December 7, 2016

Survey: Shoppers have rising standards for e-commerce delivery

One-third of consumers will abandon a retailer for shipping a single wrong item.

By DC Velocity Staff

Shoppers are holding online retailers to heightened expectations for swift and error-free delivery during the 2016 holiday shopping season, a survey shows.

More than one-third of consumers—35.4 percent—will abandon a retailer for shipping a single wrong item, according to the study by voice platform provider Voxware Inc. And shoppers are not letting smaller retailers off the hook. Two-thirds of respondents said they expect a similar or better experience as compared to what larger retailers provide.

Those results show higher standards for the accuracy and speed of holiday e-commerce fulfillment than respondents had in previous years. Voxware asked more than five hundred consumers about their holiday shopping plans, expectations for delivery of items that they purchase online or by phone during the holiday season, and the impact that late or incorrect deliveries have on their future shopping decisions.

One in four shoppers said they expect holiday gifts purchased online or by phone to be delivered within two days... even if they have not requested expedited shipping. In the company's 2014 survey, only 8 percent of respondents had that expectation.

Likewise, 84 percent of consumers said their expectations are higher than they were two years ago, and 78 percent stated that their expectations for on-time and accurate delivery are higher during the holiday season than during other times of the year. The results expand on preliminary findings from the Voxware survey that found that early holiday shoppers have higher expectations for swift delivery than their more leisurely neighbors.

"Although few US retailers promise delivery within two days of an order being placed, there is clearly an increased expectation for speed and accuracy," Voxware President and CEO Keith Phillips said in a release. "Call it the 'Amazon Prime Effect' if you like, but understand that new standards have been set and retailers need to meet or exceed them or risk being passed over by consumers."

The survey also showed that shoppers will punish retailers that wilt under this rising pressure.

  • 27 percent of online or catalog shoppers will altogether abandon shopping with a retailer that makes even one error in product delivery, and 63 percent will jump ship if that retailer makes two to three errors.
  • 19 percent of online or catalog shoppers will abandon shopping with a retailer that delivers a holiday purchase later than promised, and 60 percent will do so if the retailer provides late delivery two or three times.
  • 35.4 percent will abandon shopping with a retailer after receiving a single incorrect item (up from 16.5 percent in 2014), and shipping three or fewer incorrect items will cost a retailer 91.8 percent of their customers (up from 68.4 percent in 2014).
  • 27 percent of respondents expect to be offered some type of compensation—such as a discount, coupon, or credit—from retailers that send them an incorrect item. And 9 percent expect to be offered compensation if items are delivered late.
  • 46 percent of respondents said that they were likely or very likely to publicly share their negative experiences online.

"This survey shows that consumer expectations are at their highest level during the holiday season, with expediency, accuracy, and traceability driving online retail shopping trends. Retailers are facing tremendous pressure to get orders right and get them delivered faster than ever before," said Phillips. "With 77 percent of shoppers intending to have more gifts delivered to themselves this season compared to last year, the stakes are too high for fulfillment failures."

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