Study: Consumers’ shipping expectations higher than ever
There is a major disconnect between retailers and consumers when it comes to shipping expectations.
Retailers understand that consumers want free shipping. But they are challenged by and grappling with the rising costs of shipping online orders, according to “The State of Shipping in Commerce,” a report from Temando, a shipping and fulfillment software platform provider.
The report confirms that shipping causes shopping cart abandonment. Fifty-four percent of shoppers abandoned their carts due to expensive shipping, while 39% abandoned their carts due to no free shipping. And 26% abandoned their carts due to slow shipping.
According to the study, 59% of shoppers will opt to buy from a bricks-and-mortar store if they perceive that the delivery fee for buying the same item online is too high. And while 66% believe that the high cost of shipping is not relative to the experience provided, 51% of retailers listed the rising cost of carrier services as a key challenge.
While retailers are experimenting with premium delivery services, they have limited knowledge of how much these services cost and/or are held back by operational barriers. Temando’s research highlights that retailers are struggling to find a profitable model for premium delivery services, and as a result, retailer adoption has slowed down:
● 53% of retailers offered same-day delivery in 2016 compared to only 29% this year.
● 49% of shoppers wanted hyperlocal delivery in 2016, but only 24% of retailers offered it this year.
● 34% of retailers in 2016 offered weekend/afterhours delivery in 2016 compared to only 25% this year.
Meanwhile, 40% of consumers expect to access Amazon Prime-style memberships in the next 12-36 months. Only 25% of retailers plan to introduce these services in the same period. Almost 100% of shoppers would like delivery date estimates, but currently more than half of retailers don’t offer this feature.
The good news is that some retailers are getting it right and turning shipping into a profit center. For example, 43% of retailers found that offering better shipping choices created more revenue.
Meanwhile, 33% of enterprise retailers reduced their cart abandonment rate when offering more shipping choices, while 50% of mid-market retailers experienced increased sales. Another 27% of small retailers reduced carrier costs, and 47% of micro retailers improved customer service with new shipping choices.
Additional results revealed that:
• Shoppers are willing to pay up to $18 for same-day delivery and $19 for international shipping, and 65% would increase basket size to qualify for free premium shipping.
• Tracking is an area for improvement for retailers, with only 31% of companies offering email tracking updates today, despite demand from 78% of shoppers.
• Returns influence conversion with 43% of Americans stating they would shop more online if offered free and easy returns.
“Competition in e-commerce is not going to subside – in fact, the scale and speed of it is accelerating with the continued growth of Amazon and international shopping,” said Carl Hartmann, co-founder and CEO of Temando.
“It’s not only U.S. consumers shopping abroad more, the number of cross-border shoppers globally is increasing,” he added. “The retailers who can cross borders and use this changing landscape to evolve will be successful at e-commerce.”
Fast-fashion giant steps up POS game with new partnership
Eager to improve customer service and security at the front end, Forever 21 is converting its point-of-sale (POS) fleet to a single solution.
Through a partnership with Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, the fast-fashion retailer is adding the vendor’s hardware, equipment and services across all its corporate stores around the globe. The agreement makes Toshiba the chain’s single point of contact for all POS systems, peripherals and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) front and back office retail store technology.
Through the multi-year deal, Forever 21 will adopt Toshiba’s TCx 300 smaller footprint, energy-efficient POS systems and peripherals. Toshiba will also provide the procurement, support and standardization of other store technology, including networking equipment. Leveraging Toshiba’s services solution, the retailer will work with a dedicated project management office and team of service experts that will act as the single point of contact for all help desk requests for POS hardware and all other OEM retail store equipment, according to Forever 21.
Beginning in June, Toshiba will manage the deployment of all retail store equipment, including new POS systems and store servers, registers, displays and printers in current and new corporate stores. The company will also provide maintenance services for both Toshiba and non-Toshiba equipment, as well as asset management services and support.
“Toshiba understood our desire to maximize the value of our retail investment and more importantly, they are delivering expert staff to standardize and manage all of the various store technology and services across our corporate stores,” said Alex Ok, president of Forever 21. “We selected Toshiba as our end-to-end global provider with the goal to reduce our complexity and costs, so our store teams can continue their focus on meeting the needs of our customers.”
Forever 21 operates more than 830 stores globally.
Winn-Dixie Case Puts Spotlight on Website Accessibility/Compliance
A much-anticipated ruling on website accessibility has been issued out of the Southern District of Florida. The ruling in Juan Carlos Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores (case no. 16-23020-civ-Scola; S.D. FL 2017) requires the attention of businesses across the country that host websites.
To recap, this was a case of first impression. After a two-day non-jury trial, the Honorable Judge Robert Scola determined that Winn Dixie’s website operates as a “gateway” to its physical store locations, and therefore is required to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Court determined that “[t]he services offered on Winn-Dixie’s website, such as the online pharmacy management system, the ability to access digital coupons that link automatically to a customer’s rewards card, and the ability to find store locations, are undoubtedly services, privileges, advantages, and accommodations offered by Winn-Dixie’s physical store locations.”
Commentary to the Court’s decision has focused mainly on two portions of the decision: (1) having an inaccessible website violates Title III of the ADA; and (2) a business is required to make its website accessible even though it is a fact that, the Department of Justice has never promulgated enforceable regulations. Instead, DOJ has relied upon the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to shape this guidance known as, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
While this opinion is the first of its kind, the ruling also addresses an important issue: specifically, ADA liability arising from third party links featured on a website. While we agree with commentary to date, we believe this third issue has not received the attention it deserves.
In the Winn-Dixie case, the Court ruled that WCAG 2.0 AA were the guidelines Winn Dixie was required to follow. Conversely, in March, a federal court in California struck down Web accessibility claims where the plaintiff attempted to use WCAG 2.0 as an appropriate standard to make a website accessible.
In Robles v. Domino’s Pizza (No. cv-106599; C.D. Cal 2017) the court held that forcing Domino’s to impose a standard to website accessibility in the absence of regulations “flies in the face of due process.” Winn-Dixie not only holds that WCAG 2.0 is the standard to follow, but also requires website audits reoccur every three months to ensure compliance.
Vendors and Compliance
It is a common practice for businesses to host links on their websites that connect them to partners, vendors, or other third parties. The Court’s ruling this week suggests that even if a business hosts a compliant website, it may be held liable for noncompliance under Title III of the ADA, if it links up to websites that are inaccessible.
The Court in Winn Dixie ruled that “[t]here are 6 different third parties . . . who interface with Winn Dixie’s website so Winn-Dixie needs to make sure that those third parties also make sure that their websites are accessible” and “[t]he Court also finds that the fact that third party vendors operate certain parts of the Winn-Dixie website is not a legal impediment to Winn-Dixie’s obligation to make its website accessible to the disabled. First, many, if not most, of the third party vendors may already be accessible to the disabled and, if not, Winn-Dixie has a legal obligation to require them to be accessible if they choose to operate within the Winn-Dixie website.” This language suggests that an operator or owner of an accessible website may face liability for the noncompliance of vendors that it features through its links.
Advocates may welcome these developments, but businesses should beware. Although this opinion is not binding on other courts, businesses with websites available to the public, may want to consider the following items:
• A Web accessibility plan should be a priority. The Court in the Winn-Dixie case took note that a plan was not in place at Winn Dixie prior to the filing of the lawsuit.
• For companies that have compliant websites, it should be noted that, if they are going to provide a link to another business there should be some effort to confirm the link is to an accessible website.
• Businesses should consider the best practices in the industry, and inquire as to whether their prospective vendor or business partner comply.
• You should also make sure your contracts with your vendors and partners provide provisions to protect your company against website accessibility lawsuits.
This type of litigation is on the rise and will likely have a record year. Until the DOJ issues permanent regulations, there is no end in sight for these types of actions, and businesses need to remain vigilant in their compliance efforts.