More than one-third of the Internet population, an estimated 75 million people, buys goods online at a rate of two to six purchases per month, according to a recent study commissioned by the United Parcel Service (UPS). Carried out by comScore, a global leader in measuring the digital world, the study investigated exactly what shoppers want and don’t want from their online purchasing experiences. What comScore uncovered is the importance of shipping in customer satisfaction regarding not only speed of delivery, but also website transparency and the value of options. Online shopping cart abandonment rates have soared to 70 percent, and retailers who want to keep their web customers, instead of lose them at the shopping cart, need to empower virtual shoppers as much as possible. ComScore surveyed more than 3,100 online buyers who made at least two online purchases each within a three-month period. While participants were generally satisfied with their shopping experiences, there are clear areas of concern.
First and foremost, the study noted that shoppers are more mobile than ever. The lifestyle of customers who buy online leans on being able to complete these transactions with tablets and smart phones. Up six percent from last year, today’s customer is portable and frequently on the move. While many are willing to wait for an order to be delivered, few customers are willing to sacrifice access to shipment information. Surveyed respondents voiced a desire for this information to be clear and detailed early on in the transaction. Fifty-five percent of shoppers abandoned their carts because shipping information wasn’t presented early enough and they found, too late, that the cost of freight made the total purchase more than was expected. “I have cancelled before I bought many times due to the shipping price being given only after I have entered my address and was ready to buy,” one shopper wrote. To circumvent this problem make shipping options clear early on in transactions. This will build trust between company and customer.
The comScore study also defined the top four factors that prompt a recommendation from customers. The number one reason customers have recommended a site is the offer of free shipping, followed by timely arrival of the order and easy returns. One surprising fact rising from this portion of the research was that 70 percent of online shoppers have actually added items to their carts in order to qualify for free shipping, in the event that there is a minimum order that must be met to earn free freight. Adopting a shopping cart that includes free shipping with a particular minimum purchase can help drive sales, and in turn, reduce shopping cart abandonment.
Finally, online customers cited the availability of free return shipping as being an important component in their buying decisions. Online companies that specify in the shopping cart that return shipping is complimentary have a much higher customer retention rate from first click to final purchase. While there is plenty to be said for offering discounted shipping, the online shopping experience is defined as much by what happens after the purchasing click as it is by customer website use. Reducing shopping cart abandonment is a multifaceted process and retailers should be equipped with a thorough knowledge of shipping costs, available options, and client needs. Many customers are willing to wait for packages, but the important thing is to keep them in the know. Retailers who guide customers through the online process and offer the most information will find the most success in online store management. The complete comScore findings can be downloaded online at www.comScore.com.