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Consumers Seek More Flexibility From Online Retailers

Retailers must simplify ecommerce platforms.
Jun 13, 2014 10:45 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... U.S. retailers must develop ecommerce platforms that make the purchasing process simple and one that is seamlessly integrated with physical store, while offering free shipping and returns, according to the third annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Survey by comScore Inc. and UPS.

Earlier this year, comScore asked 5,800 consumers about their online shopping experiences and respondents said they wanted more options in searching for items, checking out, enhanced security and alternate delivery locations. The study also revealed, that at least for now, U.S. consumers do prefer to evaluate and purchase products through a desktop or laptop rather than a mobile device.

The study revealed that smartphones are playing an increasingly important role  in the online experience; however, the mobile user interface from retailers, on average, is behind the times and must catch up before winning over consumers. Those online shoppers who use multiple devices said they would prefer to shop on a desktop or laptop computer because larger and clearer images help them comparison shop. 

While justifying return on investment for  headcount and marketing expense related to social media engagement is in its infancy, comScore confirmed that   indeed social media activity impacts purchasing decisions for  one-third of all shoppers and about one-half of millennials.  Consumers  are also likely to share their opinions on products and brands across social media with satisfied shoppers who share their thoughts being most likely to do so on Facebook (86 percent),  followed by Twitter (34 percent), Google+ (23 percent), Pinterest (21 percent) and Instagram (19 percent).

It is also imperative that retailers develop their omnichannel platform to drive customer loyalty as the savvy shopper is demanding cross-channel convenience. The study found that  40 percent of retail purchases were made crossing channels, whether searching in store and purchasing online or vice versa. “The retailers who embrace the various channels and options that customers favor will deliver a positive customer experience and ultimately drive sales and brand loyalty,” said Susan Engleson, the senior director at comScore.

As free shipping continues to drive purchasing decisions, comScore noted that 58 percent of shoppers actually added items to their shopping carts just to qualify for free shipping and 83 percent of shoppers were willing to wait an additional two days for delivery as long as the fees were waived.  More than 50 percent of online shoppers said they want to see the total purchase cost early on in the checkout process, and the majority of shoppers prefer seeing the expected arrival date for the order rather than the number of days it will take to arrive.

Additionally, only 43 percent of shoppers were satisfied with the flexibility of the retailer's shipping process. While 74 percent prefer home delivery,  there is a growing trend for alternate delivery options, according to UPS. Shoppers want more options, including the ability to change delivery days or rerouting packages to an alternative address.  “Consumers demand more from their package delivery experience, and today’s online shopper expects us to respond by creating solutions convenient for them. This is why we’ve created UPS My Choice® and the UPS Access Point™ Network,” said Derrick Johnson, UPS's  vice president of global segments.

Similarly, shoppers expect greater ease with returns as 82 percent said that they would complete an online purchase if they could return the item to a store or ship the item back to the retailer for free.  The majority of shoppers want retailers to make it easy for them to return a purchase by including a label in the box, the study noted.



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Tags: comScore, Consumer Spending, ecommerce, Jeff Miller, mobile, retail, shipping, ups
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