The primary objective of this research was to investigate website design imperatives that were vital from a customer perspective. Customer journeys were constructed at the core of this investigation. Customer journey mapping itself is a linear, time-based, depiction of the main stages that a customer goes through while interacting with the retailer

What we did

Participants were required to select their current emotion from a table of emotions. Thereafter they were provided with a task list to complete on one of two websites. The participants’ interactions with the website along with a video of their face were also recorded during the experiment using web usability software. They could check out one piece of their choice at the end of the experiment. Further, the participant was required to describe their emotions at each stage of the journey by selecting from a set of emotions. The set of emotions employed in the study were taken from Steenkamp and Laros (2003) hierarchy of consumer emotions.

What we Found

Through an analysis of customer emotions at the five stages of the customer journey (site entering, browsing products, assessing products, managing cart and checkout) specific trends emerged related to consumer emotions. All participants exhibited positive emotions during the first three stages of their online customer journey, i.e., website entering, browsing products and assessing products. However, during the final stages of their online customer journey, i.e., managing cart and checkout, many of the participants exhibited negative emotions such as worry, helplessness and frustration. Positive emotions were consistent in the first two stages. The main website features that contributed to positive emotions were features such as the ability to filter products by size and view by price based on personal requirements. These findings are explicitly outlined in the thesis. Additionally, product variety also contributed to happiness and positive emotions. There were other features such as the trends sections (sections on the website showing products in use) which further captivated the participants, leading to positive emotions. Some participants during the stage of assessing products did exhibit negative emotions of worry and helplessness. The cause of negative emotions was primarily due to the lack of enough product images and product information. Besides some items, the participants wanted were out of stock resulting in negative emotions.

Respondents did not purchase an item if there wasn’t enough product information and images. Literature conceptualised this concept as perceived product risk. Product information and presentation helps eliminate the uncertainty associated with online shopping. Finally, as participants progressed in their online shopping journey towards the checkout stage, more participants exhibited negative emotions of helplessness and worry. The participants that displayed negative emotions indicated they were concerned about the delivery time, not receiving similar items and about making the right purchase choice. Additionally, at checkout, respondents indicated that retailers asked them to provide information they did not require making them worried. On average, a participant spent 5.21 minutes checking out their items, going through several pages of forms and completing twenty-four fields of information before their order was completed. The volume of information and time associated with checkout resulted in negative emotions.

Online consumers seek connivence and often want economise on time. The level of complication associated with the checkout process determines whether the customer will complete their order. The number of forms required, the amount of personal and financial information required factor in completing an order.