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28 per cent of UK shoppers expect to spend more online this peak season

UK online shoppers expect to spend more this peak season but have high expectations from retailers and brands in return, according to new research from global ecommerce solutions provider, PFS. The company found that 28 per cent of the UK’s online shoppers expect to spend more online during the 2019 peak holiday shopping season than last year.

Brands especially need to ‘get it right’ over the peak season, however, with more than four in ten e-shoppers (44 per cent) believing that the online orders they make at Christmas are the most important they will buy all year.

For brands that get it wrong, more than six in ten (64 per cent) online shoppers say they would stop using an online retailer after a maximum of three bad experiences, and over half (54 per cent) of those who shopped online in the last 12 months have had a negative experience with online shopping.

Looking into what upsets them the most, the research highlighted that shoppers are particularly concerned with returns policies. Three-quarters (75 per cent) of millennial online shoppers say they wouldn’t use an online store that has a strict or a ‘no returns’ policy, while nearly seven in ten (68 per cent) of all respondents who made an online purchase in the last 12 months said they would abandon a ‘no returns’ brand.

Following the recent news that well-known online retailers are ‘blacklisting’ customers who regularly send back items, half (51 per cent) of those who shopped online in the last 12 months state they wouldn’t use a brand which ‘blacklisted’ customers. This is despite only 5 per cent of online consumers having returned more than five items they purchased online in one year.

In fact, consumers feel online brands should aim higher with their returns policies to meet customer needs. Three quarters (75 per cent) of all consumers believe online retailers should expect higher levels of returns than stores because you can’t physically see the product when buying. More than three fifths (62 per cent) of online customers expect to be able to quickly and easily return products that are ill-fitting or unsuitable.

It’s even more important for retailers to deliver on time during the Christmas rush: only 2 per cent of those who shop online would be happy to receive an online delivery more than a week after purchase at peak season.

When things do go wrong, customers want an easy-to-use customer service process to take care of it. Interestingly, they are still looking to use email, rather than more modern, but often frustrating, online chat programs to get their issues resolved. More than half (51 per cent) of internet shoppers expect to have access to an email customer support team, compared to under a third (32 per cent) who would expect an online chat service.

Significantly, if retailers do make these mistakes throughout the delivery journey, they can expect shoppers to tell everyone what went wrong. More than half (56 per cent) of internet consumers who have had a negative experience with online shopping brands shared this with friends and family. Younger shoppers are even tougher, with almost seven in ten (69 per cent) millennials who have had a negative experience stating that they shared the details of that experience with friends and family.

The research also found that more than a quarter of shoppers (28 per cent) expect to spend more online during the 2019 peak holiday shopping season than last year.

Joe Farrell, VP of international operations at PFS, comments: “Our research indicates online shopping, with its associated convenience and choice, will continue to grow this peak season. Whilst great news for retailers, it comes with a caveat. For many people these orders are the most important they make all year and they have little tolerance for poor service from retailers and brands. They want their items on time, correct and undamaged. And if there is a problem, they expect an easy to use customer service process to take care of it. Brands that fail to do this risk quickly alienating the customer. Brands that get it right are in for a bumper peak 2019.”

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