The Internet has become the shopping destination of choice for consumers. But even as the high street struggles to adapt in this increasingly tech-driven world, eCommerce retailers and marketplaces and brands who are now selling online can’t afford to rest on their laurels.
Shoppers will quickly depart from websites if they fail to offer what they are looking for. This is particularly true when it comes to the delivery of their goods, as recent research we carried out amongst over 3500 consumers in the UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Canada, shows. Over a third (36 per cent) would abandon a shopping basket on an eCommerce website if the delivery choices failed to meet their needs. Even more alarmingly, 58 per cent said that they would buy goods from one retailer over another if they provided more delivery options.
Winning and keeping online customers is a constant challenge and no e-tailer can afford to become complacent about building loyalty, delivery value and constantly delighting the audience. What is reassuring is just how popular online shopping has become. Our survey showed that whilst 38 per cent of all our respondents had made online purchases on a weekly basis over the last six months, this percentage rose to a whopping 49 per cent amongst UK consumers. What is more, 9 per cent of the UK respondents said that were making purchases every day.
Amazon sets the standard
Interestingly, while there is strong evidence that brands and manufacturers’ eCommerce websites are growing in popularity and learning from the success of retailers, it is still Amazon that commands the biggest audience with 79 per cent of all our respondents making purchases from the online giant in the last six months.
In fact, it is operations like Amazon and Alibaba that set the benchmark against which consumers evaluate the performance of other eCommerce sites, not least when it comes to the important issue of delivery. Shoppers are positive about the ‘Amazon-like’ delivery experience they are receiving from the competition – and in some instances these players are successfully outperforming Amazon at its own game as these findings illustrate:
- 30 per cent of those shopping with brands/manufacturers encountered personalised delivery options in line with their usual arrangements, compared to 28 per cent of those shopping with Amazon.
- 28 per cent of shoppers making purchases from a brand/ manufacturers’ website had been able to make in-flight changes to their delivery, compared with just 25 per cent of Amazon customers.
But when it comes to assessing the last order and delivery experience with an eCommerce site, shoppers are quite unequivocal, with 53 per cent saying that Amazon was excellent, whilst only 34 per cent said the same for retailers.
Consumers like to track the orders they make online. Amazon has led the way in making this possible for its customers, and 66 per cent of our survey respondents were able to take advantage of it, compared with 63 per cent who made purchases from retailer eCommerce websites and 57 per cent of those who bought goods from brands/manufacturers’ sites.
When it comes to tracking their order, half of shoppers said that they preferred to track it by receiving regular update emails, whilst only 40 per cent opted for push notifications such as texts or an SMS with a hyperlink to a retailer’s website. A further 44 per cent log-on to their account online to keep up to date, and 17 per cent use a dedicated app. Where this scenario changes is amongst distinct age groups - 49 per cent of ‘millennials’ prefer push notifications whereas only 26 per cent of ‘silver surfers’ choose this option.
The ability to track is important, however, because 18 per cent of the consumers we spoke to said that if tracking wasn’t available, they would regard the service as unsatisfactory. Given that 35 per cent of UK shoppers have abandoned online shopping baskets because they were unhappy with the delivery options, this is a vital consideration for all eCommerce retailers.
Using tech to communicate
Email certainly seems to be a popular communication channel for shoppers with almost a third (32 per cent) opting to use it when enquiring about the delivery of the goods they have purchased online, whether to report a missing item, ask a question, or just to track. While UK shoppers also favour email, they lead the field when it comes to using chat bots or live chat to communicate with retailers - 13 per cent selected this option, far ahead of any other country. The trusty phone call was a preference of just 10 per cent of survey respondents and 14 per cent liked mobile apps, but the second most popular channel for communicating was the retailer’s website which found favour with 30 per cent of shoppers.
The pressure to lower carbon emissions, the launch of the new Ultra Low Emission Zone in London and the growing desire from consumers to make their own eco-conscious contributions are set to change the way that eCommerce deliveries are made in the future. A quarter of UK shoppers said that they cared a great deal about the environment when thinking about how they received their online shopping and over half (52 per cent) said that they were conscious of it. Which perhaps accounts for why a growing number of shoppers would consider using drones and robots for their deliveries in the future. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) said this is something they would think about doing in our most recent survey, compared with 19 per cent in 2016.
The desire to be green, however, will battle with the overwhelming desire for convenience and personalisation. A quarter (25 per cent) of all respondents expect eCommerce retailers to know who they are and schedule delivery in line with where they are right now – and not to a fixed postcode. Those with the highest personalised ambitions in this regard are millennials (31 per cent) and those aged 27-38 (31 per cent).
Consumers are very exacting when it comes to their online shopping experience – it’s the reason why the last mile is increasingly focused on enabling an exemplary consumer delivery experience that builds brand reputation and loyalty.
As eCommerce markets mature, so do consumer expectations around what a great eCommerce experience looks like. But, as our research shows, e-tailers are largely rising to the challenge.
What they will now need to do is master new capabilities and innovate to keep up with fast evolving customer expectations. As the battle to win online customer loyalty intensifies around the world, the pressure is on to offer a rich ‘package’ of options that support the tech-savvy, those that are eco-conscious, and those who simply want things as personalised as possible.
Bruce Fair, Chief Revenue Officer, Metapack
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