Four essential factors needed to achieve success online

July 18, 2016

With more consumers purchasing online than ever before – consumers spent ten percent more online in the twelve months to April 2016 according to the ONS than the year previously – having a great digital experience is key to securing some of this revenue. Derek Eccleston, Chief Development Officer at Maru/edr delves into online research results to reveal how to achieve a winning customer experience online.

Customer effort and ease have long been touted as the be all and end all of online experiences, especially following Harvard Business Review’s ‘Stop Trying to Delight your Customers’ report where authors suggested that executives “rebuild their organisations around self-service and, in the process…put reducing customer effort firmly at the core, where it belongs”.

But is customer effort really the key behind a winning online customer experience?

At Maru/edr, we work with leading retailers – from Arcadia to Waitrose – on understanding what makes a great digital customer experience for their customers.

We’ve gathered together website exit feedback across twenty-seven sites and over 144,000 consumers to conduct some extensive research-on-research to establish what drives a positive online experience.

Results tell us that there isn’t a silver bullet, but four key factors that online retailers must adhere to deliver a positive digital customer experience.


 Ease and customer effort matter but not as much as some would have you believe.

The notion of ease surfaces prominently as a key factor for online retail experiences. Almost two-thirds of customers (60 percent) who experience an effort-free, frictionless experience on a retail website will be very satisfied overall.

However, there is evidence that this factor operates as a hygiene factor – a good score on ease does not uplift overall satisfaction any more than a good score on other factors. However, a poor rating on ease pulls down overall satisfaction much more than is the case for the other factors, dropping from a high to 82 percent to 55 percent.

online success


Our data supports the balanced view that product remains at the heart of a great customer experience.

From the analysis we can tell that a ‘perfect’ site experience cannot offset a poor rating for product. Overall satisfaction drops from 82 percent to 63 percent when a site’s product is not rated excellent.


In the context of online, service is about much more than customer service. It’s about self-help.

Our analysis identified service as detailed product information, photos, customer reviews and inspiring ideas or gift guides. All these can generate the feeling in customers that the brand is making an effort to help the customer successfully complete their task.

Implicit in this therefore is the notion of personalisation. A customer will only rate highly a site for service if what is offered is helpful to them personally and relevant to their current task.


Fulfilment is certainly an opportunity for competitive advantage given its importance to the customer and is the final of the four factors.

Brands are grasping the consumer need for instant gratification and pushing us nearer to real-time completion of online purchases. Figures from Cowen and Company reveal that 25 percent of the estimated 40 million Amazon Prime members in the US have used the Prime Now delivery service demonstrating the appetite shorter delivery times.


Maru/edr analysed over 144,000 responses to website exit surveys from smartphone, tablet and desktop visitors to twenty-seven of our client’s webchannels, representing the leading online and multichannel players in the UK retail sector. 19 attributes were reduced to four factors using Principal Component extraction and Varimax rotation method with Kaiser normalization.