man hands credit card purchase laptop

The drumbeat about free shipping is supported by virtually anyone in the eCommerce business. That should no be a debate anymore!

eBay is currently running a sweepstakes to try to entice more sellers to offer fast and free shipping to bring a more consistent buying experience to the platform. As a company, they know their marketplace depends on staying on top of industry best practices.

At the NRF’s Retail’s BIG Show this week, the trade association held a conference for the press and analysts where it discussed the latest trends in consumer behaviour.

The majority of the topics presented are covered in the NRF’s Fall 2017 Consumer View report. You can read the full document here.

But let’s take a brief look at what the trade association summarized at the show.

Consumers today want what they want when they want it and they don’t expect to pay a premium to get it fast.

mark mathews nrfWhen they walk into a store they want to find their item, and find it easily, especially if they’ve researched it online beforehand. And whether it’s next-day or pickup-in-store, quick delivery of online purchases at little or no extra charge is growing so fast that it’s something shoppers are coming to expect.”

NRF Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis Mark Mathews

For most of us in eCommerce, this is not an earth shattering revelation. All one has to do is follow Amazon, Walmart, and others and look at their success. The formula is virtually the same.

Small Retailers Often Struggle with Consumer Expectations

But for many small retailers, especially those who do not have an adequate online presence, this is still a struggle.

The simple fact is that consumer behaviour has changed. Blame Amazon, or any other major online retailer, but convenience wins!

According to the the presentation at the show, consumers are typically seeking to purchase a specific item rather than just browsing. 58 percent of consumers rated being able to find what they want quickly and easily as their top factor in determining where they shop.

Actually, general browsing has shifted from offline to online as more consumers favor to browse for products online before even heading out to a store.

eCommerce Big Advantage

This gives eCommerce retailers a huge advantage as they are now becoming the first point of engagement when a consumer searches for a product.

Among those shopping and likely to purchase online, 68 percent expect free shipping even on purchases of less than $50. With 47 percent of those surveyed indicating they backed out of transactions if shipping wasn’t free.

shipping boxes on trolly close upEven speed at no extra charge is an increasingly important factor for online shoppers.

38 percent expect two-day shipping to be free and a whopping 24 percent expect free same-day shipping.

Other conveniences such as speed and simplicity to check out (44 percent), and ability to try out products (20 percent), are becoming more important for online retail.

As far as technology is concerned, the report said fewer than a third of consumers were aware of technological innovations such as 3D printing or making purchases through social media (29 percent each).

The last point probably is heavily influenced by age. Younger shoppers are more likely aware of new technology, while older shoppers do not keep up as much with the latest innovations.

Convenience Always Wins

In the end it all boils down to convenience. Any friction that prevents the shopping experience from being fast, easy, and convenient will lead the consumer to find another source.

Increasingly, online retailers have a huge advantage in providing convenience. But SMEs operating online must realize that those factors matter, or they may lose the sale. Just being online isn’t enough!

The overall experience with a brand or retailer is most important to shoppers in determining which to buy from and how often (79 percent each).

Regardless of size, if a consumer is happy to purchase from an online retailer, they will come back to buy more products. Of course a little marketing doesn’t hurt along the way.

What are your thoughts on these findings? Drop us a line in the comments section below.

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