6 Little Secrets About Online Shopping That Retailers Don’t Want Their Competitors To Know

Fact: Online retail spending in the US reached $186 billion in 2012. Fact: By 2015, International eCommerce spending is projected to hit $1.4 trillion. Question: What do these statistics mean for the future of online shopping, especially regarding what customers want and how retailers are going to fulfill them? Reference: A survey of more than 3,000 US online shoppers conducted by comScore for UPS last February, "UPS Pulse Of The Online Shopper," was designed to find out the following:

• What consumers want and expect in the online checkout and shipping experience;

• How important are return policies to online shoppers;

• How mobile and social media are shaping the online shopping experience;

• What consumers expect from retailers regarding omnichannel shopping experiences.

Respondents to the survey qualified by making at least two online purchases in a typical 3-month period. (Interestingly, 41% indicated they made 2 to 3 online purchases; 33% made 4 to 6 purchases and 27% made 7 or more purchases in a typical 3-month period).

The survey revealed that as eCommerce spending increases, so do the expectations of online shoppers: Here are some of the key factors that drive consumers' shopping habits, purchasing behaviors, and wishes.

Online Customers Want:

1. …Retailers to communicate clearly what to expect re package delivery timing. (When customers know the expected delivery date of the order, they are willing to wait an average of one week for their order to arrive).

2. …To know costs and shipping charges earlier in the process. Online shoppers want this information sooner in the process so they can decide whether they're going to abandon the site, continue with the purchase, compare against competitors, etc.

3. …Free or discounted shipping, plus flexible shipping options. Wanting or expecting free or discounted shipping is mentioned repeatedly by the survey participants. Other options sought include choice in delivery date and re-routing of packages; also the ability to pick up orders at convenient locations such as retail stores.

4. …Improved returns process. The number of people that have returned a package in 2013 grew from 2012 -- as has the number of consumers that view a retailer's returns policy before or after purchases. Returns are mentioned often by online shoppers as important to their choices and decision-making.

5. …Seamless omnichannel experiences. Customers would like to shop online, but return items to a store; customers say they like receipt of coupon offers via smartphone when consumers are in close proximity to the store; and they also would like the ability to shop online and pick up in store.

6. …Retailers to use mobile and social media effectively. Of the shoppers surveyed, 59% had a smartphone and 40% owned a tablet. Among those who own a tablet, 59% make purchases on the tablet in a typical three-month period, compared to 49% of smartphone owners. Seven percent of the shoppers surveyed make all of their digital purchases via mobile devices, i.e. don't use PCs at all.

Bottom Line For Your Bottom Line:

Respondents, told to rank their answers from 1 to 7, indicated that the following aspects would drive their likelihood to shop at -- and complete a sale with -- a retailer online:

• The ability to buy online and then make returns at the store. (62%)

• The push of a coupon/promotion to my smartphone at the right time. (47%)

• The ability to buy online and pick up in store. (44%)

• The availability of applications designed specifically for tablets. (41%)

• The option to conduct one-click check-out online. (40%)

• The ability to complete a purchase in store using mobile device. (37%)

• The availability of a mobile application for a smartphone. (36%)

• The availability of an in-store kiosk to browse products. (25%)

• The ability to start a purchase online and then complete the purchase in store. (23%)

• The ability to make an appointment for an in-store consult after researching online. (18%)  


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Gilon Miller, CMO

About Author

Gilon is a seasoned marketing, sales and business development executive with over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet business. He is the Founder and CEO of GuruShots. Previously, Gilon was the CMO of Upstream Commerce, VP of Marketing at iMDsoft and Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.
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