While e-commerce seems to have reached a saturation point when it comes to the number of consumers who shop online, the Walker Sands Future of Retail 2016 study says there’s a steady increase year-over-year in the frequency of purchases.
The study is based on a survey of more than 1,400 US consumers.
As per its third annual consumer survey, almost a third of US consumers (31 per cent) says that they now shop online at least once a week, compared to 22 per cent in 2014, and almost three-quarters do so at least once a month. And the number of consumers who shop less than once a month has dropped from 38 percent to 27 percent over the same time period.
It further made clear that consumers want their online shopping experiences to be fast and convenient, indicating supply chain and logistics improvements are fueling growth of online commerce by making it easier for consumers to shop online more often and receive their orders faster.
Consumer expectations are higher than ever for free and fast shipping, making flexibility with returns and fulfillment more important than ever, the study said.
It’s all about speed
Free shipping continues to be the top incentive, with almost nine in 10 consumers reporting that free shipping would make them shop more online. This number has steadily increased over the past two years and has become significantly more influential than other logistics considerations, even as same-day shipping becomes more prominent.
One-day shipping (69 per cent) and free returns (68 per cent) also continue to be top drivers. Study says that the biggest jump over the past three years has been easier online returns, with 58 per cent saying a simpler process could make them shop more online.
While nearly half of consumers (49 per cent) say same-day shipping would make them shop more online, it appears that relatively few are being given the option. Only one in 10 consumers (9 per cent) have used same-day shipping in the past year, compared to 29 per cent for one-day shipping, 70 per cent for two-day shipping and 86 per cent for regular shipping.
More than half (51 per cent) say they have placed an order online and picked it up in store, which speaks to the rising popularity of click and collect. While free shipping continues to be a top incentive, it’s now a given across the board, with no meaningful statistical difference in expectations between consumers who shop online multiple times a year and those who make web purchases only a couple times a year.
But as consumers shop online more frequently, they are increasingly persuaded by the speed of the supply chain. As Amazon and third-party logistics providers make infrastructure improvements that lead to more efficient inventory management, fulfillment and delivery practices, consumer expectations continue to rise, especially among frequent online shoppers. In fact, consumers who shop online more than twice a week are twice as likely to be persuaded by same-day shipping as consumers who shop online only a few times a year (63 per cent vs. 32 per cent).
The same holds true for consumers who have actually used fast shipping options over the past 12 months. Among the most frequent online shoppers, half (50 per cent) have used one-day shipping and 85 per cent have used two-day shipping; one in 10 have used same-day shipping over in the past year. And two-thirds of those who shop online multiple times a week have used click and collect (66 per cent), which is four times higher than the most infrequent shoppers.
Together, the findings suggest that in order for retailers to capture their share of future e-commerce growth – which is being driven primarily by increased frequency – they need to offer these habitual online shoppers multiple shipping and delivery options.