Study: Retailers missing mark on shipping, in-store experiences

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Shopper browsing in store

Retailers are not meeting customer expectations, and in many cases are missing on the fundamentals.

That’s according to a new global consumer study by Oracle Retail, which found that, among other things, retailers and customers dramatically disagree on how easy it is to return purchases. Fifty-seven percent of the retailers surveyed noted that returning products is 'very easy.' But the same share of consumers disagree and rate the return process as a 'complete hassle' or at least could be easier. 

Shoppers and retailers are also split on what constitutes their most important in-store experiences. More than half (56%) of consumers rate convenience, such as having their size in stock, as the top priority, while only 34% of retailers noted it as such. Consumers also rank discovery, as in space to experiment and try new products (36%) and expert advice (22%), as important when shopping in-store. This was much higher than retailers who indicated these attributes at merely 18% and 6%, respectively. 

When asked how retailers are preparing to deliver against ever-changing consumer shopping needs, "faster shipping" reigned supreme. Consumers were open to different ways their order could arrive as long as the delivery is fast and cheap. Ninety-two percent of consumers said they would like/love "free one-day delivery by whatever means is most expedient – drone, driverless car, messenger, etc."  

"Consumer expectations are perpetually in flux, with each positive experience setting a new bar for success in retail," said Mike Webster, senior VP and general manager, Oracle Retail. "No matter if they're enjoying the convenience of ridesharing, browsing through a seamless in-app experience or walking into a brick-and-mortar storefront, customers expect the same caliber of service in all interactions, upping the stakes for retailers as they compete with rival brands and new business models."

In other findings: 

  •  Fifty-one percent of consumers associate convenience with a great shopping journey, regardless of channel. In North America, convenience has been raised to new levels, with 57% of respondents in the region valuing convenience above all else, compared to 50% in Europe. 
  •  More than half (54%) of respondents love the idea of 'online technology that allows you to view a digital version of yourself to try on products (e.g. sunglasses, clothes). A further 41% of global respondents would be interested in 'online subscription fashion services that automatically send you items in your style and you return the ones you don't like,' with North America   trailing other regions at 29%.
  •  Consumers are increasingly open to whatever gets orders to their door the fastest, with more than 90% seeking free one-day delivery by whatever means is fastest, including drone, driverless car or a messenger. This is more than double (43%) the number of consumers who felt these delivery mechanisms would be "awesome" when asked just last year.
  • Consumers equally value choice, with the majority (86%) agreeing that retailers should offer the ability to choose the most convenient delivery option at the time of ordering. While 87% of retailers recognize choice is important to consumers, the need is not yet being met, with 47% of consumers reporting that the delivery option they want is 'sometimes, rarely or never' available.
  • Online-only retailers are winning on this front as 61% of consumers feel that "the delivery option they want is always available" compared to 52% for traditional retailers and 46% for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. When asked if "items always arrive when they say they will," 52% of respondents say this is the case with online-only retailers, compared to 49% for traditional and DTC brands.  

For the full report, visit