Study: Shipping options, flexible returns can drive consumer loyalty

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Atlanta — Results of research released Monday by comScore and UPS showed that the more options an online consumer has, the more loyal and dedicated she may be. In fact, integrating social and mobile media, as well as providing shipping options and flexible returns, can drive brand loyalty as consumers seek out more choices and convenience when shopping online.

The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper: A Customer Experience Study polled 3,000 consumers about the factors that led them to shop more on computers, tablets and smartphones and to abandon brick-and-mortar shopping and recommend retailers to friends.

According to the study, 44% of respondents were more likely to shop with a retailer if they could buy online and pick up an item in the store, while 62% wanted the ability to buy online and return items to a store.

"Consumers have a growing number of digital touch points, with more ways to stay connected with their online retailers through every phase of the shopping, buying and fulfillment process," comScore senior director Susan Engleson said. "What will set apart one retailer from another in a competitive marketplace is how well they meet the rapidly evolving needs and expectations of customers."

Forty-six percent said they were less likely to comparison shop when using a retailer’s mobile app, while 47% said they wanted retailers to send coupons to their smartphones when in-store or nearby. Meanwhile, 84% of online shoppers use at least one social media site, while 60% of Facebook users will "like" a brand to receive an incentive or promotion.

When it comes to shipping, three-quarters of shoppers report adding items to their online carts to qualify for free shipping, while 78% will choose the least expensive shipping option, and 97% said tracking a purchase is essential or nice to have. But only 44% said they were currently satisfied with their ability to reroute a package, and retailers that support such changes have a competitive advantage.

Returns are another important service, with 66% of respondents reporting that they reviewed a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase. Eighty-two percent said they would complete a purchase if they could return the item to a store or have free return shipping, and 67% said they would shop more with a retailer offering such a service.


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