E-commerce is a rapidly growing business. Retail oriented e-commerce grew 15% in 2012. A record $186 billions dollars worth of retail transactions took place, reaching 10% of the discretionary spending of Americans. The growth in online retail transactions far outpaced the growth rate for overall retail spending by over two-fold. This rapidly growing market leaves retailers poised to capitalize on distinct expectations of consumers regarding the online shopping experience.
Online Shopping Habits Stats
The 2013 Online Shopping Habits report from UPS offers a detailed breakdown of customer’s desires and expectations. Based on a survey of 3,000 online shoppers based within the United States,
- 60% of consumers make four or more purchases online in a three month period.
- Over a 25% of online shoppers make more than seven purchases online each quarter.
This demographic maintains significant marketing power within the online retail sphere.
Key Influences of Shopping Habits
Significant insight was gained based upon online focus groups of customer’s needs and desires, which influence the choice to complete their purchases online rather than utilizing traditional brick and mortar retail locations. The key focus areas needing improvement as perceived by shoppers are:
- Shipping options are vitally important to consumers. Customers demand a cleared expectation of delivery timing and appreciate flexible delivery options, especially those that interface with mobile devices, allow them to reroute packages on the go, and provide them with the option of choosing a delivery date.
- Easier return policies are necessary to improve post-purchase relationships with consumers and to allow consumers to differentiate between retailers perceptions of customer service when consumers are providing recommendations to associates.
While most consumers are satisfied with the online shopping experience, a significant number of consumers highlighted the need to have greater control over their delivery process. When conducting a quadrant analysis, the same issues are highlighted as being highly valued with customers, though many state they are not satisfied with their options.
Online Shopping Getting Social
Social media plays a large role in e-commerce as well. 84% of consumers indicate that they use a social media site, most commonly, Facebook. A larger portion of consumers indicated they desired greater integration between social media, mobile devices and their shopping experience. A majority of consumers highlighted the desire to be included in special promotions and among consumers that had “liked” a retailer on Facebook, the majority indicated that ability to access special promotions as the reasoning.
After Purchase is Just as Important
In areas of closing the sale and post-purchase activity, it was revealed that over 80% of consumers add items to an online “shopping cart” and then abandon it. The majority of consumers stated the reasoning was related to shipping costs. Over 50% of consumers stated they would prefer to see shipping costs earlier in the process. After the purchase consumers offered five issues that were experience by over a quarter of consumers. These were:
- Needing to pay for return shipping
- Refund took too long to be processed
- Re-stocking fee was required
- Local store would not accept return
- Return policy was too strict
The 2013 survey results highlight significant customer service oriented opportunities. Consumers demand greater flexibility in the online retail market and the growth will likely continue for many more years. Proactive retailers will need to change current practices and tailor new policies to increase their market share as e-commerce continues to expand into 2013.