Consumers’ e-commerce delivery expectations don’t marry with reality, MetaPack study finds

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Today’s consumers say their online purchasing decisions are directly influenced by delivery and returns and the experiences they encounter. As the findings of this year’s MetaPack 2016 State of eCommerce Delivery Consumer Research Report reveal, competing in today’s dynamic e-commerce environment directly depends on getting delivery right – because consumers will vote with their feet and their wallets, abandoning shopping baskets if the delivery experience doesn’t meet their expectations, needs or is too expensive.

Conducted in the US and the six largest e-commerce markets in Europe by revenue (UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands), the research polled opinion from consumers who had made online purchases within the last six months. Revealing a profound impact on merchants’ revenues, 43% of consumers said that, following a negative delivery experience, they wouldn’t return to that retailer within a month. Even more significantly, 38% said they are likely to never shop with that retailer ever again and an astounding 45% have abandoned a basket on a retailer or brand/manufacturer’s e-commerce website because of unsatisfactory or unavailable delivery options.

“This year’s research results underline the increasingly vital role of delivery as part of an eCommerce strategy,” said Kees de Vos, chief product and marketing officer, MetaPack. “With consumers’ appetite for perfection continuing to rise, they now view delivery as a core component of an online merchant’s shopping proposition – for them, delivery is a lasting ‘moment of truth’ that ultimately characterises their end-to-end online shopping experience and underpins their purchasing decisions and loyalty.”

The MetaPack 2016 State of eCommerce Delivery Consumer Research Report reveals striking differences between the delivery expectations of consumers and their reality when shopping online:

  • 61% of respondents said that they had purchased goods from one online merchant over another because the delivery choices on offer were better suited to their needs
  • 45% confessed to abandoning online shopping baskets due to unsatisfactory delivery options, citing slow speed of delivery or lack of flexibility as their top reasons for doing so 
  • 49% said that an online merchant’s returns policy had deterred them from making a purchase
  • An impressive 87% confirmed they would happily shop again with an online merchant following a positive delivery experience

Choice and control expectations are evolving: today’s consumers want to call the delivery shots

  • Shoppers expressed a strong desire for increased delivery flexibility that extends beyond the initial purchase transaction itself; 46% of respondents want the freedom to make ‘on the fly’ changes to their delivery after placing an order online
  • 47% of metropolitan respondents said they want online merchants to offer a one-hour delivery service
  • Consumer hunger for a premium ‘same day’ service is growing. This year, demand for a premium ‘same day’ service almost doubled in all countries surveyed. It was particularly appealing to Italian (33%), UK (28%) and US (22%) consumers, with 22% of all respondents taking advantage of a same day delivery option in the last six months

Returns represent the next differentiation battleground: convenience is everything

  • Online consumers expect to encounter free and easy returns – 39% said they always look at a retailer’s returns policy before completing an online purchase
  • 43% voiced frustration at the fact that finding information about the returns process on e-commerce sites is often difficult
  • While 88% of respondents had utilised an e-commerce returns facility in the past six months, just 28% were completely satisfied with the return services they encountered
  • 72% of shoppers said they would be more likely to shop with online merchants that made the returns process more transparent and easier to use
  • Asked to identify their preferred method for returning products purchased online, post was best for 58% of German shoppers, but least liked by Spanish (28%) and Italian (25%) customers
  • Drop-off at a parcel point (PUDO) was the top choice for French (50%) and Dutch (47%) respondents
  • Drop off at a retailer store was most popular with US (44%) and UK (46%) shoppers
  • Convenience and speed of a courier proved most appealing for Italian (57%) consumers

Delivery preferences differ: distinct market nuances prevail

E-commerce market maturity and local cultural preferences mean consumers in different geographies favour different delivery offerings:

  • Click and collect in-store topped the list for UK (68%) consumers, while delivery to a local shop or pick up point was a popular choice for 76% of French shoppers
  • Delivery to a locker was most popular with 31% of German shoppers
  • 20% of all respondents had opted for the convenience of having online orders delivered to their place of work – with Italian (25%) and UK (23%) shoppers most likely to elect for a workplace delivery
  • Weekend delivery services were appealing to 34% of UK and US shoppers alike, but proved less attractive for French (13%) and Italian (14%) consumers
  • Consumer demand for a one-hour delivery service in metropolitan areas is high, especially for 76% of Spanish shoppers who said the availability of this option would strongly incentivise them to shop with an online merchant

Consumers want their loyalty rewarded: free or quick delivery tops the wish list

Online marketplaces continue to set the bar on consumer delivery expectations in terms of the breadth, speed and flexibility of the delivery options on offer, with Amazon hitting the mark for 56% of consumers. Retailers, brands and manufacturers came in joint second with 31% when evaluated on their overall ability to execute against delivery promises.

The ‘Amazon effect’ is clearly influencing consumer expectations. Survey respondents were eager to take advantage of loyalty programmes that reward shoppers with free or quick delivery – 77% want the e-commerce sites they use to offer this feature and 86% said they would prioritise shopping with sites that offered this facility. Demand for loyalty programmes was particularly high with consumers in Spain (88%), Germany (85%) and Italy (81%).

The survey results also indicate consumers have a strong ‘emotional bond’ to the brands they know and trust, with 83% rating their delivery experience of these online providers highly. Online retailers will need to work hard to stay ahead of the competition, as brands and manufacturers continue to make great strides in the execution of their delivery strategies and propositions.

UK highlights from the report include:

  • 50% of UK respondents ranked free delivery as the most important consideration for the majority of their purchases, amongst the highest of the countries surveyed
  • In the UK 72% will purchase more products or items to take advantage of minimum spend ‘free delivery’ option
  • UK shoppers were amongst the most likely (68%) to shop with a retailer again following a positive delivery experience
  • 39% of UK shoppers, higher than any other country, reported a negative delivery experience with a brand or manufacturer’s website because it was too expensive
  • 68% of UK consumers choose to collect in store, more than any other country surveyed
  • With the exception of Italy more UK consumers (28%) have used same day delivery services than any other country surveyed
  • Post is still popular for returning products amongst UK shoppers with 46% saying it was their favoured method, but 40% prefer a courier pick up and 35% said they liked to drop off at a retailer’s store
  • When it comes to peak sales periods 53% of UK consumers said they did not have different expectations or behaviour and 51% said they would not pay more to guarantee next day delivery or store pick up during peak