Online shoppers expect speedy shipping and free returns, reveals study

Sahand Babali on Unsplash

Online shoppers expect to receive products quicker than ever before, new research by CommerceHub reveals. In a global survey of 6,000 consumers, 78 per cent said they look for same day or next day shipping when making a purchase. Meanwhile, price and reviews are also playing an important part in their purchasing decisions.

Although most are willing to pay more for fast delivery, the majority of consumers don’t want to be charged for returns. Over half (61 per cent) of those surveyed felt paying a fee to return online purchases was ‘unfair’ while 72 per cent stated they’d only buy from sites offering free returns.

With cost-of-living still a significant concern for many consumers, price is the ultimate decision-driver for online shoppers, with 98 per cent considering it to be an essential factor in their purchasing choices.

In addition to quick delivery, interest in omni-channel options was also strong, with click and collect considered an important factor when buying online for more than half of the respondents (56 per cent).

“Retailers lagging behind on speedy delivery need to re-prioritise,” advised Philip Hall, CommerceHub’s managing director for Europe. “The popularity of near-instant shipping from Amazon has fundamentally shifted consumer expectations around convenience. Quick logistics is no longer a nice-to-have but a baseline necessity that shoppers expect.

“The impact of the returns process is also underappreciated in e-commerce. With three-quarters of consumers now insisting on buying from sites that offer free returns, brands must consider their approach. Returns hit profitability, so it will be interesting to see how brands and retailers can balance these challenges and whether charging for returns en masse, could re-train consumers to be more selective in their purchasing and discourage over ordering online.

“By synchronising inventory across platforms retailers can prevent overselling and enhance customer satisfaction. Consolidated inventory management and a powerful data transformation engine contribute to greater operational efficiency and significantly impact a brand or retailer’s shipping speed.

“The growing trend of omni-channel shopping is becoming notably more appealing for consumers. The survey shows that half of UK consumers have used click and collect when shopping online in the past year. For those that can offer it, the key is making it work across all channels: store, own website, third party. Leveraging a point of presence through stores is a way to counter pure play online retailers.”

For more consumer insights, download the 2023 Online Consumer Behaviour Global Report here.