What Evolving Online Consumer Expectations Mean for Retailers

Adapted from MyTotalRetail.com

In an effort to help brands and retailers stay on top of consumer mind-sets surrounding the evolving online shopping experience, Dotcom Distribution, a premier provider of B-to-C and B-to-B fulfillment and distribution services, conducts an annual e-commerce consumer survey. The 2019 study explores where brand decisions and consumer behaviors intersect, and how that affects purchase decisions, providing exclusive insight into how shoppers’ expectations have shifted. Subject areas include e-commerce trends, shipping, packaging, sustainability, and how the types of items shoppers purchase can determine their preferences.

The study offers a comprehensive evaluation of online shoppers’ behaviors, preferences and demands, equipping brands and retailers to gauge how to deliver the ideal e-commerce experience, thereby earning customers’ trust and loyalty. The results indicate that consumers respond to a value-driven experience, which can be created by adopting the following strategies.

Streamline Operations

E-commerce, mobile shopping, brick-and-mortar … to customers, it’s all “commerce.” What has evolved is how businesses appeal to customers. Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to having total access to multichannel touchpoints throughout their shopping journey. A strong omnichannel strategy and presence is fundamental to ensuring a unified, seamless shopping experience for the customer (and remaining competitive in this retail climate). Return policies, for example, are now defining online buying behavior. As this trend grows, it remains increasingly important to have a well-defined, well-executed return management strategy. Offering fast, free, easy returns and exchanges — including the option to buy online, return in-store — has a tremendous impact on future purchase decisions.

Optimize Packout Design

For e-commerce brands, product packaging is likely the first physical interaction with a customer. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to packout design, and there truly are endless options. One thing the survey results make clear is that consumers are interested in supporting sustainability. In response, brands must consider making efforts to help create a healthier planet. Sourcing sustainable packaging materials is what one might call a win-win scenario; in addition to making a positive environmental impact, you’re also enhancing brand image and spurring sales.

Be Strategic With Shipping

Some things never change, and it seems that the growing expectation of, and affinity for, free and reliable shipping are two of them. In fact, these are top priorities for online shoppers, and customers today are willing to add more items to their carts to qualify for free shipping. To this end, properly identifying ideal free shipping thresholds is critical, and doing so is likely to boost average order value.

Prioritize Personalization

As a self-proclaimed data geek, probably from my accounting background, I cannot emphasize enough what an important story data tells. In an era when customer personalization is all but mandatory, leveraging behavioral data can help identify the products and offers your customers value and respond to. Drilling down to the individual level may extend beyond the bandwidth of smaller businesses, but trends can be identified at a group level.

Dotcom’s 2019 e-commerce study supports the notion that shopper preferences are reflective of the types of items they buy. For example, participants who confirmed they purchase items from luxury lifestyle brands had seemingly higher standards than other groups. They expect the level of service they receive offline to be duplicated online, including premier unboxing experiences, always-on-time delivery, free and easy returns, and excellent customer service. They also demonstrated a higher level of consideration for sustainability. Identifying unique preferences like these presents a challenge, but more importantly, an opportunity.

To download a free copy of the full study, click here.

Maria Haggerty is CEO and one of the original founders of Dotcom Distribution, a premier provider of B-to-C and B-to-B fulfillment and distribution services.0 CommentsView Comments

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