These Digital Errors May Have Cost Retailers More Than $60 Million in Holiday Sales

When it comes to shopping online, user experience is crucial — and even one mistake can be costly for a retailer.

During the holiday season, creating a seamless experience is even more essential, since errors can drive shoppers into the waiting arms of competitors, and potentially drive them away for good.

A new report from software testing company Applause found that, among 52 top global retailers, users encountered more than 3,000 bugs between Black Friday and December 2018. More than half of these issues came up during the purchasing process, either on a product page, user account or shopping cart. (One tester, for instance, was unable to apply a new credit card to an account after the existing card expired.)

While some of the bugs encountered didn’t have a direct impact on conversion — such as broken links and mislabeled products — the researchers found dozens of more serious issues that either delayed or blocked a customer’s planned purchase. Problems like payment and checkout errors could impede a purchase for as much as 14 days, according to the study, while confusing or malfunctioning search features added at least three seconds to the purchase process.

Even a short delay can irritate impatient customers, though: a 2017 study by digital services provider Akamai found that more than half of mobile users will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load, and even a two-second delay can increase a website’s bounce rate by 103 percent.

Just 65 of the most severe bugs that were in production over the holiday season cost retailers more than $60 million in lost sales, Applause found, or an average of $915,240 per bug.

“These results show retailers aren’t doing enough to meet customer expectations, especially during key junctures of the holiday season,” said Kristin Simonini, vice president of product at Applause. “We see this as a global problem. Retailers aren’t designing digital experiences with customers in mind and the overall quality of these experiences is lacking. Learning from these mistakes and putting more emphasis on testing will help retailers prepare for peak periods this year.”

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