The winners in the “extremely competitive battleground” of online retailing will be those that are reliable and convenient rather than purely fast and cheap, new hard-hitting research on the shopping channel has concluded.

The research by YouGov for JDA Software Group and Centiro among 2,000 UK consumers found 47% had experience problems with online orders in the past year.

Some 71% said they would be likely to switch to an alternative retailer because of one poor shopping experience.

Sixty-three percent said the ease of being able to return items influenced whom they shopped online with and only 18% of respondents said delivery speed was important to them.

The research found that 47% of those who had used click & collect services in the past year had encountered issues that potentially damaged their customer experience, up from 32% last year – highlighting potential growing pains for retailers as they have attempted to scale their click & collect operations.

The most commonly cited problems cited were long waiting times because of lack of staff (32%) followed by staff who were unable to locate items 30%.

“Online retail continues to be an extremely competitive battleground. The winners will be those retailers that can offer a reliable and convenient fulfilment service to consumers, rather than simply focusing on speed and price,” said JDA retail strategy director Jason Shorrock.

“At the same time, escalating costs and ever-increasing competition is putting pressure on retailers’ already squeezed margins. Retailers must think hard about the configuration of their supply chains, and will need to become much smarter about how they use their key assets of staff, stores and inventory to fulfil customer requests in an intelligent way.”

He added that consumers had undoubtedly thrown down the gauntlet to retailers and it was now up to them to meet this challenge profitably.