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UK online shoppers demand greater transparency

A glitzy website or a user-friendly app aren’t enough to satisfy today’s savvy online shoppers. They demand upfront transparency on fees, control over the delivery process, a clearly-stated returns policy and loyalty rewards, according to new research from the 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online ShopperTMstudy.

The study captures evolving trends, preferences and expectations of online shoppers in 15 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia, including the UK. This latest study examined the generational impact that Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers are having on retail trends, offering retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers intelligence that can help them grow and compete globally.

“Online shoppers in the UK are savvy and sophisticated, with high expectations when it comes to eCommerce,” said Mark Vale, President, UPS UK, Ireland and Nordics. “They educate themselves about their purchasing choices and demand control over delivery and returns options. In order to thrive, businesses need to be alive to this challenging operating environment and ensure they give their customers the flexibility of choice that people now routinely want to see.”

Key findings of this year’s study include:

  1. Customers research before buying. More than you think. Nearly ninety per cent of British customers research items before purchasing them online, while younger generations are most likely to be influenced by customer reviews. British customers are most keen to research information on product price and/or discounts (89 per cent), delivery options including speed and cost (70 per cent), and product details and alternatives (49 per cent). When shopping from foreign web shops, ninety-three percent of all British buyers expect to see all shipping fees, taxes and duties totalled before they’ll complete the purchase.
  2. Reward me. Value me. Fifteen per cent of British consumers have more than five loyalty memberships. Reasons given for joining include free shipping, members-only discounts and rewards points.

Meanwhile, online marketplaces remain popular: Ninety-six per cent of online shoppers in the UK have used a marketplace, while 21 per cent of consumers intend to purchase more on marketplaces in the next 12 months.

3. Choice and convenience. That’s free, right? Respondents like next-day deliveries, but they will consider other options - such as lower fees or incentives - for slower shipping. Millennial shoppers are more likely to choose accelerated delivery options than other age groups. Generally, though, online shoppers in the UK show a very low appetite for paying for shipping. That’s why they’ll take various actions to obtain free shipping, including opting for click and collect (35 per cent), adding items to the cart (35 per cent), and choosing the slowest transit time (35 per cent).

4. The Return path… Returning merchandise remains a key demand for British online shoppers, with 72 per cent of surveyed consumers responding that the returns experience affected whether they would continue shopping with a retailer. 34 per cent of British online shoppers returned an item in the previous three months.

In the UK, more than half of shoppers (59 per cent) ship returns back to sellers/retailers. Meanwhile, the main reason cited in the UK for a poor returns experience is having to pay for a return (37 per cent). Delays in getting a refund annoys a significant percentage of consumers (24 per cent), as do delays in receiving an exchange (20 per cent).

“eCommerce can drive growth for businesses of all sizes, but especially small businesses, who can reach new customers both in their own countries and abroad like never before,” said Abhijit Saha, vice-president of marketing, UPS Europe. “Being successful online isn’t a given, and retailers need to ensure that they are meeting consumer expectations. Customers want visibility, they want to be as informed as possible, and they expect a hassle-free returns experience. These latest findings underscore the challenge: No two online shoppers are the same. The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey is yet another way that UPS is helping to provide its customers with the insights and solutions they need to grow their businesses.”

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