Choices and Convenience key for online retail

By Freddie Pierce
Customers want more choices when it comes to shopping online, more control over when their purchases will be delivered and a convenient returns process...

Customers want more choices when it comes to shopping online, more control over when their purchases will be delivered and a convenient returns process, according to a report by comScore and UPS.

The customer experience study, named UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper, analysed e-commerce preferences including mobile trends, social media impact and the integrated buying experience of shopping in physical stores and online - also known as omnichannel retailing.

Earlier this year, comScore asked 3,000 consumers which factors led them to shop more on their computers, smartphones or tablets; to abandon shopping their carts, and to recommend retailers to friends.

Findings show that online buyers are using social media to shop for the best deals and expect more shipping options from e-tailers, where 44 percent said they would more likely shop with a retailer if they could buy online and pick up the item in the store and 62 percent want the ability to buy online and return items to a store.

Mobile is key

Mobile and social channels continue to change the way consumers shop - 46 percent said they are less likely to comparison shop when using a retailer's mobile app, and 47 percent said they want a retailer to send a coupon to their smartphone when they are in-store or nearby. Not surprisingly, 84 percent of online shoppers use at least one social media site. Among Facebook users - the most popular channel - 60 percent "like" a brand to receive an incentive or promotion.

"Consumers have a growing number of digital touch points, with more ways to stay connected with their favorite online retailers through every phase of the shopping, buying and fulfillment process," said Susan Engleson, comScore senior director. "What will set apart one retailer from another in a competitive marketplace is how well they meet the rapidly evolving needs and expectations of customers."

Channels, Choices and Convenience

Shoppers expect more shipping options from online retailers, but 78 percent continue to choose the least expensive option. To qualify for free shipping, three out of four shoppers have added items to their carts. After free shipping, the ability to review estimated shipping costs and delivery times before checkout are most important. Almost all (97%) of those surveyed said tracking a purchase is essential or nice to have.

Only 44 percent of consumers are currently satisfied with their ability to reroute a package. Retailers supporting changes while orders are in transit have a competitive advantage. "As consumers move more of their shopping online and gain exposure to a variety of purchasing experiences, their expectations for retailers continues to grow," said Alan Gershenhorn, UPS's chief sales and marketing officer. "Now consumers can shop from anywhere, at any time and are looking for online retailers to have an integrated and robust set of options as the customer experience no longer ends at checkout. Whether large or small, UPS helps retailers develop innovative consumer-driven global supply chain management strategies."

Hassle-Free Returns

According to the report, more consumers are returning online purchases. Last year's Customer Experience Study showed 63 percent of consumers reviewed a retailer's return policy before making a purchase. This year it's 66 percent. A hassle-free returns policy can make the difference in driving return customers - 82 percent of consumers said they would complete the purchase if they could return the item to a store or have free return shipping; 67 percent said they would shop more with that retailer and 64 percent would recommend the retailer to a friend.


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