UPS: Demands From Online Shoppers Evolve

Despite more consumers purchasing a variety of products online, a recent survey from UPS found that “avid” digital shoppers are demanding a more seamless experience between virtual and physical stores.

The fifth annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study revealed that for the first time more than 50% (51%) of all purchases made by respondents were done online, up 3% from the 2015 survey.

“Consumers are skilled at using technology to their advantage and thrive on gathering information when shopping,” said Teresa Finley, chief marketing officer at UPS.

She noted that 45% of online shoppers love the thrill of hunting for and finding great deals, and brick-and-mortar stores continue to play an important role in their shopping experience.

“The challenge is how to best engage with shoppers to fulfill their desires,” Finley added.

The findings in the UPS survey mirror those of a March 1 HomeWorld Business story that focused on the evolution of the omnichannel shopping experience and the need for retailers to engage with consumers through multiple touch points that include stores, e-commerce and social media outlets.

According to the survey, there continues to be a shift from traditional in-store shopping to shopping with multiple channels with 17% of consumers saying they plan to shop less in store and more on their electronic devices. Cross-channel transactions, which refer to purchases using in-store and at least one online channel, now account for 38% of all purchases (up two points). Store-only searches and purchases declined by two points to 20%.

The survey noted that some traditional online retailers are experimenting with showrooms without inventory to provide consumers with the opportunity to examine products at a physical location before buying them online. One in six shoppers said they have visited such retailers.

Online sales drive significant in-store traffic with half of shoppers who buy online shipping to a physical store. Of these, 46% make additional purchases while picking up their items. A majority of shoppers (60%) also prefer to return items to a store, at which time 70% of them make additional purchases. Yet only 36% of shoppers said they experience helpful associates when returning items to a store.

“Cost, control and convenience are shoppers’ primary drivers,” said Finley. “Shoppers may be buying more online, but they still value the physical store. Providing an exceptional in-store experience can position the retailer to convert more sales and enhance loyalty when customers pick up and return items.”