ATLANTA — Integration of social and mobile media, as well as shipping options and flexible returns, can drive brand loyalty as consumers seek out more choices and convenience when shopping online, according to a new study.
The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper: A Customer Experience Study, conducted by comScore and UPS, polled 3,000 consumers earlier this year about which factors led them to shop more on computers, tablets and smartphones and to abandon brick-and-mortar shopping and recommend retailers to friends. It found that 44% were more likely to shop with a retailer if they could buy online and pick up an item and the store, while 62% wanted the ability to buy online and return items to a store.
"Consumers have a growing number of digital touch points, with more ways to stay connected with their online retailers through every phase of the shopping, buying and fulfillment process," comScore senior director Susan Engleson said. "What will set apart one retailer from another in a competitive marketplace is how well they meet the rapidly evolving needs and expectations of customers."
Forty-six percent said they were less likely to comparison shop when using a retailer's mobile app, while 47% said they wanted retailers to send coupons to their smartphones when in-store or nearby. Meanwhile, 84% of online shoppers use at least one social media site, while 60% of Facebook users will "like" a brand to receive an incentive or promotion.
When it comes to shipping, three-quarters of shoppers report adding items to their online carts to qualify for free shipping, while 78% will choose the least expensive shipping option, and 97% said tracking a purchase is essential or nice to have. But only 44% said they were currently satisfied with their ability to reroute a package, and retailers that support such changes have a competitive advantage.
Returns are another important service, with 63% of respondents to last year's study reporting that they reviewed a retailer's return policy before making a purchase, a figure that increased to 66% in this year's survey. Eighty-two percent said they would complete a purchase if they could return the item to a store or have free return shipping, and 67% said they would shop more with a retailer offering such a service.