Business Technology

The importance of delivery options in the purchase decision making process

7 min read

17 November 2015

Deputy Editor, Real Business

Today’s consumers expect online retailers to provide convenient and personalised product delivery options to accommodate their busy lifestyle needs. As such, Real Business talked to MetaPack's Kees de Vos about how a company's delivery options needed to change depending on country and target audience.

The findings of the recent MetaPack “Delivering Consumer Choice: 2015 State of ecommerce Delivery” survey highlighted the increasingly crucial role that delivery options play in influencing which retailer a consumer chooses to shop with, and their long-term loyalty.

Kees de Vos, chief product officer at MetaPack, answered some key questions about the survey’s results.

How many people did the company survey and do consumers in different countries respond similarly? 

We conducted the survey online with 3,000 respondents across the UK, US, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Delivery preferences actually vary a lot across different countries, but they all cited “home delivery” as their favourite, followed by “collect in store”, which was most popular with UK (47 per cent) and US (33 per cent) shoppers. 

Home delivery proved so popular that 90 per cent of survey respondents had used it in the last six months. Delivery to a local shop or pick-up point was a popular choice with French shoppers (48 per cent) yet just 17 per cent of US consumers chose to use this option. When asked about requesting delivery to a place of work, 14 per cent of Spanish and 12 per cent of German shoppers had used it. Despite the growing interest in delivery to lockers, this was the least popular option, with most shoppers across Europe and the US – apart from 20 per cent of consumers in Germany, who said they used lockers in the last six months.

How important is it to consumers that they get a wide range of delivery options?

Some 66 per cent confirmed they’ve bought goods from one retailer in preference to another because the delivery options on offer were more appealing – with 49 per cent saying they’d been happy to pay more for a better or more convenient delivery option. This is significant because retailers focusing solely on making changes to front-end website capabilities are missing out on an increasingly obvious and more significant opportunity to drive conversion – providing delivery services that meet each customer’s personal, complex demands.

What will consumers do if they don’t see delivery options? 

They won’t hesitate to abandon shopping baskets! Over half of shoppers said they’d failed to complete an online order due to poor delivery options, citing, among other reasons, that delivery could not be guaranteed by a certain date (30 per cent) or would take too long to fulfil (44 per cent). 

In terms of what they wanted from online retailers, 83 per cent said they wanted delivery options displayed clearly on the product page itself. And when it came to convenience, 86 per cent of shoppers wanted fast delivery and 83 per cent said they expected a guaranteed delivery date. A further 80 per cent went on to say they also expected a dedicated time slot to be given.

Does this demand extend to return options too?

Yes, 76 per cent of shoppers viewed a retailer’s return options before placing an order, with 51 per cent saying they had failed to proceed with a purchase because the returns process offered was not easy or convenient for them.

How do these online consumers react if they have a negative delivery experience? 

This can actually turn shoppers off using a retailer again. Some 51 per cent of Spanish consumers said they would never shop with a retailer again following a poor experience and they are the most likely to broadcast their displeasure via social media; 52 per cent of Spanish respondents had used social media to share a less than positive experience. Similarly, German (49 per cent), UK (49 per cent) and Dutch (47 per cent) shoppers would never use a retailer again following a bad delivery experience.

By comparison just 36 per cent of French shoppers and 38 per cent of US consumers would elect to withdraw their loyalty from a retailer. The age of the shopper was also important – of the shoppers aged between 18 and 26, almost half (49 per cent) said they would abandon a retailer if they had a negative experience.

What about the influence of social media?

It’s very important, particularly amongst the youngest cohort, the Millennials. They are more likely than any other age group to be influenced by social media when shopping online. They are tech-savvy and will hunt out peer reviews about which retailers to avoid, with 61 per cent saying a bad review about delivery on social media would influence their decision whether or not to shop with a retailer. 

No surprise then that, compared to other online shoppers, they’re more likely to use social media to broadcast their displeasure at a negative delivery experience. What’s more, they’re more successful at leveraging social media to elicit a retailer response; 28 per cent of Millennials received a goods refund following a social media complaint, while 22 per cent had been given a voucher or discount.

Given the survey results, how would you advise online retail businesses?

After the costs of the products businesses sell, delivery is the second biggest area of expenditure for ecommerce operations, and it is also an important way to differentiate from the competition. The survey shows how important delivery options are to consumers, so retailers must strike a balance between providing customers with a raft of delivery choices and ensuring that systems and processes can meet the delivery promises being made.