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Cracking the Code: New Study Reveals What Online Shoppers Value Most

Data shows that consumers increasingly value savings over speed, ease of returns

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – January 14, 2019 – Radial, a bpost group company, today announced the results of its new global consumer insights study, “Cracking the Code: What Online Shoppers Value Most.” The study surveyed more than 2,000 consumers across the United States and Canada to determine their online shopping preferences and what strategies brands can execute to meet customer expectations in the increasingly competitive business of commerce. The findings showed that consumers have clear and unwavering opinions regarding the services they value, as well as those that would turn them away.

eCommerce is soaring with total U.S. sales predicted to surpass $604.2 billion by the end of the year. Fueling much of this growth is consumers’ increasing their online spending, with the number of U.S. and Canadian consumers who reported purchasing at least $100 of goods per month online jumping from 57.8 to 59.8 percent and from 56 to 62.9 percent respectively. While marketplaces like Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay have always been popular, loyalty to these platforms also skyrocketed year-over-year in 2018, with 78 percent of Americans (+5.4 percent) and 66.7 percent of Canadians (+8 percent) maintaining a membership to an online marketplace. What’s more, membership to these platforms remains consistent across age groups, indicating the ageless appeal of the channel.

However, because of the popularity of marketplaces and the conveniences they offer, independent retailers need to meet the rising standards. Topping the list of valued offerings is affordability, with consumers willing to compromise on delivery time in exchange for receiving their order for free. In fact, while 35.1 percent of Americans expect their goods to arrive in two days or less, only 24.3 percent would be willing to pay up to $10 for delivery. Going a step further, an enormous 64 percent of U.S. shoppers expect free delivery for all online purchases, clearly indicating an increased importance on savings over speed.

Return processes also play a major role in the way consumers purchase online goods. Specifically the findings showed that:

  • 51 percent of Americans and 49.3 percent of Canadians avoid purchasing goods from online retailers who do not offer free returns, meaning that these brands have lost half of all prospective customers before the shopping experience even begins.
  • Roughly half of all consumers (49.1 percent of Americans and 50.9 percent of Canadians) reported that physically shipping their returns was the single greatest challenge when returning online goods.
  • Clothing and accessories is the largest product category that consumers reported they are hesitant to purchase online in anticipation of returns, with 41.4 percent of Americans and 50.9 percent of Canadians opting not to purchase. Customers were relatively cautious with jewelry and luxury items as well, with 30.7 percent of Americans and 32.7 percent of Canadians avoiding such purchases online.
  • For both Americans and Canadians, using pre-paid return labels and packaging is the preferred method for returning goods (51 percent and 39.4 percent, respectively). However, another quarter of American (24.6 percent) and Canadian (25.4 percent) shoppers prefer to manage their returns online and ship items back on their own, and yet another 15.5 percent of Americans and 20.7 percent of Canadians prefer to return items at brick and mortar locations. This indicates that while consumers do have clear preferences with regard to returns, there is still no universal solution, indicating the need for options that allow customers to select their own journey.

“While there is a lot of exciting innovation taking place in eCommerce today, some of the most impactful efforts are taking place behind the scenes,” said Tim Hinckley, Chief Commercial Officer for Radial. “Our data shows that consumers place the most value in inexpensive shipping and easy returns. Brands that focus their resources on delivering these seemingly-obvious but often overlooked, or challenging to execute, aspects of the consumer journey are the ones who will stand out from the pack.”

With a pre-integrated, modular stack of technologies and technology-driven operational services, Radial enables turnkey eCommerce for brands and retailers who are focused on driving a seamless yet profitable customer experience from start to finish. From order management to payments, fulfillment to customer care, Radial arms retailers with the tools they need to meet evolving customer expectations and drive the results imperative for success. To learn more about how brands can thrive in the wake of ever-changing customer expectations, read the eBook here.

About Radial

Radial Inc., a bpost group company, is the leader in omnichannel commerce technology and operations, enabling brands and retailers to profitably exceed retail customer expectations. Radial’s technical, powerful omnichannel solutions connect supply and demand through efficient fulfillment and transportation options, intelligent fraud detection, payments, and tax systems, and personalized customer care services. Hundreds of retailers and brands confidently partner with Radial to simplify their post-click commerce and improve their customer experiences. Radial brings flexibility and scalability to their supply chains and optimizes how, when and where orders go from desire to delivery. Learn how Radial works with you at