Most consumers are leaving stores or abandoning online shopping sessions because they can't easily find what they were want, according to a survey commissioned by IT automation firm Redwood Software. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The study found that poor customer service, redundant questions, and disconnected processes are the key driving forces leading customers to abandon purchases, switch suppliers, or terminate contracts.

Increasingly, customers expect companies' online and physical storefronts to be integrated, delivering a seamless end-to-end experience. Waiting for a sales assistant to physically check stock room inventory made almost half (44.6%) of respondents furious. More so, an assistant's inability to tell a shopper whether a desired item was in-stock online, or in another store, was also cited as frustrating (40.4%).

When asked about shopping habits, 83.15% of shoppers are leaving stores (and 72.5% leaving online marketplaces) because they weren't easily able to find what they were looking for.

Other key in-store and online shopping annoyances included:

  • Going to a store to purchase something only to discover that that item was out of stock (51.75%). And 37.3% were similarly annoyed when the same thing happened with online purchases;
  • The hassle of returning unwanted purchases online (57%);
  • The hassle of returning unwanted purchases in-store (33.35%);
  • Experiencing a delay in money being returned to a shopper's account following a return (46.9%);
  • Not receiving acknowledgement from a company that a returned item was received (39.25%).

Even customer service desks that are meant to address issues such as these came under fire, as 55.2% reported annoyance at having to complete an automated telephone system by entering their personal information, only to be asked the same or more questions by an operator. Similarly, 55.45% were annoyed when repeating information to multiple people or departments across transfers.

Brands must also begin delivering even more streamlined and efficient end-to-end service for their customers, as two thirds of consumers said they had terminated online purchases because they took too long (66%) or were too complicated (60.8%). More worryingly for brands, over half of respondents (58.25%) said they have terminated contracts or changed suppliers because of continued service failings.

"It's often the little problems that cause the biggest issues," said Tijl Vuyk, CEO of Redwood Software. "In a time where customer loyalty is low, brand reputation is critical, and speedy service is imperative, it's surprising how many businesses are ignoring these disconnected things. Businesses can't afford to keep losing customers; they need to be doing everything within their power to keep them engaged and spending."