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Women are left disappointed by their online shopping experience

30TH APRIL 2018


Article first published in Campaign 

Women in the UK are feeling increasingly let down by online shopping experiences which are hard to navigate, not intuitive enough, and poorly designed for mobile browsing, according to a new study published today by Engine, the UK’s largest independent communications network.

The ‘21st Century Woman’ study, which explores the mindset of the modern independent woman and investigates how brands can better connect with her, interviewed UK women about how they live and shop, and what they want from their shopping experiences. It revealed that despite women having more disposable income than ever before, they are increasingly time-poor, with 44% of respondents confessing that they find being a woman difficult and 37% saying that the best word to describe them is “stressed”.

As a result, women are relying on mobile devices to access brands and services, with 98% having shopped online this week and 92% using a smartphone to browse. However, the stark reality is that many are left disappointed by the digital shopping experience. 58% say that too many websites have poor navigation; 53% want them to be more intuitive; and 44% say mobile sites don’t do enough.

The results highlight a huge missed opportunity by brands to engage this highly influential market. 88% of women visit brands’ websites at least once a day, but only 5% of them are buying something – a worrying indication that brands are failing to connect with women emotionally and commercially.

The research also highlighted that brands should not underestimate the value women continue to place on the instore experience. 54% of respondents are influenced by what they see in shops, 26% use their phone to research items in store, and 13% use their phone to purchase while in store, indicating that brands would benefit from joining up the instore and online experiences.

Erminia Blackden, Head of Strategy at Partners Andrew Aldridge, Engine UK, ​said:

'This year’s 21st Century Woman study provides valuable new insight into the mindset and lifestyles of independent, modern women – the world’s largest single group of consumers. This group is the most well-educated, employed and commercially influential group in history.​'

'These women are spending and browsing more on their smartphones than ever before, so if brands want to capitalise on their enormous spending potential, getting the online experience right should be a prerequisite. Some brands are winning at this already - the likes of ASOS and Amazon, for example. But the stark reality is that many are still failing to hit the right note. And in this challenging and fiercely competitive retail market, that’s a dangerous position to be in.'

It is the second year Engine have published the 21st Century Woman study, with last year’s findings showing that women don’t feel represented in advertising, despite them accounting for 85% of all purchases made.

The launch of the 2018 study follows a research project led by Engine’s customer engagement experts Partners Andrews Aldridge. It outlines the key findings and insights from more than 40 hours of qualitative research and over 400 of quantitative.


Erminia Blackden, Head of Strategy, Partners Andrews Aldridge