UPS’ new study provides a wealth of information on everything from mobile shopping and purchasing dynamics to returns and alternative deliver (& drop-off) locations.

A classic UPS truck
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The Internet has made the world into a shopping village, allowing retailers to market and sell their products to customers almost anywhere on the planet. Simultaneously, shoppers are better with tech, and learn to find the best prices from every corner of the globe. There are opportunities for small and large retailers: Europeans value both kinds in their search for the best quality at the best price. Retailers need to evolve to meet the demands of today’s consumers. The UPS online shopper study provides a wealth information for online retailers.

1.1 Global Retail

 7 out of 10 European online shoppers have made purchases outside of their home market, motivated by finding a better price and the search for a specific brand or product. The Internet has done a lot of things – one being the creation of a level playing field.

1.2 Mobile Shopping

More and more online shoppers are using their mobile phone to make purchases, with 43% of all smartphone users having made a purchase on their phone. The smartphone is also used for other shopping-related tasks like looking up store-related information, delivery tracking and searching for products. 72% of those shopping by smartphone are happy with their experiences, with 26% of these saying they plan to shop more using their mobiles. It looks like mobile e-commerce is set to grow.

1.3 Marketplace Influence

Marketplaces have more and more influence on consumers, so it comes as no surprise that almost all online shoppers report having made a marketplace purchase. Retailers need only remember that selling on marketplaces forces them to align with standards of the traditional retailer, which include optimal customer experience and service as well as a flexible returns policy.

1.4 Physical Stores

A whopping 84% of online shoppers agree that shopping in a store is still a large part of the shopping experience. Half the shoppers say that touching and feeling the products is the most important factor in shopping at a traditional bricks-and-mortar store, whilst 50% say they wanted to solve an immediate need.

2.1 Search And Purchasing Dynamics

European shoppers want to find the most information on the greatest number of products as fast as possible – this makes efficiency the driving force behind online search activities. Most of the time, shoppers begin their searches at a marketplace, on average, 32% of the time. Shoppers search and purchase via a single channel 61% of the time. This could be because the online experience is continuously improving.

2.2 Checking Out

Shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate drops are influenced by many factors, but giving shoppers what they need to make an informed, confident decision will keep them buying. 7 of 10 shoppers said that having a free shopping option is important when checking out. A variety of payment methods, along with having a guaranteed delivery date were also important.

2.3 Delivery Needs

Free shipping is key for online shoppers, but retailers need to offer a range of faster, paid shipping options as well. When shipping is free, 60% of shoppers are willing to wait 5 days or longer for their orders.

2.4 Doing Returns Right

For Europeans, online return policies are of great importance, with 64% reviewing the returns policy before they make a purchase online. 75% feel free returns are just as important when selecting an online retailer. Returning the order back to the online shop is one thing, but having the option to return the order back to a stationary shop means 64% of shoppers make an additional purchase during their visit.

2.5 Alternative Delivery & Drop-Off Locations

Shoppers want flexibility and convenience, with 41% of their orders being delivered to an alternative delivery location. 28% take their returns to a carrier authorised retail store.

2.6 Customer Satisfaction & Loyalty

At the forefront of any retailer’s mind should be customer satisfaction. The top 4 factors influencing this are free shipping options (71%), the variety of payment options (62%), guaranteed delivery date (57%) and providing shipping costs early in the process (56%). In addition, 36% of shoppers consider a retailer's loyalty programme as an important factor when searching for products online.

2.7 Innovations In Retail

Looking into the future, physical stores still play an important – but changing – role. Retailers have to combine channels to optimise their success. Consumers are also embracing new technology, with 40% finding the use of virtual reality to visualise furniture and decor in their homes. Over a third of the shoppers are comfortable using a chatbot to fulfil simple shopping tasks like printing return labels.

In Conclusion

What online retailers really need to do is to focus on international customers, think mobile, make marketplace opportunities, work towards seamless omni-channel, focus on the user experience, ensure their checkout works, give shipping choices, meet expectations for returns, reward loyalty and look towards the future. Innovate and invest in the present to make a more lucrative and interesting future. If that wasn’t enough food for thought, check out the full study here.