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Consumers, retailers agree on the importance of faster shipping

Faster shipping ranked at the top of consumers’ list of priorities that retailers have not properly addressed, but the good news is it’s at the top of retailer’s to-do list too, a recent study showed.

Oracle Retail’s global consumer study revealed that consumers are increasingly open to whatever gets their orders to their door the fastest, with more than 90 per cent seeking free one-day delivery by whatever means is fastest, including drone, driverless car or a messenger.

Consumers and retailers see eye to eye on this with the latter saying faster shipping is at the top of their list in meeting the ever-changing consumer shopping needs.

Preferred delivery options often unavailable

The survey of 15,800 respondents show that consumers equally value choice, with the majority, 86 per cent, agreeing that retailers should offer the ability to choose the most convenient delivery option at the time of ordering.

While 87 per cent of retailers recognise choice is important to consumers, the need is not yet being met, with 47 per cent 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 per cent of consumers feel that “the delivery option they want is always available” compared to 52 per cent for traditional retailers and 46 per cent for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands.

When asked if “items always arrive when they say they will,” 52 per cent of respondents say this is the case with online-only retailers, compared to 49 per cent for traditional and DTC brands. Although online-only retailers are currently in pole position, traditional retailers and DTC brands aren’t far behind, signifying progress and opportunity.

While consumers and retailers agree on faster shipping as important, they disagree on how easy it is to return purchases.

While 57 per cent of the 210 retailers surveyed noted that returning products is ‘very easy,’ the same share of consumers disagree and rate the return process as a ‘complete hassle’ or at least could be easier.

Convenience expected across all channels

Consumers also rank discovery, as in having the space to experiment and try new products (36 per cent), and expert advice (22 per cent) as important when shopping in-store. This was much higher than retailers who indicated these attributes at merely 18 and 6 per cent, respectively. 

The study also revealed that today’s shoppers don’t view online and in-store as discrete channels and expect the same level of ‘perceived convenience’ no matter where they shop.

About 51 per cent of consumers associate convenience with a great shopping journey, regardless of channel. In North America, convenience has been raised to new levels, with 57 per cent of respondents in the region valuing convenience above all else, compared to 50 per cent in Europe.

Consumers are open to new technologies to help improve the convenience of their shopping experiences. More than half (54 per cent) of respondents love the idea of online technology that allows them to view a digital version of themselves to try on products (like sunglasses, clothes, etc.), and in United Arab Emirates (UAE), the appetite for this is even higher at 67 per cent.

Loyal behaviour should be rewarded

The study also shows that consumers are seeking preferential treatment based on their relationship with the brand. Roughly half (48 per cent) say that offers or discounts which are better than what anyone else can get based on their loyalty to that retailer are ‘absolutely essential.’

Loyalty relies on transparency to succeed: roughly half (52 per cent) of consumers have greater trust in retailers who respond immediately in the event of an issue or recall, and 47 per cent are more likely to trust emerging brands with if they are ‘honest and authentic.’

While honesty from retailers is highly valued, consumers say it can be hard to come by — just one in five (21 per cent) Generation Z and millennial consumers completely trust what retailers tell them.

“Consumer expectations are perpetually in flux, with each positive experience setting a new bar for success in retail,” said Mike Webster, senior vice president 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.”

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