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Ecommerce Could Be Suffering Due To Stress

11 March 2010 - 09:20 by Sarah Collinson

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Stressed out while trying to do some safe shopping online? You are not the only one, it seems. Web stress is apparently quite a common problem. It occurs when consumers looking to make purchases online are confronted with badly designed websites, leading to confusion and agitation as they try to wrestle with and navigate a poorly conceived site.

The existence of so-called web stress has been revealed by a new piece of research by independent IT management software company CA, which teamed up with customer experience consultancy Foviance to explore just how web stress may affect consumers online and thus, eCommerce.

This was not just any old research; this was neurological research, with each of the thirteen volunteers wired up to state of the art Electroencephalography equipment. Using this technology, the volunteers' brain activity was monitored as they surfed retail websites. Each volunteer was asked to complete certain tasks online, such as buying a new laptop PC, with their brain activity recorded during this time, while a behavioural analysis was also undertaken.

The result? Well, judging by their facial muscle agitation, the participants in the study were found to be irritated by websites that presented a poor consumer experience. The data shows that they had to concentrate up to 50% harder whilst engaged in safe shopping online on these sites.

The main areas of concern centred upon the process of searching for items and the point at which the volunteers had to take them to the checkout. Web stress was found to be significantly enhanced when the survey participants reached these points.

The research suggests that should an online retailer's site not be up to scratch at these crucial points in the buying process, the consumer will simply give up and fail to complete their intended purchase. In practice, they may instead head off to make the purchase at a rival's site.