E-shopping is more popular than ever. Here's a look at how to win customers in five regions across the globe.
E-commerce has grown exponentially. It's going to keep growing – and fast.
Retailers can increase sales by improving the customer experience – here's how.
U.S. e-commerce sales were $343 billion in 2012 and are expected to hit $385 billion this year. China was at $110 billion in 2012, with projected growth to $182 billion in 2013. That's just two markets.
With all the opportunity comes competition. Retailers (both brick-and-mortar and e-tailers) must create a user-friendly, differentiated online shopping experience to get more of the growing pie.
But how? Recently, UPS commissioned comScore to do a survey of online shoppers around the world. UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper provides insights that cover prepurchase, checkout and postpurchase – and identify ways retailers can increase sales by improving the customer experience.
The global study analyzes data from a survey of more than 14,000 frequent online shoppers in the U.S., Europe (Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy and the U.K.), Australia and Asia (China, Hong Kong and Singapore), Mexico and Canada.
Here are the key takeaways from all regions:
- Online shopping satisfaction is high around the world, with the exception of Asia.
- There is still much room for improvement in the postsales experience.
- Consumers globally are looking for more omnichannel experiences – a combination of brick-and-mortar and online retail – throughout the shopping continuum, from prepurchase to postpurchase.
- Consumers want greater control over their online shopping experience, including more information, more choices and more convenience.
- Shoppers expect perks, like free shipping and returns.
- Online shopping preferences vary widely around the world.
Retailers can improve the customer experience for online shoppers by:
- Offering free and discounted shipping options, and providing these options early in the checkout process.
- Providing a seamless shopping experience, from in-store to online to mobile.
- Improving mobile and tablet app offerings and capabilities.
- Sending tracking information with orders to keep shoppers informed of delivery status.
- Understanding consumer expectations in specific countries and regions – and catering to those preferences in each of those markets.
Download the full UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper: A Customer Experience Global Study.
Keep reading for a breakdown of important trends by region.
Asia and Australia
1. E-commerce growth in the Asia Pacific region is outpacing the rest of the world.
Asia has the world's largest online population – 650 million Internet users. Half of Asia's Internet population is younger than 35 years old. According to recent studies, these consumers are driving the e-commerce boom in this region.
2. Satisfaction is low.
Overall satisfaction in Asia with respect to online shopping ranks the lowest globally. Only half of Asian shoppers were satisfied, compared with 83 percent in the U.S. and 78 percent in Europe.
3. Shoppers want more channels, choices and convenience.
Asian consumers increasingly shop online using their mobile phones and tablets. In a typical three-month period, 70 percent used a mobile phone to make a purchase, and nearly 80 percent made purchases through a tablet. The survey also shows that online shoppers value convenience, notably during the postsales process, with 65 percent of Asia Pacific shoppers rating e-mail or text alerts as the most convenient notification service to track their packages.
4. Hassle-free returns and free shipping drive sales.
A free and convenient returns policy, compared with paying for return shipping or paying a restocking fee, can nearly double the likelihood of Asian shoppers completing a sale. Shoppers in Australia (80 percent) and Singapore (73 percent) are likely to consider a sale if return shipping is free. All markets reported that free delivery tends to generate positive recommendations. Also important: 72 percent highlighted visible reviews as an important aspect during checkout.
Download a copy of the Asia and Australia report and infographic.
1. Mobile is on the rise, but stores still matter.
Mobile shopping is more prevalent, but brick-and-mortar stores remain important. More than one-third of Canadian shoppers surveyed use "ship to store" services, with 29 percent of those purchasing other items in-store, making this option a sales opportunity for retailers.
2. Canadian shoppers are cost- and time-conscious.
Shipping costs are the top reason for abandoning an online shopping cart, followed by the time it will take to receive a package. Communicating shipping costs and delivery times early in the online shopping experience is important.
3. Online shoppers are patient when given delivery options.
Canadian shoppers are willing to wait as long as 10 days, three days more than U.S. counterparts. Still, half of the Canadian online consumers reported that they most often select shipping times within three to six days.
4. Returns matter.
More than half of the Canadian shoppers said they review a returns policy prior to making a purchase. More than four in 10 shoppers said they would be unlikely to complete a sale if they had to pay the shipping costs for returns.
Download a copy of the Canada report and infographic.
1. Mobile and social channels are changing the way consumers shop.
Half of shoppers who use a smartphone and nearly 60 percent who use a tablet said they make online purchases; 44 percent said they were less likely to comparison shop when using a retailer's mobile app as opposed to a mobile website. At the same time, half of European consumers interviewed have "liked" a brand on Facebook, while 86 percent of those consumers pay attention to updates from retailers.
2. Providing an integrated shopping experience is important.
Forty-one percent of the European shoppers said they would be more likely to shop with a retailer if they could buy online and collect the item in-store. They also want to buy online and return items in the store, with 52 percent requesting this.
3. Channels, choices and convenience are key.
Shoppers expect to see total costs early in the purchase process. Flexibility is also important, with 55 percent of European consumers surveyed wanting to choose a delivery date and 53 percent wanting improved options for collecting packages at a convenient retail location. Visibility is important; almost all (96 percent) said tracking a purchase was essential or nice to have, 65 percent wanted to track through e-mail alerts, and 62 percent wanted the ability to track shipments directly on a retailer's website.
4. Hassle-free returns are important.
Returns can help drive sales and improve customer satisfaction. Half of the European online shoppers said that ease of returns needed improvement, two-thirds said they reviewed a returns policy before making a purchase, and 61 percent stated they would shop more with a retailer that offers a hassle-free returns policy.
Download a copy of Europe's report and infographic.
1. The use of mobile is growing, and consumers want more channels.
Consumers want the ability to shop anywhere and anytime through multiple channels. Sixty-seven percent of the surveyed shoppers said they wanted to buy online and make returns in-store; 52 percent were likely to purchase in-store on their mobile device. The Mexican mobile market is growing: 77 percent own a smartphone and 46 percent own a tablet. More than half were less likely to compare prices when using a store's mobile app, while 62 percent would buy more from a retailer that sends promotions to their smartphones.
2. Shoppers want more choices and convenience.
While browsing, consumers look for flexible delivery options and free shipping. Fifty-three percent have added items to their shopping carts to qualify for free shipping. More than 70 percent wanted more payment options – a top reason they abandoned shopping carts. Almost 70 percent said tracking was essential; 57 percent wanted to track shipments through a mobile device. Timely arrival of shipments was the No. 1 reason online shoppers recommended a particular retailer (55 percent), followed by shipping reliability (51 percent) and availability of free shipping (50 percent).
3. Hassle-free returns matter.
More than 60 percent of the shoppers said they reviewed a returns policy before purchasing; 73 percent said they would shop more with a retailer with a "no questions asked" return policy.
Download a copy of the Mexico report and infographic.
1. Shoppers in the U.S. are the most satisfied with online shopping experiences.
More than 80 percent said so, more than any other region, while consumers in the Asia Pacific were least satisfied at only 50 percent. Factors driving this: ease of checkout, online tracking, shipping options and convenient returns.
2. Shoppers want more choices and convenience.
More than half of the U.S. online shoppers wanted an estimated delivery date and shipping costs early in the process. Only 44 percent were satisfied with their ability to reroute a package.
3. Shoppers want more channels.
Nearly half want a coupon or promotion sent to them on their smartphone when they are in-store or nearby. Seven out of 10 consumers access multichannel retailers through digital channels. Among Facebook users in the survey, 66 percent "like" a brand, with most having done so to receive a promo or incentive.
4. Returns matter.
Sixty-six percent reviewed a retailer's return policy before making a purchase. Nearly 70 percent would shop more often with a retailer, and 64 percent would recommend the retailer to a friend, if a hassle-free returns policy was offered.
Download a copy of the U.S. report and infographic.