Consumer Needs Rise for Better Supply Chain Visibility & Reverse Logistics

While 86 percent of consumers are satisfied with the overall experience of shopping online, e-tailers still have significant opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and their competitive position by making the process of returning or exchanging items easier, a new study shows.

The “Online Shopping Customer Experience” study from comScore Inc. and UPS—which survey of more than 3,100 U.S. online shoppers and an online focus group held in January 2012—analyzed consumers’ online shopping behaviors and preferences pertaining to the post-purchase experience. The report highlights which factors lead consumers to return items; to recommend online retailers to friends; their requirements for a smooth checkout process, and which shipping services they find most valuable.

Key analysis of the report finds that:

  • Approximately 75 percent of online shoppers believe that package tracking capabilities are an important service that every retailer should offer
  • Retail reverse logistics is gaining consumer attention and could be the next “free shipping” craze, with 42 percent of consumers reporting that they want to see improvements in the online retail returns process and 58 percent wanting improvements in free shipping options
  • Approximately 80 percent of online shoppers have abandoned an online shopping cart, with 42 percent having done so due to the estimated package delivery date posted at checkout

Convenient return process critical to customer satisfaction
Few factors figure more prominently in improving customer satisfaction in online shopping than an easy-to-understand and convenient returns process.  A significant 63 percent of online shoppers look at a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase. Nearly half said they would shop more often and recommend a retailer with a lenient returns policy, indicating its value in driving customer loyalty. Hassle-free returns and exchanges rank above average in terms of importance for shoppers but rank low in terms of customer satisfaction, showing a significant area of opportunity for retailers.

“The ‘Online Shopping Customer Experience Study’ provides retailers with the insights needed to enhance the post-purchase online shopping experience, focusing on the factors which lead to customer loyalty and growth,” said Susan Kleinman, Director, comScore. “While free shipping has tended to dominate the discussion regarding what provides satisfaction to online shoppers, the study shows there are several other factors critical to a positive online shopping experience. Retailers need a holistic understanding of these drivers if they hope to stimulate sales while maintaining healthy margins in this competitive retail environment.”

“This is important intelligence that can be put to use immediately,” added Alan Gershenhorn, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, UPS. “Online retailers of any size can win more business during this year’s holiday season if they prepare now to offer a better shopping experience. UPS recognized some time ago that online customers are expecting speed, convenience and flexibility after they click to buy. That’s why we’ve developed solutions such as the industry’s broadest range of return options and UPS My Choice which lets consumers control the time and location of delivery.” 

Shopping cart abandonment
The study also finds that two in five online shoppers abandon shopping carts due to delivery estimates. Consumers currently are most satisfied with the ease of checking out, the variety of brands and products available and online delivery tracking ability. They are least satisfied with the current level of flexibility in choosing delivery dates.

At least 42 percent of online shoppers reported abandoning their shopping carts because of delivery timing estimates. While two-thirds of shoppers choose the most inexpensive shipping option, more than 40 percent expect to see the availability of two-to-three day delivery and nearly one-third want the option to choose overnight shipping. The need for speed is also important, with 48 percent of online shoppers not willing to wait more than five days for packages to be delivered. And one-third of shoppers said they most often choose to pay a fee for faster delivery.

Online shoppers also said they value having tracking capabilities to know when their packages would arrive—46 percent said receiving their orders when expected would lead them to recommend an online retailer. The ability to reroute a package and schedule a two-hour delivery window is also important for shoppers in the delivery process.

For more report findings, visit