Merchants need to provide fast deliveries and offer shoppers more fulfillment options.

A consumer’s decision to click the Buy button on an ecommerce site or app all too often comes down to a retailer’s logistics operations. After all, 44% of online shoppers have abandoned an online shopping cart because the item they were seeking to purchase wouldn’t arrive on time, according to a June Internet Retailer/Bizrate Insights survey that examined online shoppers’ shipping experiences and preferences.

Consumers want certainty, which is why 20% of online shoppers also have abandoned an order because the delivery date was unclear. The confidence that their item will arrive when they want it helps explain why 28% of shoppers were willing to pay for expedited shipping to get a product at the desired time. The desire for certainty also might explain why 30% of online shoppers have ordered items for same-day delivery from an ecommerce site and 21% have done so from a store.

These findings suggest that online retailers need to be precise in their delivery times. And, amid an increasingly competitive retail ecosystem, they also have to move toward faster deliveries and offer more options. This will allow them to better compete with Amazon and store-based retailers like Target Corp, Best Buy Co. Inc. and The Home Depot Inc., which offer same-day delivery.

Tracking online orders

Once they place orders online, a large share of shoppers are vigilant about tracking their packages. That puts the onus on retailers to regularly communicate with shoppers throughout the shipping process as a lack of information and late deliveries make shoppers more likely to complain or ask for information about their order.

A look at the survey findings is insightful:

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  • 88% of online shoppers have tracked their order status online.
  • 34% have used an app to monitor their online order status.
  • 17% have contacted a retailer’s customer service agent about an order’s delivery status, while 13% contacted the package carrier.
  • 18% did not receive tracking information for their online orders.
  • 9% contacted a retailer’s customer service agent to change their order.

Meeting and exceeding expectations should be every retailer’s goal. Shoppers expect packages will be delivered to the right location 100% of the time. But retailers do not always meet expectations when it comes to having orders delivered to designated locations. When delivery issues arise, online shoppers must receive alerts from both carriers and retailers. Those types of messages can help resolve potential issues; 60% of online shoppers were satisfied with alerts received from carriers and retailers about their order status.

Looking ahead

Smartphones will increasingly be crucial to consumers’ online and offline behaviors, the survey results found.

For example, online shoppers plan to check product availability and arrange for in-store pickup more in the next six months than they have in the past, thanks in part to their mobile devices. 54% of online shoppers Internet Retailer surveyed plan to check product availability more at nearby stores, and 44% expect to use their mobile devices for efficiency purposes.

Omnichannel capabilities must be in place to support online shoppers’ needs. 43% of online shoppers will order online for pickup in a store more often than they have in the past, and 33% will use their mobile devices to expedite the process.

Retailers must evaluate same-day logistics and associated costs, defining a strategy to address heightened consumer demands. Online survey respondents reveal that 2% will order more for same-day delivery from a website, while 16% will order more from a physical store.

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Returns can FRUSTRATE SHOPPERS

88% of shoppers return less than 10% of all products they purchase in a year. One of the reasons for this low rate is that retailers have employed a number of tools, such as 360-degree product views, to foster conversion and reduce return rates. Reviews also provide valuable information that can help shoppers make better choices.

Shoppers prefer to spend little or no money to return products. And they want the returns process to be simple. When we asked shoppers to rank the most important elements they consider when returning an order, free shipping ranked at the top. Ease of shipping a product back to the retailer placed second among online shoppers, while the cost of returns was a close third.

Consumers’ top frustrations when they attempt to return products purchased
online are money-related:

  • 61% of online shoppers were angry at a retailer that required them to pay for return shipping.
  • 56% of online shoppers were irritated by a merchant’s restocking fees.
  • 53% of online shoppers disliked high costs associated with shipping returns.

Roughly 33% of online shoppers are frustrated with the inability to reach a customer service representative, the time it takes to credit the order, poor communication during the process and/or restrictive return policies.

These survey results suggest retailers should keep return fees to a minimum. Retailers may even want to test absorbing return shipping fees for shoppers.

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From a customer service standpoint, customer service representatives should be available and well-trained. Of course, retailers should credit returns in quickly and proactively communicate to ensure a positive shopping experience.

Why shoppers return online purchases

When retailers develop their return policies, they should keep in mind the reasons that lead a shopper to return their purchase. A sizing issue was the top reason, at 55%, for why consumers returned a purchase. The product’s quality was second, at 53%, followed by a damaged item, at 45%, and the item “didn’t work for me” or “didn’t look good on me,” at 37%. (Respondents could select more than one response.)

Given these dynamics, sellers must ensure they use high-quality images that accurately depict their products, along with sizing tools that can help aid their selection process and mitigate returns. From a fulfillment perspective, they also need to have quality control procedures in place to avoid damages upon arrival.

[email protected] | @etailingroup

 

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