Modern Retail

New 2020 Study from ShipStation Unveils a Shift in Consumer Expectations Around Ecommerce Delivery

National study indicates the influence of the global pandemic on purchase behaviour and why clear communication is more important than ever in the delivery experience  

ShipStation, the world’s leading web-based ecommerce shipping solution, today released findings from its national consumer study, which outlines how consumer shopping habits and the expectations of ecommerce delivery have changed over the past year. According to the report, “Last Touch, Lasting Impact: The 2020-2021 Edition,” UK consumers said they have increased online shopping by 31 percent over the past year, with 60 percent agreeing that the majority of their shopping is now done online as a result of the pandemic.  

Supply chain challenges due to the sharp increase in online shopping have only made the delivery experience more influential in 2020. As the final interaction with the retailer, 84 percent of shoppers say that it stands out most in the ecommerce customer experience, and 87 percent assert that the delivery experience directly impacts their decision to shop with the retailer again. 

The study, which was carried out amongst over 500 online shoppers living in the UK with an average age of 35, also highlighted the importance of clarity during the pandemic. 80 percent of consumers said that COVID-19 has increased their expectations for brands and retailers to communicate order delays or cancellation updates. A huge 93 percent also expect potential delivery delays to be addressed prior to checkout. 

“As the pandemic forced so many sectors to shift to digital operations, the retail industry saw a massive surge in ecommerce purchases followed by major strain on the supply chain,” said Mike Hayers, UK Country Manager at ShipStation. “Our data shows that while consumers have become a little more patient as a result, they still expect to be given clear information up-front, and their products to be delivered on time. The influence of this on a brand’s reputation cannot be understated. In fact, 77 percent even say that a negative delivery experience will impact their perception of a retailer, even if it is as a result of carrier error, with almost half (49%) saying they are less likely to shop with that retailer again.”

Additional key findings from the report include:

The Pandemic’s Effect on Delivery Expectations

While efficiency remains key, the study reveals that the pandemic has contributed to a shift in consumer expectations of delivery speed, with the window in which customers expect to receive online purchases increasing to eight days — up from a five-day window in 2019. Although 83 percent anticipate delivery delays due to the pandemic, only 10 percent consider these delays to be long-lasting or permanent adjustments and retailers need to be aware that the speed with which over a third (37 percent) of shoppers receive their goods influences their purchasing decision more than it did a year ago.

The study shows that while the majority of consumers are more willing to wait, 60 percent expect retailers to provide slower deliveries for free. Meanwhile, the number who said they were more likely to pay for express deliveries now than they were a year ago has risen from 31 percent to 40 percent. 

Returns Are No Exception

More than half (55 percent) of online shoppers are also influenced by retailers’ returns policies, with easy and free returns topping the list of consumer requirements. In fact, while down 3 percent from 2019, a whopping 91 percent believe that retailers should offer free returns. Additionally, 90 percent expect the process to be self-service, requiring no contact with customer service. Against the backdrop of recent safety precautions, shoppers say they plan to steer clear of in-store returns, opting instead for mailbox drop-off or porch pick-up (63 percent) options. 

Delivery’s Impact on Brand Perception and Long-term Loyalty

Because the delivery of products is the final point of influence that a retailer has on the customer journey, it is a powerful tool for converting one-time shoppers into loyal customers. If they get it wrong, brands and retailers face major risks indicated by 87 percent of consumers in the survey saying that the delivery experience directly impacts their decision to shop with a retailer again. 

A Lasting Impression: Getting it Right

While delivery delays have resulted in 38 percent of customers leaving bad reviews on social media, a huge 94 percent agree that if a retailer acknowledges or rectifies a poor delivery experience, they will still shop with them in the future. To keep customers happy after a negative experience, 95 percent say that gestures such as offering a discount will incentivise them to shop with the retailer again, but most importantly, almost all consumers (98 percent) want fast and honest updates to avoid a lasting negative perception of the brand. 

About ShipStation

ShipStation is a multi-channel, multi-carrier order and delivery management platform that streamlines and automates key ecommerce processes, with over 300 integrations to all major selling channels, ecommerce platforms, and carriers, including Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Royal Mail, DPD, Hermes, Amazon Shipping, DHL Express, UPS, and more. ShipStation is headquartered in Austin, TX, with offices in Sydney and London, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP). For more information, visit https://www.shipstation.com.