By contrast, value and quality in the products or services offered by retailers are deemed the most important criteria to earn loyalty from half of consumers.

Preferential customer service, good after sales service, convenience, and new personalised offerings or products also play important roles in shaping loyalty for up to one-third of consumers.

For more information on this topic, check out our blog posts on why loyal customers are key to online growth and how mobile can be used to drive consumer loyalty.

What makes people switch?

But despite the aforementioned focus on price and shopping around for the best deals, when respondents were asked what would make them swap their regular retailer for a competitor brand the most popular answers were related to service rather than pricing.

In clothing, grocery, financial services, and travel, less than a quarter of respondents picked non-competitive pricing as being most important factor for making them leave their favourite company. 

The other important considerations were experience led: difficult return/refund policies, irresponsive to requests/complaints, bad sales/customer service, and incorrect billing.

Fulfilment and returns are an important part of driving loyalty online, as it’s no coincidence that some of the most successful online retailers offer free returns.

High delivery costs are frequently cited as a key cause of basket abandonment so it’s logical that making customers pay to return items is also going to cause them to shop elsewhere in future.

This is a topic we’ve previously covered on the blog, listing 14 best practice tips for how retailers should handle online returns.