What Do Customers Want? UPS Shopping Study Suggests Free Shipping, Easy Returns, Alternate Delivery

What's a Lead AnywayGlobal Sonic Limited has released details of a recent UPS shopping study that underscores what many retailers already know: consumers want advanced mobile features, flexible shipping options, and hassle-free returns.

The recent study, conducted by UPS and ComScore, reveals changes in consumer shopping preferences and buying behavior.

“A total of 5,000 U.S. consumers were surveyed,” reads the report summary shared with MMW. “The results indicate consumers plan to research and purchase more frequently using their mobile devices, they are influenced by social media, and free shipping continues to drive purchasing decisions.”

A new aspect of this year’s survey is the revelation that consumers (93 percent) want to shop at small retailers. The reasons vary from “unique products” to a desire to “support the small business community.”

And consumers aren’t afraid to research — and “switch channels” — for the best deals.

“Online shoppers frequently change retail channels during their shopping experience,” note the researchers. “Better prices (57 percent) and selection (49 percent) are the top reasons for purchasing online after researching an item in-store. Nearly half (48 percent) of online shoppers have used ship to store in the past year, and 45 percent of those consumers made an additional purchase when picking up their online purchase.”

No surprise in this study finding: retailers should continue to advance their mobile platforms. In fact, the 38 percent who have a mobile device but do not use it to make purchases complained that product images are not large or clear enough. About a third said “it’s hard to compare products.”

As has been true for several years now, free shipping remains the most important option during checkout according to 77 percent of online shoppers. Notably, more than half (60 percent) said they have added items to their carts to qualify for free shipping.

Other must-haves for retailers include hassle-free returns (66 percent want free return shipping, 58 percent want a hassle-free “no questions asked” return policy, and 47 percent want an easy-to-print return label) as well as alternate delivery locations for people who will be away when a package is due to be delivered.

“Compared to last year’s study, more consumers are open to alternate delivery options,” according to the report. “In 2014, 26 percent said they prefer to have packages delivered to locations other than their home, this year it rose to 33 percent.”

When not at home to sign for a package, 32 percent would like it to be shipped to another convenient retail location.