Retooling eCommerce strategy for the tech-savvy consumer.
The United Postal Service recently released a new study that revealed several key insights about the current state of eCommerce in America, as well as its consumers. Below are some of the most important findings - as well as what they mean for online retailers today.
The "UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper" research showed that just over half of all transactions made during the survey period were done so over the web, marking a 3 percent uptick from last year and confirming what most sellers have already been realizing - that eCommerce is on the rise and more shoppers (17 percent) are going to start choosing to make transactions online rather than in stores.
Online, in-store and omnichannel
The digital devices consumers seem to be turning their attention to most heavily for shopping are smartphones, with a whopping 77 percent agreeing that they plan to increase adoption of mCommerce activity through their phones. It's not just that consumers are starting to shop more from their digital devices, either. The UPS study also found that there has been a decline in shoppers choosing to make store-only purchases, while the number of omnichannel transactions is on the rise.
This jump can be attributed, at least in part, to more eCommerce companies improving the mobile experience for their shoppers. In fact, 73 percent of the survey participants reported feelings of satisfaction for the mobile shopping experience, whereas just 65 percent said the same the year prior. However, social media may also be a contributing factor, seeing as 34 percent agreed that it played a pivotal role in influencing their purchases.
Other points in the eCommerce purchasing cycle where mobile phones come into play include researching goods and services, as well as looking up reviews, reading product descriptions and details, and comparing prices.
Shopping and shipping
Just because more consumers are choosing to make purchases online, though, does not mean they are staying away from the physical locations altogether. The study revealed that half of eCommerce shoppers who place orders over the internet had the item shipped to stores to pick it up, rather than having it delivered right to their respective homes.
Furthermore, it seems that "ship-to-shop" methods are still a powerful feature for eCommerce companies to offer, since 46 percent of those who used this option said it lead to them doing more shopping - and 70 percent actually purchased additional items. It is worth noting that 36 percent of those surveyed indicated they weren't satisfied with the helpfulness of in-store employees. Therefore, these numbers may be even higher if retailers focus on improving their worker training programs.
When it comes to eCommerce shopping, the majority, or 73 percent, of consumers cited free shipping as the most important factor. And while shoppers value affordable delivery, many also said that they would be OK with paying a premium price if it meant that they would get their products faster.
In a white paper, UPS indicated that the main takeaway from the study was that tech-savvy shoppers are playing an important role in retail today - ultimately transforming the way eCommerce companies are, and will continue to approach, selling. UPS explained that it is imperative for retailers to stay ahead of the game, which means adopting tools, processes and end-to-end solutions that allow them to provide "flexible delivery choices, more control and more convenience."
As the modern-day consumer - and the technology he or she uses - continues to become more advanced and intelligent, it is going to become critically important for online sellers to expand their capabilities. The problems for most eRetailers though are with inventory and order management. Having to coordinate operations across multiple channels is difficult yet necessary. This is why it is incredibly important that, when investing in technological tools, merchants choose a platform that includes features for eCommerce fulfillment and ship-to-shop solutions.
Utilizing software that enables retailers to leverage a scalable fulfillment network will make it significantly easier to ensure the best distribution model is being used. Not only does this translate to faster, cheaper deliveries for consumers, but it also means an overall better experience - for both the shopper and the seller.