The top consumer insights this year include a look at free shipping, marketplace preferences and social media shopping.

Digital Commerce 360 released several consumer surveys in conjunction with Bizrate Insights this year, resulting in a detailed look at what consumers are thinking, planning and what they prefer when it comes to ecommerce shopping. From free shipping to what shoppers consider to be important factors when choosing a retailer for holiday shopping, these are the top consumer insights from 2019.

Fulfillment

Many retailers offer a variety of free shipping opportunities throughout the year. Despite this, 31% of online shoppers pay for shipping on half or more of their orders, according to the March 2019 free shipping survey. When consumers aren’t given the option for free shipping, many will abandon their purchase. 68% of the 986 U.S. online shoppers surveyed said that they didn’t make a purchase at least half of the time when a retailer didn’t offer free shipping.

“Free shipping is most important to online shoppers when selecting retailers despite the fact that the dollars involved are small relative to other discounts,” says Lauren Freedman, senior consumer insights analyst with Digital Commerce 360. “It’s psychological and shoppers have a nose for finding free shipping and go to great lengths to get it. Unless the total cost of the order seems reasonable or the product is seen as being ‘must have,’ shoppers are likely to take a pass on making the purchase.”

Free shipping aside, 44% of the 1,188 U.S. online shoppers polled in the June 2019 fulfillment survey said they haven’t placed an order because it wouldn’t arrive on time, and 20% said that they didn’t place an order because the delivery date was unclear.

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When it comes to where consumers have their items shipped, a whopping 77% of the 1,188 U.S. online shoppers surveyed have ordered an item online to be shipped to a store for pickup. Only 13% have shipped to an Amazon locker at an Amazon store or shipped to a package delivery locker other than Amazon.

When considering returns, consumers rated free return shipping as the most important factor, followed distantly by the ease of shipping return and the cost of the return.

“Shoppers simply don’t want to have to pay for anything,” Freedman says. “Also, they have been conditioned by Amazon, Nordstrom and even smaller retailers that online shopping can be a risk-free proposition. Retailers have also made it very easy to return with store-based options in place. Money talks, even if it means a little inconvenience.”

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Marketplaces

Over the past year, 75% of the 1,108 consumers polled in the April 2019 marketplace survey have purchased an item from an Amazon seller, showing the influence of the ecommerce giant. Still, 55% bought something from a non-Amazon U.S. marketplace, and 23% of shoppers surveyed will buy more on marketplaces.

“Thinking about why shoppers choose marketplaces suggests why marketplaces beyond Amazon can expect a strong upside,” Freedman says. “It also speaks to what they need to do and that includes being cognizant of prices, offering free and/or discounted shipping, being competitive with delivery and having a broader selection of product.”

When it comes to why consumers might shop on a marketplace instead of going directly to a retailer (either in person or online), 66% of those surveyed cited better prices on the marketplace and 62% said it was because of the free or discounted shipping.

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Prime Day

Prime Day generated record sales in 2019 at $7.16 billion in online sales at Amazon.com over the two-day period, outperforming every U.S. online shopping day except for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which had $7.43 billion and $9.42 billion respectively in estimated online sales, according to Adobe Analytics. This year, Amazon extended Prime Day to a 48-hour period, 12 more hours than in 2018. Many U.S. retailers ran adjacent sales during this same time period—such as Macy’s Inc., Walmart Inc., Target Corp. and Nordstrom Inc. Despite this, only 39% of the 549 online shoppers polled in the July Amazon Prime Day survey said they didn’t comparison shop for lower prices or similar products on other websites.

Social media and mobile shopping

Social media has been a staple part of U.S. consumers’ online behaviors, but 29% of the 1,105 online shoppers in the March 2019 digital marketing survey still haven’t made a purchase through a social media channel.

“Not everyone is passionate about social media or is a believer in the power of influencers. For those who spend significant time perusing these channels, opportunities abound,” Freeman says. “One can only assume that next generation and younger shoppers who have grown up with these social communities will be consuming in greater numbers.”

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Mobile vs. desktop spending is still split for many consumers. 25% of the 1,110 U.S. shoppers in the April 2019 mobile survey said they purchase 76-100% of their online orders through a mobile device, whereas 27% said they purchase less than 10% of their online orders through a smartphone.

Web design

Desktop design satisfies consumers on a larger basis than mobile. For the 1,035 U.S. online shoppers in the November 2019 web design survey, 66% rated desktop design an 8-10 on a 10 point scale, indicating they were very satisfied with the design of the retailers they have visited in the past 6 months. 51% said they were equally satisfied with mobile design.

“As more sites ensure design renders properly, satisfaction [with mobile] will grow,” Freedman says. “Greater adoption also comes as shoppers become more familiar and comfortable with these devices. Accessibility also plays an important role as on-the-go shoppers learn the tricks of the trade and how to quickly shop on mobile devices.”

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Omnichannel

More consumers are checking for product availability at a nearby bricks-and-mortar store, as 68% of consumers said they would in the next 6 months in the January 2019 omnichannel survey, and 53% are planning to buy online and pick up in store. Touch screens in retailer shops remain unpopular with only 9% of the 1,110 U.S. online shoppers surveyed indicating that they plan to use one of these.

Holiday preferences

When it comes to making a purchase for the holidays, just like marketplace consumers, shoppers are looking for competitive prices and free shipping.

“Saving money has always been one of the top two reasons for shopping online along with convenience,” Freedman says. “The transparency of the web makes finding the right price relatively simple. Free shipping is an incentive to test marketplaces and resonates with shoppers just as it has with retail sites.”

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