Two surveys released Tuesday on the behavior of online consumers and its effect on retailers and their shipping partners seem to validate a succinct description of consumer attitudes by consultant Michael Zakkour – “Spoil me or else.”
The surveys, one new and one somewhat established, concluded that online shoppers want to feel valued and appreciated, and that they will go elsewhere if the current experience isn’t meeting their needs. Fast, flexible, and preferably free deliveries are at the core of a positive experience. More than half of 750 consumers and 500 marketers surveyed by project44, a logistics technology company, said that shipping options were as important as product price in their buying decisions.
UPS Inc.’s (NYSE:UPS) seventh annual “Pulse of the Online Shopper” survey, which canvassed 18,000 users in 15 countries and regions – including India for the first time – said that buyers want transparency on fees, control over the delivery process, easy returns and loyalty rewards. About one in five respondents have more than five loyalty memberships, according to the UPS survey.
Online users don’t expect to pay for any of this. About 36 percent will add more items to their carts in order to exceed the dollar threshold that qualifies for free shipping, the UPS study said.
According to the project44 survey, 74 percent of consumers said a poor delivery experience, namely a package not delivered when expected, negatively impacts their impression of the company. More than 70 percent said on-demand delivery apps are changing their expectations on how the delivery experience should be executed.
In an interesting divergence, 65 percent of marketers said good customer service was a main factor in purchasing decisions, while only one-quarter of consumers felt that way, according to the project44 survey. Based on this finding, consumers appear willing to tolerate or overlook subpar customer service as long as their order is processed and delivered as they expected.
In a sign that off-work attitudes toward the online ordering experience are extending into the workplace, 94 percent of respondents who purchase for their company said they expect the same level of focus on customer satisfaction as when they make personal purchases, according to the project44 survey.
A simple and hassle-free returns process is a key determinant in keeping customers. According to the UPS survey, 73 percent said the quality of the returns experience influenced their decision to continue doing business with a retailer. About a quarter of respondents said delays in getting a refund was the main reason cited for a poor returns experience. That was closely followed by the requirement to pay for refunds, according to the survey.
As may have been expected, deliveries are becoming recognized as the make-or-break part of the entire experience. About 85 percent of marketers said that deliveries are “moderate or “very important” parts of their brand success, the project44 survey found. About 56 percent of marketers said that transportation companies are among the top three players in providing a positive customer experience, while 47 percent felt that way about supply chain and shipping departments, according to the survey.
Consumers are paying more attention as well. According to the UPS survey, 56 percent polled track the status of their deliveries.