoes and comparing delivery options across sites.

“See here standard delivery is four quid. I’m thinking if somewhere else can do it for free, why would I pay? If I do have to pay I would probably pay a couple of extra quid for next day.”

“Shoe store A is obviously better, because you’ve got guaranteed delivery. Shoe store B is free delivery, but it could be up to seven days. So you don’t know which day it’s coming.”

“It’s not got the option for when you want it delivered, it’s only got one standard delivery option. That’s the only thing, you don’t have the choice.”

Top tip: Be flexible. If customers are willing to pay for quicker delivery then test new delivery options.

3. Guest Checkout

The idea of registering to buy online fills customers with dread. Even the word ‘register’ on a page seems to cause some sort of innate negative reaction. At this stage the customer does not see any benefit to creating an account; it’s just something that’s in the way of them purchasing the item they’ve just spent time carefully choosing, so how this messaging is conveyed is extremely important.

In reality the only difference in guest checkout and registering to checkout is a password yet this is not how customers perceive it. Here are some of the reactions we hear when new customers land on pages where they are asked to register:

“I just want to enter an email address. I hate this. I shouldn’t have to fill all this in and register to order an eight-pound t-shirt.”

Creating an account is a nightmare. It’s a headache going through all that… if guest checkout was there I’d go with that.”

Top tip: Ask customers to create an account by simply adding a password once they’ve entered their contact and delivery details. Displaying some account benefits at this stage is a much more seamless journey and one which we find customers are much more receptive to.


How many are you guilty of? The three examples above are the most consistent frustrations to crop up in our user research, yet they are fairly easy to test and rectify. The issues could be used as the basis for hypotheses to test e.g. introducing guest checkout, transparent delivery costs and convenient, flexible delivery options, thus showing the impact and critical influence these frustrations have been having on your customers and sales.

For information on tools and methods, check out our beginner’s guide to user research.

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