Key findings of the research include:
- Only 18% of consumers said same/next-day delivery was important; it seems that speed really isn’t important.
- However, convenience (50%) and cost (25%) were seen as more important.
- Almost half (47%) of consumers admitted to experiencing problems with online orders in the last 12 months.
- And when it comes to poor service, 71% of respondents said they would be likely to switch to an alternative retailer when next shopping for products online.
- Almost two-thirds of UK adults (63%) said the ease of being able to return items factors into which retailers they shop online with.
These are among the findings of the JDA/Centiro ‘Customer Pulse 2015’ report.
Of those shoppers who had experienced problems:
- nearly half (46%) reported late deliveries
- 40% stated they had received a missed delivery card despite being at home to receive and order
- 30% said they never actually received their goods
While much of the talk from retailers surrounding home deliveries has concerned the importance of rapid next- or same-day delivery, the research revealed that cost (50%) and convenience (25%) are simply more important than speed (18%).
Furthermore, nearly half of respondents (46%) who have made an online purchase in the last 12 months said that in this time they had chosen to shop with a retailer that offered multiple delivery options over one that only offered one option. In fact, a third (33%) of respondents said they would be likely to pick a retailer specifically on the basis they can offer a particular slot for delivery (at an extra cost), over one which offers just free delivery. It’s interesting to note that even once an order is placed and is being shipped, convenience is still a factor for consumers – 20% of respondents said that being able to change the delivery date or timeslot after an order was shipped was important to them.
Jason Shorrock, retail strategy director at JDA:
“Today’s consumer is not only dictating how and when they would like to receive goods, but reserving the right to make adjustments up until the last minute. It is clear that consumers will vote with their feet if their expectations aren’t met. For instance, the research shows that more than half (56%) of those online shoppers who experienced problems at peak times in the last 12 months, such as Black Friday and Christmas, said they would be unlikely to shop with the same retailer this year.”
Many happy returns
The convenience of returning items purchased online continues to influence where consumers choose to shop. The research found that a significant number of UK adults (63%) said the ease of being able to return items factors into which retailers they shop online with. Of those who have shopped online, common frustrations with returns include having to pay for return postage and packaging (37%) and having to return items by post or wait for courier (24%), followed by an inability to return goods to a store (15%).
When it came to online fashion, the biggest sector for returns, 22% of shoppers were buying more than one size or colour of the same item in a typical order; this compares to 29% in 2014. However, more than half of respondents (55%) who have bought clothes online were still returning a least one item per year. Most popularly, respondents were returning 1-2 items per year (28%), with almost a fifth (17%) returning 3-5 items. Considering the physical cost of handling returns and the need to markdown returned goods, this is potentially losing UK online fashion retailers up to £3.2billion annually.
Niklas Hedin, CEO of Centiro:
“The research clearly shows the returns experience is having an increasing bearing on who consumers shop with online. Retailers should look at returns as a further opportunity to enhance the customer experience. In the same way that today’s omni-channel environment is allowing consumers to buy items where and when they want, they would like the same flexibility when it comes to returns. This could be returning goods to a store or specifying a location and/or time for a courier pick up. By capturing this information, retailers can start to personalise the returns experience and create more value for the consumer and themselves.”
Click-and-collect growing pains
The research revealed that nearly half of respondents (49%) who have made an online purchase in the last 12 months had used click-and-collect services. Of those who had used click-and-collect, the most common reason for doing so was to avoid delivery charges (57%); this was closely followed by the fact it was more convenient that home delivery (55%).
However, the research also highlighted that nearly half (47%) of click-and-collect shoppers that have used the service in the past 12 months encountered issues that potentially damaged their customer experience. This is a noticeable increase from last year (32%)*, highlighting potential growing pains for retailers as they have attempted to scale their click-and-collect operations over the last 12 months. Of those who have experienced problems, the most commonly cited were long waiting times due to a lack of staff (32%) followed by staff being unable to locate items in store (30%).