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Study conducted by UPS and comScore takes deep dive into consumers’ online shipping preferences

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
June 12, 2012

As e-commerce continues to become more prevalent and becomes a “go-to” shopping option for consumers, subsequent effects of that figure to impact supply chains in the sense that they might be more consumer-driven in the future. That was one of the main findings of a recent study put out by UPS and comScore.

The study, entitled the “Online Shopping Customer Experience Study,” analyzed data from a comScore survey of more than 3,100 United States-based online shoppers conducted last February.

One of the most notable findings of the study was that even though “online shoppers are generally very satisfied, there is room to improve their satisfaction related to shipping and returns.” Among these things to improve their satisfaction outlined in the report are communicating the expected delivery date of the order and having tracking updates and delivery notifications to understand when a package is arriving.

The study found that 79 percent of its respondents were satisfied with many components of online- and e-commerce-related shipping, including: online tracking capability (79 percent); free/discounted shipping (74 percent); number of shipping options offered (74 percent); clear returns policy (70 percent); ease of making returns/exchanges (65 percent); flexibility to choose delivery date (58 percent); and flexibility to re-route packages (57 percent).

In an interview with LM, UPS Director of Retail Marketing David Sisco said that a clear and cohesive returns policy offered by retailers is something consumers want and need to see before placing an online order.

“They need to have a comfort level in that whatever they purchase, they will have a high confidence level in their ability to return it from a returns and reverse logistics perspective,” he explained.

One of the main overarching themes of the study cited by Sisco was how consumers want more control of the order and shipping process in terms of being cognizant of knowing exactly when they will receive their product, following order placement.

“It is no longer a range of days; it is more specified now, in terms of exactly knowing what date that product will be received,” he said. “Consumers are becoming a little bit more demanding in that area and that requires retailers needing to be prepared to meet their needs.”

Even though 70 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with retailers’ clear returns policies, 33 percent indicated it is an area where improvements can still be made.

Other areas where consumers expressed a need for improvement, included: free/discounted shipping (58 percent); ease of returns/exchanges (42 percent); online tracking ability (38 percent); and number of shipping options (28 percent), among others.

And with consumers looking for more clarification about when they want to receive online orders, there was also some discrepancy in terms of how long they are willing to wait for most purchases, with 5 percent asking for next day; 14 percent at 2-3 days; 29 percent at 4-5 days; 29 percent at 6-7 days; and 23 percent at 8 or more days.

Another interesting—and related—takeaway in the study was focused on shipping options, with the study’s authors noting that online shoppers expect a variety of delivery options to be available.

But there appeared to be a slight difference between the shipping option expected and the shipping option actually chosen most.

For expected shipping options, the study found that consumers want: economy ground in 5-7 days (78 percent); ground in 3-5 days for a nominal fee (60 percent); 2-3 day air for a nominal fee (43 percent); and next-day for a minimal fee (30 percent). And for shipping options most actually chosen, economy ground in 5-7 days was favored by 67 percent of consumers, followed by ground in 3-5 days at 25 percent; 2-3 day air for a nominal fee at 6 percent; and next-day air for a nominal fee at 2 percent.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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