E-Shoppers: It’s a Mall World

E-Shoppers: It’s a Mall World

Online shoppers across the globe are buying from marketplaces and international retailers, relying more on digital devices and seeking alternate delivery options, according to the latest UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study.

Almost all online shoppers in the markets surveyed shop at marketplaces—third-party e-commerce sites that let multiple merchants sell products. In Mexico, 99 percent of shoppers report making a marketplace purchase, compared with 98 percent in Asia and 96 percent in both Europe and Canada. The top reasons for using marketplaces are better prices and free or discounted shipping.

Global competition for customers is increasing, with a significant number of online shoppers in Canada (83 percent), Brazil (81 percent), and Mexico (78 percent) buying from international retailers. In the United States, nearly half (47 percent) of shoppers make international purchases. Consumers shop internationally primarily for better prices and access to specific or unique products.

Most global shoppers also use mobile devices to search for products, compare prices, locate stores, and track deliveries, more reason for retailers to think “mobile first.” At least 70 percent of respondents in all regions use smartphones to compare prices while in stores.

Meanwhile, shoppers expect quick fulfillment of online orders and speedy delivery across all regions, but expectations for what counts as quick delivery differ (see chart). Consumers in Asia, Mexico, and Brazil expect to be able to place orders later in the day and still be eligible for same-day and next-day delivery.

Across all regions, consumers make online return purchases. U.S. shoppers (44 percent) are the most likely to return an online purchase, while shoppers in Mexico are the least likely (22 percent). When both return options are available, shoppers in Asia and Europe prefer to ship online purchases back to retailers compared to consumers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, who prefer to return online orders to a physical store. Among those who prefer to ship returns to a physical store, ease and free shipping returns are the leading reasons for this preference across all regions.

New retail developments that may play a role in the industry’s future include online marketplaces and technologies such as robots and chatbots, notes the study. Retail consumers are more open to some new technologies, but skeptical of others. When asked about the appeal of robots in stores, more than half of consumers in the United States and Canada are not convinced, preferring to interact with a person.

While face-to-face assistance is preferable in the store, respondents prefer self-service options online. The comfort level with using chatbots for tasks such as getting product information is highest in the United States (65 percent) and lowest in Mexico (45 percent).

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