UPS study finds e-com customers want transparency and control of delivery

Online shoppers want transparency on fees, control over the delivery process, easy returns and loyalty rewards, according to UPS
Ups, E-commerce, Online retail


A glitzy website or a modern app aren’t enough to satisfy today’s savvy online shoppers, according to UPS.

They demand upfront transparency on fees, control over the delivery process, a clearly-stated returns policy and loyalty rewards, new research from the 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study finds.

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The 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study captured evolving trends, preferences and expectations of online shoppers in 15 countries and regions, including the U.S., Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and, for the first time, India.

This latest Pulse 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 complete globally.

“For seven years, the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper has spotted emerging e-commerce trends before they became mainstream,” said Kevin Warren, UPS’s chief marketing officer. “This proprietary research is just one way UPS continues to offer valuable insights that help retailers and shippers make strategic decisions to meet changing global consumer needs.”

UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, reveals interesting insights about shoppers in India, a key trade partner for the UAE. Quality matters most in India (shoppers make 66 % of international purchases for that reason), followed by cost of delivery (41%), speed of delivery (39%) and trust in the international seller (39%). Shoppers in India led in returns – 68% of Indian online shoppers send an item back to the seller/retailer.

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They were also most vocal about voicing complaints about the retailer. At 53%, Indian shoppers led the study in terms of registering complaints about the retailer as compared to their global counterparts and 30% posted a negative review on social media followed by 25% in Asia Pacific and 22% in the Americas.

“India is the largest trading partner of the UAE, while the UAE is India’s third largest trading partner. With bilateral trade between the two countries expected to exceed $100 billion by 2020, the findings of the latest 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey will help businesses better understand customers’ perspective and successfully adapt to their evolving needs,” commented Rami Suleiman, UPS president for the Indian Subcontinent, Middle East and Africa (ISMEA).

“It will also especially help supply chains adapt to a new consumer paradigm, a shift reflected in faster and efficient fulfillment experiences with full-service returns policy.”

The study found that five of the eight reasons that consumers abandon carts – a key pain point for e-commerce – are within the retailer’s control.

These include delivery cost, delivery time, stock levels, the inability to deliver a product when needed and the preferred payment method being unavailable.

Interestingly, at 48%, Indian shoppers were found to be most active in abandoning items in their cart due to poor customer service, as compared their global counterparts.

Key themes pulled from this year’s study include:

The critical customer experience begins with research. Ninety percent of customers research items before purchasing them online, while younger generations are most likely to be influenced by customer reviews. Ninety-five percent of all buyers expect to see all shipping fees and taxes totaled before they’ll complete the purchase.

Online shoppers want to feel valued and be rewarded. As a result, about one in five (19%) of 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 percent of online shoppers have used a marketplace, while 36% of consumers worldwide intend to purchase more on marketplaces in the next 12 months. Worldwide, 48% of consumers buy items impulsively on marketplaces.

Shoppers want still want choice and convenience, but they’d rather not pay for it. 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 show a very low appetite for paying for shipping. That’s why they’ll take various actions to obtain free shipping, including adding items to the cart (36%), choosing the slowest transit time (32%) and searching online for a promo code (32%).

Fifty-six percent of online shoppers track deliveries, with Americans the most likely to be active trackers. (When it comes to offering visibility and tracking solutions UPS offers consumers UPS My Choice and the recently launched UPS My Choice for Business, designed for small and medium-sized businesses.)

Returns remain key to return customers. Returning merchandise remains a key demand for online shoppers, with 73% of surveyed consumers responding that the returns experience affected whether they would continue shopping with a retailer. Globally, 36% of online shoppers returned an item in the previous three months.

Globally, about two-out-of-three shoppers (63%) ship returns back to sellers/retailers. This method is the most popular in Europe and Asia-Pacific (APAC), where 67% of shoppers ship their returns.

Meanwhile, the main reason cited for a poor returns experience is delay in getting a refund (25%). Having to pay for a return annoys a significant percentage of consumers (24%), as does a delay in receiving an exchange or a replacement item (21%).

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