Shoppers increasingly expect their online orders will arrive quickly, which puts pressure on retailers to come through.

The Online shopper has no interest in waiting. From shipping times to delivery and even tracking the order, “now” is the operative mindset of the shopper, according to the results of a recent survey of 1,105 shoppers that The E-tailing Group and Internet Retailer ran through BizRate Insights.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that shipping and delivery transparency is essential among “need to know” online shoppers. 58% of survey respondents didn’t place an order when delivery information was not forthcoming or the time to receive was too long.

Consumers’ delivery expectations continue to accelerate. One reason is clear: Amazon.com Inc. and others are on a relentless push to improve shipping times. Those efforts have made speed a competitive necessity in today’s digital climate. Shoppers won’t wait for a delivery and will
sometimes pay to expedite orders based on circumstances. 43% indicated they had paid for expedited shipping to ensure the delivery times they needed could be met.

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Lauren Freedman, president, The E-tailing Group

Same-day shipping will continue to be a differentiator among retailers and the physical store will likely assume a greater role in those efforts. One in three shoppers placed orders for same-day delivery from stores and websites.

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At the same time, shoppers expect the option of an in-store pickup; 54% have shipped products to a physical store for pickup and 36% indicated they plan to do more of this moving forward.

 

Omnichannel growth forges ahead

Shoppers are also increasingly looking for their mobile devices to help them access retailers’
omnichannel offerings. Convenience is core to shopping and product availability is a confidence builder prior to making a trip to the store.

Here are some key omnichannel findings from our survey:

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  • Two in three shoppers plan to increase their use of locating products at stores
    in the next six months.
  • Four in 10 shoppers plan to increase their use of a mobile device to find a product
    in a store.
  • 36% of shoppers plan to order online for in-store pickup more often and 32% will
    do so more frequently via a mobile device.

Vigilance in tracking orders prevails

Shoppers’ expectations are set by the initial information that sellers provide.
Those expectations must be met. Otherwise, they’ll likely engage with customer service agents. That’s why retailers looking to engender trust need to regularly communicate with customers while orders are en route. After all, shoppers are vigilant in tracking their orders prior to delivery.
Even so, half of all shoppers received no tracking information on orders placed. Almost half, 48%, contacted the retailer prior to delivery, while 40% contacted the carrier to get delivery status. Mobile facilitates even more aggressive tracking behavior where six in 10 shoppers used an app to track package delivery.

Despite all the talk about same-day delivery, many retailers continue to struggle with delivery fundamentals. One in three shoppers didn’t receive an online order and seven in 10 shoppers received their package after the expected delivery date.

Shoppers have moved beyond conventional norms when it comes to package delivery. They expect package delivery every day of the week and Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service are leading the charge. Given these logistical enhancements, it’s not surprising to see that eight in 10 shoppers had a package delivered over the weekend. Shoppers will continue to grow comfortable with delivery via companies beyond traditional package carriers as 40% of shoppers had a package delivered by a delivery service or ride-sharing company.

Satisfaction levels warrant retailer attention

It’s no longer good enough for an online retailer’s customers to be “satisfied,” which is why we focused on shoppers who reported being highly satisfied with a series of delivery elements. From getting orders to the right locations to being sensitive to smart packaging along with providing alerts relative to order status, there is certainly room for improvement.

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Here are some key delivery findings from our survey:

  • Only two in three shoppers are highly satisfied with delivery to designated locations.
  • Only one in two shoppers are highly satisfied that orders are shipped in appropriate packaging.
  • Only one in two shoppers are highly satisfied with alerts received from carriers and retailers about order status.

Return satisfaction is an opportunity for growth from policies to processing. Though 80% of shoppers return 5% or less of the products they purchase online, retailers need to be vigilant in serving up transparent return policies. Only four in 10 shoppers report being highly satisfied with online retailers’ return policies and their accessibility. Streamlining the return process in all channels is critical to shopper satisfaction especially given that just one in three shoppers are satisfied with shipping back products or returning them in a store.

Shoppers dislike spending money on returns suggesting that retailers must be cognizant of the fees associated with returning products purchased online. Free return shipping tops the list of important elements of the return experience and is almost universal among online shoppers. Retailers looking to ensure returns are convenient should have clear and accessible return policies, timely refunds and strong communication along with a label in the box. All of those factors make it more desirable for shoppers to do business with a retailer.

“Now” is the language spoken among digital shoppers. A nod to faster and quicker pervades their mindset and must be top-of-mind among retailers as they try to meet and exceed the expectations of the evolved customer.

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