A recent survey from the Boston Consulting Group featured by Internet Retailer magazine explored what factors were necessary to improve the customer experience for online shoppers. Findings generally correlated with those of ComScore’s research comissioned by UPS from last year.
Customers are increasingly focused on the post purchase experience online, such as the delivery and returns processes. Worryingly for retailers 74% of customers stated that free delivery would improve their online experience, a significant rise from UPS’ result of 58% just last year.
53% of customers use whatever delivery method is either cheapest or free
Additional important factors around delivery to the respondents were fast delivery options, guaranteed delivery and flexible timing and location of deliveries.
This also ties in with the expert feedback from the recent Metapack Delivery Conference, as many attendees heard that free, fast and convenient delivery were key to customer satisfaction.
But what does this mean for retailers in practice? Many cannot afford the substantial cost of providing free shipping yet customers clearly demand it and that demand seems to be growing. This is something that retailers will need to take into consideration when planning their online strategy.
35% respondents of the survey also believed that free returns would improve their online experience
Additionally the return and exchange process was an area that customer’s were least satisfied with. According to ComScore’s research comissioned by UPS 42% of customers would like retailers to improve the ease of returns and exchanges.
Customers also felt that providing clear return policies online would be a key improvement. This is hugely important for retailers as 63% of customers will look at the return policy prior to purchasing and if this is in any way unclear, many will abandon their basket.
Providing payment themselves for returns shipping and re-stocking also dis-satisfied online shoppers.
Overall customers demands from the online channel appear to be increasingly price and post-purchase focused. This proves our theory that the sale is truly no longer the end of the transaction and until these issues are addressed by retailers this demand for improvement will continue to grow.