Free shipping helps win over customers

When they buy local.

There are a growing number of Australian consumers adding items to their cart to meet the minimum order total to receive free shipping, according to research from BigCommerce, with 4 out of 5 consumers making a purchase from a retailer due to free shipping.

Comparatively, half of the consumers surveyed (51%) stated that they have stopped shopping with an online retailer due entirely, or in part, to a negative shipping experience. Nearly three-quarters (71%) made the decision not to purchase something online because they didn’t like the available shipping options.

“As online shopping continues to increase in popularity, there’s a growing importance being placed on the shipping stage of the customer purchase journey,” BigCommerce vice president and general manager APAC, Shannon Ingrey said.

He attributes this to consumers vying for instant gratification and wanting quick access to online purchases, in combination with the rapidly growing ecommerce space forcing retailers to compete on cost and shipping options, and an increasing number of traditional brick and mortar stores moving online.

So why is shipping such a vital part of the online shopping experience?

“More consumers are starting to view shipping as an expansion of the brand they’re buying from, as it’s one of the only physical touchpoints they can have with an online retailer. Therefore, it’s imperative that brands select the right shipping options and providers that align with their brand’s ethos and give consumers the experience they desire,” Ingrey said.

“Consumers are able to purchase online from all around the world, which puts higher demands on shipping. As competition increases it is more important than ever that customer experience is prioritised and shipping is a key part of that overall customer experience.

“Although it’s evident that Aussie consumers have high expectations of shipping, according to our report, more than two-thirds (70%) are more lenient with delivery timelines when ordering from an international brand.

“If brands want to retain customers, they need to think proactively about how to offer customers the best and the easiest shopping experience possible.”

This means merchants need to make the effort to understand what customers want from the brand, instead of relying on assumptions.

“Focusing on social media allows brands to directly interact with an existing community of consumers – it’s a great way to see in real-time, what customers are saying about your brand, their experience and to build long-term relationships.

“However, brands should also be looking to engage with their loyal customers across additional platforms. This can be done through VIP programs, email or in-person events to stay connected with their customers — even when they’re not shopping.”

Aside from shipping, Ingrey said it is important for brands to have an easy-to-use, customer-friendly website that encourages customers to browse, explore and easily purchase products.

“To make online shopping more customer-centric, the checkout process must be simple. We’ve seen an increasing number of customers abandoning items in their carts solely because the checkout process is overly complicated.

“Whether a customer is providing their email or delivery address, having systems set up which allows these fields to auto-populate makes it easier and more efficient for customers to complete the process.

“All costs, including taxes and shipping, need to be displayed to a customer before they lock in the purchase. This will reduce any chance of customer dissatisfaction from any potential unexpected charges.

“These seem like simple solutions, but with the number of ecommerce platforms on the rise, it’s essential brands get these steps right to encourage repeat purchases, customer loyalty — and to ensure they stand out from their competitors.”

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