How sport and leisure brands can beat ecommerce pain-points

leisure brands ecommerce pain points

Written by Ryan Grimshaw

Ryan Grimshaw is Head of Brand and Marketing for Topodium Group. Specialising in digital marketing, communications and brand development, Ryan has worked in marketing for over 7 years. He heads up the Topodium Marketing division and leads a talented team of marketers in the UK, USA and South Africa.

September 28, 2020

We take a deep dive into online purchasing and take a look at how sport and leisure brands can beat ecommerce pain-points. Ryan Grimshaw, Head of Brand and Marketing for Topodium Group, addresses some of the most prominent online customer problems.

For many sport and leisure brands, customers are the centre of their mission, vision and values. A customer-centric approach to relationship building, trust and loyalty is fundamental to all industries, and even more so when your sector is built on people and positive human engagement.

Ensuring your business conducts itself in an efficient, helpful, professional, dependable and straightforward manner should be a given for many sport and leisure business owners. Delivering and sustaining a positive customer experience in your online sport and leisure ecommerce activity is no different.

In 10 years’ time we’re expected to see a 53% rise in retail sales according to a report by Retail Economics.

In 2019, 19% of retail sales were made online. With the likes of our younger generation growing up with the internet, now half of the UK’s adult population, and the impact of Covid-19 on our physical high streets and new online behaviours, those figures are only bound to skyrocket.

If your customers are making the move to digital, or have been digital natives for a while, it’s likely that their purchasing behaviour is now exclusively online.

Covid-19 has expedited this change and as a result we’ve seen a huge increase in online shopping. And, with this increased online shopping we’ve also witnessed the rise of online ecommerce pain-points.

In the Covid-19 and Consumer Report from Astound Commerce, research of over 1,000 consumers found that shoppers are shifting significantly to online, and expectations of ecommence experiences are accelerating at new speeds.

Econsultancy found that In the lead up to Christmas, 58% of UK consumers say they’re shopping more online than they did before Covid-19.

Sport and leisure brands will need to work on their online retail and ecommerce strategy, working with the likes of live customer data and accurate customer experience mapping to quickly identify ecommerce pain-points and prevent shopper frustrations.

What are ecommerce pain-points?

Those shopper problems or frustrations are better known as customer pain-points. These pain-points can be both real or perceived, and can effect your customers at any place in the ecommerce experience. It’s crucial you’re aware of these problems as they can quickly become the reason why your customers don’t convert.

Understanding your customers’ pain-points is not only helpful to solving issues and making sure your customers are happy, it also means you can rethink some of these issues as opportunities.

Inconvenient user experiences can be varied and sometimes unique to your business or ecommerce set-up, which sometimes makes them tricky to spot. These instances could be caused from advances in technology or platform, to increased expectations placed on website performance (such as speed and interactivity), to convenience and delivery.

As technology can be custom to your own ecommerce structure, I’ll focus on some of the more common user experience issues and ecommerce pain-points.

5 common ecommerce pain-points

  1. Frictionless Checkout
  2. Customer Support
  3. Pricing
  4. On-Demand Availability
  5. Multichannel

Frictionless Checkout

The ultimate aim is to engineer a frictionless customer experience, particularly right now when many users will be feeling anxious, cautious and uncertain. There’s no need to add to those feelings by making your customers navigate a poor user journey, or jump through hurdle after hurdle of unnecessary steps.

We see this most commonly take place in the checkout process. The checkout process can be a minefield for customer pain-points. From customers having to endure long form-fills and having to enter too many required fields, to an unresponsive interface and broken flows – these are all instant turn offs for consumers.

As I’m frequently making online purchases on-the-go, I often look for the simplest method with the least user effort. Another important factor for me personally is finding an ecommerce store that enables the most secure ways of paying, such as Paypal and Apple Pay. Rarely anyone has the time to stop and enter every line of their card details, nor do we want to if we are connected to open WiFi and on the move!”

Amelia McDougall, Marketer at Topodium Group

Another consideration is when customers wish to amend or modify their booking or order. We sometimes see users being required to jump-ship and exit the purchase flow, or worst case, having to abandon their online activity completely and directly contact support.

It’s not only about the checkout processes; it’s also how we communicate the process and guide users through the flow, and sometimes subtly reminding customers of how you’re saving them time, money or reduced stress with a quick, easy, frictionless process. Think about using connective phrasing which supports the customer, such as ‘at-a-glance guides’, ‘centralised’, and ‘we, you, together’.

A truly effortless and convenient ecommerce service can be another selling point for your sport or leisure brand, and a good experience promotes positive brand affinity.

Customer Support

It’s no surprise that more than half of companies report their most critical customer experience issue is “providing a seamless experience across multiple channels.” Having instant access to customer support is something which modern consumers expect.

It’s a given that your social media channels, email, phone and in-person channels will play a role in customer support for your ecommerce platform. However, users are finding a discord between their shopping experience and the availability of customer support.

If your ecommerce shop is available 24/7 then you should account for customer support to match your operating hours. Simply having your social media intern take on the responsibility of managing your customer support during a 9-to-5 work day won’t cut it any more.

As ecommerce continues to develop and consumer trends and habits change, sport and leisure brands should consider how they’re meeting increasing demands and expectations of their customer. By offering a broad range of customer service channels, from live chat and email, to calls and social media, you’re providing people with a variety of methods to reach out if they require.

Utilising technology such as chatbots can significantly reduce your costs and improve your overall customer experience. Bear in mind, more digitally-savvy customers sometimes prefer to help themselves. By providing detailed FAQ sections, common queries, or self-help articles and step-by-step guides, you’re empowering your more independent customers to make their lives even easier.


I’m sure you’ve done all your research and market analysis on pricing your products and services – that’s a given, right?

In this changing world your pricing should be as dynamic as possible. Operating on a dynamic pricing principle with real time pricing strategies will enable you to make the most of changes in your sector or niche. This means you can quickly pivot to maximise sales and influence consumer choice.

That said, it’s essential that you are as upfront as possible with your costs from the outset. Avoid any sneaky, unclear or hidden costs at the end of the purchase process. For example, don’t hold delivery or payment fees until the end of the purchase flow – state them clearly from the start.

If you’re surprising your customers at every turn with additional fees and unforeseen costs, they’ll abandon cart, cancel their membership, postpone their service, and find another venue or business offering a better option… AKA your competitor.

It’s also worth bearing in mind the adaptability of changes to your services and memberships, particularly in light of Covid-19. Consider if your business is able to provide a pause in membership fees, flexible payment terms, or the option for customers to continue supporting your business with e-vouchers and online donations.

On-Demand Availability

If you sell it, then make sure you know exactly what is available for purchase.

That means complete oversight of how much inventory or stock is available for a certain product, and communicating that to customers.

Work towards a joined up internal and external approach to product availability; a single, aggregated, real-time view of inventory. It may be that your supply chain has been disrupted or is likely to see disturbance. If that’s the case, communicate that clearly to your customers so they know what to expect.

I would recommend availability is worked in synchronisation with your content marketing. When we think about consumers we must remember that they are at different stages in their purchase decision-making.

Intent is key. Perhaps online shoppers are going to your ecommerce store to seek information and sit in the research stage. Alternatively, they may be looking to make a purchase immediately. In both cases, it’s essential that availability is clear and up-to-date to aid consumers intent at each stage of their shopping experience.

Once you have availability in place, underpinned by great content, then you can focus on search engine optimisation, ratings and reviews, and other key influencers in the decision making process.


As I mentioned earlier in this post, sometimes ecommerce pain-points can highlight new opportunities.

Today’s digital-savvy customers are likely to be browsing social media, checking out your customer reviews and user generated content, as they research into your product or service offering. Being able to purchase, or at least access your store, right from their social feed could be the difference between a sale or a miss.

Ensure you set up your Facebook shop and Instagram shop. This guide from Facebook explains how to set up your shop for success.

Once you have your shop set up, you can create catalogues and even tag your Instagram posts with your products which means customers can see the price and click through to purchase as they scroll and browse.

Multichannel also refers to devices. Unresponsive checkout processes and ecommerce stores that are not optimised for mobile experience are a big turn off for consumers. Depending on the type of your business, it’s likely that over half of your online traffic will be from mobile, so having a website that doesn’t meet your user demand is a disaster just waiting to happen. Your business could take a big hit if your website isn’t updated properly.

Actionable Takeaway

Now that I’ve overviewed a few of the most common ecommerce pain-points faced by digital consumers, let’s look at some clear, straightforward advice that you can immediately action to address them.

  • Map out your checkout process. Decide if you’re making your customers jump through digital hoops, or is your purchase journey intuitive and logical?

  • Make your site speed a key improvement metric. Check the health of your website’s speed on a regular basis and use tools, such as Google Lighthouse, to improve it. With attention span at an all time low you’ll have seconds to ensure your content loads, and even less on mobile. 53% of customers abandon a site that takes over 3 seconds to load… the clocks ticking!

  • Provide users with FAQs or a Customer Help Centre. In your purchase process, or even within the checkout pages, you may want to consider adding links to your FAQs or a knowledge base of useful information. Keep your FAQs and information up to date and provide a contact number, support email, or live chat so your customers can connect with your team if necessary.

  • Manage availability and display it to your users. Software that helps you manage your inventory and automatically notifies customers on the front-end of your ecommerce site will help increase conversions. Improving your customer communications and managing their expectations will solve a lot of issues before they even arise. That communication may even be a simple as deploying tags such as ‘sessions available’, ‘sessions limited’ and ‘sessions sold out’.

  • Implement user-flow tracking to get useful feedback. Utilising software such as Hotjar can really help you understand your user flow. With heatmap tracking and live-recordings of the users journey, it can become quickly obvious where you need to make changes to the user experience on your ecommerce site. You can also switch on a short pop-up survey to ask for qualitative feedback from your customers.

The silver-lining with ecommerce pain-points is that a lot of these issues can be easily addressed quickly and efficiently, if you know how. A lot of business owners put these actions on the back-burner, with some problems appearing seemingly small and others overly complex.

Well, it’s time to take action! Don’t let your ecommerce pain-points snowball into much larger issues. If you require any help or guidance with your digital transformation or ecommerce performance, then as always, we’re here for the journey.

The article was written by Ryan Grimshaw, Head of Brand and Marketing for Topodium Group.

You May Also Like…