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Survey of 18,000 Shoppers Makes Good Reading for Online Sellers

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Survey of 18,000 Shoppers Makes Good Reading for Online Sellers

This year’s UPS benchmark survey sheds light on ecommerce and marketplace trends including which factors are most important to online shoppers. The 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper surveyed 18,000 consumers in 15 countries between December 2018 and January 2019 and found that 96% had made an online purchase from a marketplace in the three months prior to taking the survey.

Amazon was the most used marketplace in three of the four geographic regions – the Americas, Europe, and India – and was the number 2 most used marketplace in Asia Pacific.

eBay was number 1 in Asia Pacific, number 2 in Europe, number 3 in the Americas, and number 4 in India.

UPS Pulse found that 90% of customers research items before purchasing them online. The most important factors to research before making a purchase: price (79%), product details (43%), and delivery costs (43%). However, the majority of buyers (95%) expect to see all shipping fees and taxes totaled before they’ll complete the purchase.

Additional noteworthy statistics: 56% of consumers surveyed track the delivery status of their online orders. (Probably not a surprise to online sellers.)

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A whopping 36% of respondents had returned an item in the last three months. The main reason cited for a poor returns experience is delay in getting a refund (25%). Having to pay for a return annoys a significant percentage of consumers (24%), as does a delay in receiving an exchange or a replacement item (21%).

The press release follows below, and you can visit the UPS website to download a copy of the report.

Press release follows:

A glitzy website or a modern app aren’t enough to satisfy today’s savvy online shoppers. They demand upfront transparency on fees, control over the delivery process, a clearly-stated returns policy and loyalty rewards, according to new research from the 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study.

The 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study captured evolving trends, preferences and expectations of online shoppers in 15 countries and regions, including the U.S., Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and, for the first time, India. This latest Pulse examined the generational impact that Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers are having on retail trends, offering retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers intelligence that can help them grow and compete globally.

“For seven years, the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper has spotted emerging e-commerce trends before they became mainstream,” said Kevin Warren, UPS chief marketing officer. “This proprietary research is just one way UPS continues to offer valuable insights that help retailers and shippers make strategic decisions to meet changing global consumer needs.”

Key themes pulled from this year’s study include:

The critical customer experience begins with research. Ninety percent of customers research items before purchasing them online, while younger generations are most likely to be influenced by customer reviews. Ninety-five percent of all buyers expect to see all shipping fees and taxes totaled before they’ll complete the purchase.

Online shoppers want to feel valued and be rewarded. As a result, about one in five (19%) of consumers have more than five loyalty memberships. Reasons given for joining include free shipping, members-only discounts and rewards points.

Meanwhile, online marketplaces remain popular: Ninety six percent of online shoppers have used a marketplace, while 36% of consumers worldwide intend to purchase more on marketplaces in the next 12 months. Worldwide, 48% of consumers buy items impulsively on marketplaces.

Shoppers still want choice and convenience, but they’d rather not pay for it. Respondents like next-day deliveries, but they will consider other options – such as lower fees or incentives – for slower shipping. Millennial shoppers are more likely to choose accelerated delivery options than other age groups. Generally, though, online shoppers show a very low appetite for paying for shipping. That’s why they’ll take various actions to obtain free shipping, including adding items to the cart (36%), choosing the slowest transit time (32%) and searching online for a promo code (32%).

Fifty-six percent of online shoppers track deliveries, with Americans the most likely to be active trackers. (When it comes to offering visibility and tracking solutions UPS offers consumers UPS My Choice and the recently launched UPS My Choice for Business, designed for small and medium-sized businesses.)

Returns remain key to creating return customers. Returning merchandise remains a key demand for online shoppers, with 73% of surveyed consumers responding that the returns experience affected whether they would continue shopping with a retailer. Globally, 36% of online shoppers returned an item in the previous three months.

Globally, about two-out-of-three shoppers (63%) ship returns back to sellers/retailers. This method is the most popular in Europe and Asia-Pacific (APAC), where 67% of shoppers ship their returns. Meanwhile, the main reason cited for a poor returns experience is delay in getting a refund (25%). Having to pay for a return annoys a significant percentage of consumers (24%), as does a delay in receiving an exchange or a replacement item (21%).

For more information or to download the full 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper research report, visit ups.com/pulse.

About the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study

The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study evaluates consumer shopping habits from pre-purchase to post-delivery. The study was conducted in early 2019 and is based on a PwC survey of more than 18,000 online shoppers worldwide. Respondents made at least two online purchase in a typical three-month period.

SOURCE: UPS Press Release

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

3 thoughts on “Survey of 18,000 Shoppers Makes Good Reading for Online Sellers”

  1. I always use to give coupon codes with every purchase, but not a single customer ever returned to use them, so I quit offering them. I realize that my shop wasn’t necessarily the type you’d frequently visit due to its limited availability among a few categories. Now that I will have a much, much larger shop offering a huge variety of items, I guess I should start offering loyalty rewards again.

    As for shipping, while the survey notes that customers want to see the total cost before deciding to buy, I don’t think that translates to expecting free shipping as some would seem to think (like the marketplace execs). I, too, want to see the total cost, but don’t expect to see all the details until I’m checking out. Although, I have to say that it would be nice not having to go that extra step, so I plan to see if I can adjust the code of my shop to include all the details on the listing page.

    I only charge what I am charged by the carrier service because I know high shipping costs can be a deterrent. So I account for all other expenses in the item price because adding even a single dollar can make a huge difference to a shopper, especially if they’re familiar with what shipping costs.

    I’ve noticed this because my Etsy shop offered commercial base rates, while the other shop on a different site only offers retail rates. Despite never having promoted the Etsy shop and my other shop having been established for years longer, offering more than just vintage, my Etsy shop always got the sales. When I reduced item prices on the other shop to make it more competitive with the Etsy shop, it didn’t make much difference.

    I can’t say with any certainty why that is, but my feeling is that if they were comparing the two shops, they could see the difference in shipping, but the reduced item price to account for that difference didn’t make it seem any less likely to them that I was inflating shipping costs. I know that’s how I would view it if I weren’t familiar with USPS pricing.

    So, my take away from the survey is that shipping is important to shoppers, but they know it does cost something, so will look for other ways to save, like coupon codes. Nowhere in the survey does it scream to me that shoppers expect free shipping as some would claim. It’s more about seeing the total cost upfront, which CAN be provided without charging all customers the same zone 7 rates by lumping shipping into the item price.

  2. Online shopping is quickly becoming the normal way to shop. As soon as the majority of people in the world are buying online, all the perks will disappear. Sellers won’t need to entice customers to buy anymore.

  3. “Globally, about two-out-of-three shoppers (63%) ship returns back to sellers/retailers.”

    Most of them expect the merchant to eat the cost of shipping both to & from the “customer”… Yeah, OK…I see how that’s fair… NOT.

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