Third annual consumer survey shows consumer expectations have rebounded from pandemic disruptions through continued use of blended fulfillment services
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa – September 8, 2022 – Radial, Inc., a bpost group company, the leader in eCommerce solutions, today announced the results of a consumer insights study which surveyed 1,000 adults across the United States to gather insights around shoppers’ plans and expectations for the 2022 holiday season.
After two years of navigating the pandemic and strained global supply chains, retailers and brands face another uphill battle this holiday season, consumer spending has become more selective while speedy delivery timeframes are once again top of mind. Yet, pandemic-induced behaviors and blended fulfillment channels remain prevalent and will continue to fuel the customer experience (CX) this season.
“The retail sector has undergone significant unpredictability and digital acceleration over the last two years. Supply chain disruptions and evolving consumer behaviors have shifted a formularized market, into a dynamic one. The impact of inflation introduces a new variable for brands to plan and strategize around this year,” said Laura Ritchey, Chief Operating Officer, EVP, Radial. “To ensure peak operations run smoothly, it is essential that brands focus on inventory management and measure against consumer demand. The need for sound omnichannel offerings will ensure customers get a great experience regardless of the channel from which their order is fulfilled.”
Blended fulfillment channels remain integral in the shopping experience
The survey shows that online and in-store are more symbiotic than ever in Americans’ shopping journeys. Nearly half (46%) of consumers said they will shop the same amount in store this year compared to 2021, but online seems to be the preferred choice as 58% anticipate increasing the use of online shopping this holiday season. Compared to last year’s survey, this is an 8% increase in online shopping plans.
Simultaneously, brands and retailers’ investments in omnichannel models continue to pay off as consumers are holding onto pandemic-favored fulfillment channels like buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS) and buy online pick-up curbside (BOPAC). One in three consumers anticipate increasing BOPIS usage, and 30% say they expect increasing BOPAC when shopping this holiday season.
Gift-giving amid inflation slated for pre-Thanksgiving
While consumer demand continues to move earlier into Q3, the bulk of consumer expenditures will occur in Q4. As of late August, only 12% of consumers noted they have begun holiday shopping, this month 18% will start. The majority (41%) of respondents said they will begin holiday shopping pre-Thanksgiving (October into early November). Notably, based on Radial’s experience, while shoppers have started shopping earlier overall, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still the busiest days for online ordering across retail categories.
Although 38% of consumers noted they will modify the volume of gifts they purchase, 40% still plan to buy the same amount of gifts as last year. Research indicates that inflation is curbing gift-giving volumes to some degree, but it has not diminished the gift-giving spirit of shoppers. Meaning brands should expect similar consumer demand as previous years.
Consumer expectations around delivery, shipping and CX are increasing
Pre-pandemic behaviors are re-emerging among consumers, particularly around the need for quick delivery. One in three (33%) consumers say that the most reasonable timeline for when they expect holiday gifts ordered online to be delivered is two-three days – this is a 10% YOY increase. In 2020 research indicated only 14% expected their holiday gifts within two days. Referencing Radial’s 2018 consumer findings, over a third (34%) of consumers expected to receive packages in two days or less, showing just how much consumers have gone back to pre-pandemic expectations.
Additionally, free shipping remains a top deciding factor when consumers consider making a purchase from a brand online. Demand and interest for new delivery innovations is also growing as 46% of consumers said they would select drone delivery if it were available to them in the next year. Underscoring just how interested consumers are to get products as fast and as convenient as possible.
While consumer expectations increase and supply chain and inflation challenges persist, there are lessons to be learned from previous years. The top challenges consumers faced last year were:
- 66% of consumers experienced items being out of stock as part of their 2021 shopping experience
- 40% noted that last year they did not receive items on time
- 39% of respondents noted that items were not available via the channel they wanted to purchase them (i.e., not available in-store, online, or through another pick-up method)
To ensure, they are meeting consumer expectations, brands should make improvements on inventory management and stocked shelves to avoid consumers looking at other brands or deciding not to purchase altogether. For brands that need optimized omnichannel operations and scale to meet increased consumer demands, Radial offers support through eCommerce fulfillment, order management, omnichannel technology solutions, transportation, payments and fraud solutions and customer care services. To learn more about how brands can scale operations and drive ROI ahead of the holiday season, please visit the Radial website.
Radial, Inc., a bpost group company, is the leader in eCommerce solutions. Premier brands around the world confidently partner with Radial to deliver their brand promises, anticipate and respond to industry disruption, and compete in a rapidly evolving market. Our expansive network of fulfillment centers, flexible transportation services and advanced omnichannel technologies, help clients meet increasing consumer expectations and maintain market competitiveness. With our personal customer care services and intelligent payment and fraud solutions, brands confidently deliver high-value customer experiences required today. We are flexible, scalable, and focused on our clients’ business objectives. Learn how we deliver today’s retail for you at radial.com and follow us on LinkedIn
Daysi Robles Lopez