Shipping is the ‘Achilles heel’ of online retailers

Consumers are continuing on their steady march to shop online – over the 2015 Christmas period 71% of consumers reported doing more than half of their shopping online- a huge increase from 2013, when only 45% said the same. And they spent more money than traditional shoppers- UK consumers spent an average of £292 compared to £170 in-store, according to the latest piece of research from Wipro Digital.

It's no surprise that more and more consumers are buying online for greater convenience, better prices and ease of use. But even online, retailers who also have a bricks and mortar store are losing out to internet pure-plays. Figures would suggest that they are having difficulty delivering on the benefits of omni-channel retailing, with 44% of UK shoppers doing more than half their online shopping on these sites.

> See also: Getting a slice of the e-commerce opportunity in China

Even when consumers browse both online and in a store, the survey said that 34% chose to go back online to make their purchase. So what are omni-channel retailers doing wrong?

‘There is no doubt consumers are interacting with brands across both the online and in-store channels,' said Avinash Rao, Wipro Digital's global head. 'But omnichannel retailers are missing a big opportunity to capture the 1/3 of consumers who say they are researching in store but leave to buy online.'

One area where online-only retailers could be missing a trick is in shipping. Shipping costs associated with online shopping are a major concern for consumers, according to the research. Nearly half of the consumers hope not to pay shipping charges next year – the most important change consumers expect in the 2015 holiday season. In addition, 16% of UK online shoppers did not receive their purchases in time for the holiday.

> See also: The changing face of e-commerce: are online service vendors ready?

'Shipping is the Achilles' heel of online shopping,' explained Rao. 'If online pure plays are unable to offer free shipping on every order and consumers worry that they will not receive their purchases in-time, bricks and mortar retailers may be able to regain some of their lost customers next year.'

To counter the trend of consumers increasing their shopping with pure play online retailers, Rao says bricks and mortar retailers should focus on customer interactions and the benefits of the physical store.

'Online pure play retailers are succeeding as they understand customer expectations and are exceptionally good at delivering against them,' he said. 'Omni-channel retailers need to invest more in understanding and improving the customer experience journey to entice shoppers to spend more with them in-store. Customer journey engineering as an approach to understanding, designing and delivering relevant and differentiated customer experiences across all channels and touch points will help retailers reverse the trend and avoid a future when consumers are no longer visiting their stores.'

Avatar photo

Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

Related Topics