For generations, shopping was largely bound by geographic borders. International purchases took time and were complicated. No more: Retail has gone global. That’s a main takeaway from the recently released global UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, which captured the changing behaviors and preferences of online shoppers in six markets including the U.S., Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
The study, which is based on based on a comScore survey of more than 18,000 online shoppers worldwide, offers five things smart and savvy retailers should consider:
1. Deliver a consistent experience.
Globally, one thing that has stayed constant is that online shoppers continue to use a combination of single-channel and multichannel purchase options when shopping. In the U.S., 85% of respondents were satisfied with their overall online shopping experience, while only 65% where satisfied with their shopping experience in physical stores. Bridging this gap, with crossover opportunities, like in-store pickups and returns for online orders, can help increase physical store engagement while also improving overall shopper satisfaction.
2. Offer flexible delivery options.
Customized delivery options give shoppers the freedom of choice. While in the U.S. only 37% of online shoppers prefer alternate delivery locations, such as access points — a much higher percentage of shoppers in Asia (59%) and countries like Brazil (55%) and Mexico (52%) prefer alternate delivery locations over standard delivery. Shoppers are even more interested in these alternatives when a shipping-fee reduction is offered.
3. Elevate the in-store experience.
Shoppers across all regions studied were more satisfied with their online shopping experience than they were with the in-store shopping experience. This may just be due to the convenience of shopping online at home — but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep store locations relevant and improve the overall experience. Both online and in-store design are how shoppers get to know and understand your brand. Many shoppers, though making purchase online, grow to love a brand when they visit a physical store and try on clothes or look at the products before buying. Rather than avoid it, these shopping patterns should be taken advantage of by improving in-store employee knowledge of products and helping to facilitate multichannel purchases.
4. Empower the shopper.
More than 90% of respondents in Asia, Mexico and Brazil used their smartphones to look up product reviews and research product details while shopping in a store. In the U.S., that number was also high at 70%. This is a growing trend, so it is important for brands to elevate this experience through options like scannable QR codes on in-store product tags that lead shoppers to your website. By using methods like these, you can guide shoppers to your website for reviews and details to better control their overall shopping experience and retain the sale.
5. Explore and incorporate new technologies.
While comfort with chatbot technology was still less than 50% in most countries, users are beginning to adapt to chatbots for receiving product information, returning products and even ordering products online. Incorporating technology, such as rewards apps that engage shoppers and challenge them to visit in-store locations, can also increase engagement and add a more personalized feel to your brand experience. Other technologies that allow users to customize delivery options can enhance satisfaction with the overall purchasing process. Online shoppers are indicating that these enhancements are valuable to them whether shopping online or in-store.
To keep up with today’s savvy online shopper, brands have to allow flexibility, personalization, and encourage engagement through unique technologies to keep shoppers satisfied. There are many avenues to improve online shopper satisfaction — adjusting for these five steps will have your customers coming back for more.
Anthony Gallo is Director of Marketing Strategy for the UPS i-parcel unit. He joined i-parcel prior to acquisition in 2014, working in data analytics and business intelligence, and has worked his way into marketing to drive revenue management and support demand generation strategies. In his free time Gallo enjoys reading and exercise, going for walks, and writing. He also teaches Data Science for Rutgers University — leading an analytics boot camp certification course.