Retailers everywhere constantly ask themselves the question, “What makes our customers tick?” This question is quickly followed by, “What makes the consumers we want to be our customers tick?” These questions are difficult to answer, and can take an immense amount of resources to solve. At Newgistics, we liken this work to mapping consumer DNA. And we’ve decoded the shipping gene for you. Newgistics recently sponsored an independent survey of consumers to study their shopping habits. Out-of-store shopping—particularly e-commerce—is booming; in fact, just this week Deloitte estimated that shopping online, or via mobile device or catalog will grow 15-17% this year. This comes on the heels of several consecutive years of very strong growth—e-commerce in particular had a banner year in 2011. Not only did online spending have its biggest day in history on Cyber Monday, but fewer customers waited until the Monday after Thanksgiving to shop online, spending 26% more online on Black Friday 2011 than in 2010. The research conducted by the third party looked at U.S. shoppers who had ordered from a catalog, e-commerce website, mobile device, television or ad, or home shopping party in the preceding three months, and at least one of the purchases was delivered via ground shipping, and what these consumers proved quite telling in what makes online shoppers tick. It’s not surprising that traditional websites are the leading direct sales channel, but you may be surprised to learn that mobile and catalog shopping are now comparable to one another in popularity. You also might not realize the key role that shipping plays in selecting and staying loyal to a merchant, either. Here are a few other statistics that bore out how and why consumers decided to purchase (or not purchase) from a particular e-tailer:
  • 85% of shoppers admitted to not completing the purchase after selecting an item to order
  • The #1 reason consumers cited for not completing a purchase after selecting an item was shipping cost
  • More than half of consumers surveyed said they had returned merchandise to an e-tailer at some point, and the among these shoppers the overwhelming top expectation for the return was a prepaid, preaddressed shipping label
  • 9 out of 10 consumers have tracked an order or return, the vast majority said the ability to track shipments is at least somewhat important in deciding whether to patronize an e-tailer
  • 90% of consumers said they’d hold off on calling customer service at least a day if a package wasn’t delivered on time if they could track the delivery online, and the majority said they would be very unlikely to contact customer service at all
Although shipping isn’t the top factor for consumers in deciding where to shop, it certainly is important. Specifically, the following emerged as the top considerations regarding shipping:
  • Reasonable costs
  • Timely delivery
  • Receiving undamaged merchandise
  • Convenient returns process
Meeting and managing the shipping expectations of consumers makes them more comfortable with the order experience. It can also help you allay any lingering concerns they may have about buying from e-tailers rather than brick- and-mortar stores. At Newgistics, we believe that meeting the expectations identified in the survey can help retailers not only retain customers—but also acquire them in the first place. It’s all part of understanding consumer DNA and adapting accordingly.