Whether they opt to spend most of their cash during Black Friday or Cyber Monday, holiday shopping data widely shows many of U.S. consumers’ holiday purchases on either day will be made on the internet.
In fact, the frequency at which consumers are online shopping is rapidly increasing. In a new e-commerce study done by global technology company Pitney Bowes, which polled more than 13,000 buyers and 650-plus retailers, 94 percent are shopping online, with 35 percent making at least one online purchase per week (the number drops down to 30 percent for the U.S. demographic, though it’s up from 19 percent compared with last year).
Unfortunately, this record volume of orders has put a strain on retailers, resulting in late arrivals, expensive shipping, tracking inaccuracies, confusing return policies and lost or incorrect order fulfillments — all of which contribute to consumer dissatisfaction.
“Individual consumers are spending more time shopping online and waiting on products, creating a greater probability for a bad experience,” Lila Snyder, president of commerce services at Pitney Bowes, said in a statement. “As volumes rise, retailers are struggling to keep up with the demand in terms of physical infrastructure and the technology to manage it effectively.”
After a frustrating holiday shopping experience in 2017, Pitney Bowes found that 61 percent of consumers felt “let down” last year, which is up from 47 percent and 41 percent in previous years.
“More and more, consumers are telling us that the post-purchase experience — what happens after the order — is every bit as important, if not more, than the shopping experience that occurs before the order,” Snyder said. “The silver lining for retailers: Consumers are giving you the blueprint for how to get it right, and those who get it right will be rewarded with customer loyalty and revenue growth.”
This blueprint includes fast and free shipping (and it explains why so many retailers, like Amazon and Walmart, are trying to say ahead of the game by waiving shipping costs this holiday). Ninety-one percent of American shoppers will reportedly abandon their cart if a retailer doesn’t offer fast and free shipping. The definition of “fast and free” is also evolving, with only 47 percent who consider two-day free shipping “fast.” And 76 percent of global consumers prefer “free” over “fast shipping,” though the reverse is beginning to show in the U.S., a trend that’s driven by millennial shoppers (35 percent are willing to pay for fast shipping).
Heading into the holiday season, it’s important to note that a negative post-purchase experience can significantly hurt a retailer: 90 percent of U.S. shoppers will take some sort of action, from publicly venting on social media (30 percent of millennials) to vowing to never purchase from the brand again, the study found. Successful retailers that see at least a 25-percent year-over-year revenue growth not only guarantee free returns, but they’ll also offer real-time tracking, fast and free shipping, easy returns with pre-printed labels and prompt refunds.
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