I'm up in Chicago at IRCE and absolutely enjoying the event. The exhibition is so large that I'm not sure I'm going to make it through the entire event given the couple days I'm here – there are some amazing companies we'll be writing about. The absolute insane focus on measured results by every exhibitor here is refreshing as well. Sometimes when I attend other marketing events, some of the sessions and focus seems to slide away from companies actually having to get financial results.
Yesterday I attended a UPS debriefing with Gian Fulgoni, Chairman and Co-founder of comScore where UPS released their annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper (the documents are links on the top right) and the study shows that double-digit changes in online shopping behavior continue to be the norm.
Highlights from the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper
- Shopping Small and Local – New in this year’s study, most consumers (93%) shop at small retailers. 61% shopped at these locations because they offer unique products, 49% couldn’t find what they needed from traditional stores and 40% wanted to support the small business community.
- Shopping Global – In addition, 40% of consumers have purchased from retailers based outside the U.S., with nearly half (49%) reporting they did so to find better prices, and 35% said they wanted items that couldn’t be found in U.S. stores.
- Social Media's Power – Many consumers connect to shopping activities through social media with 43% reporting they discover new products on social media sites. Facebook is the most influential channel but shoppers also embrace visually-oriented sites such as Pinterest.
- Digital Commerce – Retail continues to evolve as some online shoppers consider using mobile technologies in store: 33% find electronic shelf labels appealing, 29% said they will consider mobile checkout, and 27% said they are open to using touch screens to receive information, make purchases or arrange deliveries.
- Free Shipping – Free shipping remains the most important option during checkout according to 77% of online shoppers. More than half (60%) have added items to their cart to qualify for free shipping. The study provides insight to help retailers increase sales – 48% of online shoppers said they ship items to the store, with 45% of those saying they made additional purchases when picking up their orders.
- Hassle-Free Returns – According to the report, only 62% of consumers are satisfied with the online returns process: 67% review a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase, 66% want free return shipping, 58% want a hassle-free “no questions asked” return policy, and 47% want an easy-to-print return label.
- Alternate Deliveries – Compared to last year's study, more consumers are open to alternate delivery options. In 2014, 26% said they prefer to have packages delivered to locations other than their home, this year it rose to 33%. UPS is even testing self-service locker pickup in some cities right now.
- In-Store Pickup – Nearly half (48%) of online shoppers have used ship to store in the past year, and 45% of those consumers made an additional purchase when picking up their online purchase.
One topic of discussion that was very interesting to me: consumers shift shopping channels between mobile and desktop. Mobile conversion rates still significantly lag desktop. Estimates are mobile conversion rates of 0.5% to a desktop's 3% average conversion rate. That doesn't mean that the consumer is not converting… they often shift between the two. In fact, Mr. Fulgoni stated that the large viewport size of new phones like the iPhone 6+ may be responsible for the slight increase in mobile spending deal size and conversion rates.
Retailers need to continue to advance their mobile applications, as 38% who have a mobile device but do not use it to make purchases said product images are not large or clear enough, and 30% said it’s hard to compare products.
- 2015 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper white paper – Domestic
- 2015 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper infographic – Domestic
- 2015 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper executive study – Domestic