Study reveals British online shoppers demand flexibility

UPS, the global logistics and transportation services provider, and comScore, Inc., a company that measures the digital world, have released the second UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Europe study, analysing what drives an online shopper's full path to purchase, including over 1,000 British respondents. Results show the advent of the 'flex shopper' – an online buyer who easily switches channels and devices when evaluating and purchasing products.

The European version is part of a global study that examines emerging trends from Asia, Brazil, Mexico and the U.S. Key global findings include:

  • Online shoppers want alternative delivery locations and more payment options.
  • Mobile is a catalyst to omnichannel shopping and retailers should address limitations.
  • Free shipping is still important along with a greater emphasis on returns.

Convenience Dominates the Shopping Landscape

British consumers expect a compelling online and in-store shopping experience, and the flexibility to choose when and how they receive their items. Online shoppers across markets are looking for alternative delivery options, including in the UK where 26% said they would prefer their online order be delivered to locations other than their home, an increase from the previous edition of the survey.

"As technology develops and consumer expectations change, these 'flex shoppers' want convenience and comprehensive information when making purchases online," said Matt Guffey, marketing manager for UPS UK. "To meet these challenging expectations, UPS is well positioned to help retailers develop innovative logistics solutions that make them successful with their online customers, especially with UPS My Choice and the UPS Access Point Network – a combination that helps personalise the package delivery experience."

Comprehensive Information is Essential

Detailed product information and online content may never replace a well-informed sales associate, but it can support consumer research in advance of store visits. Only 59% of UK shoppers are satisfied with the amount of product detail offered to help them determine if a product meets their needs. In response to questions related to delivery information, more than half (52%) of British respondents said they prefer seeing the expected arrival date rather than the number of days it will take for the product to arrive.

Technology Changes Shopping in Unexpected Ways

With new web and mobile technology making it easier to comparison shop, 33% said they compare prices on their smartphones while in store. Social media also influences online purchases for 27% of British online shoppers.

Logistics Plays a Key Role

Providing delivery options at checkout and flexible returns are also important – only 52% of British shoppers are satisfied with the ease of making online returns/exchanges. Delivery times are also a factor, as 56% of UK shoppers have abandoned a cart due to lengthy delivery times or a delivery date not being provided. Free shipping continues to drive purchasing decisions as 51% of British online shoppers said they chose a slower transit time to qualify for free shipping – the highest percentage of the European countries surveyed.

About the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study

In July and August 2014, comScore surveyed more than 6,200 online shoppers in six European countries: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

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