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Consumers will keep shopping online, especially for one feature

A new survey indicates retailers that want to capture share of a growing e-commerce market should provide one key option.

Results of a consumer survey from on-demand fulfillment platform Ware2Go, a UPS company, reveal that 79% of respondents increased their online shopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, 89% of respondents plan to do as much or more of their shopping online, even as restrictions on in-person shopping ease. And almost one-third (31%) say they have an urge to spend now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing.

The survey results also indicate that fast, free shipping has very real impact on customer decisions on where to shop online. When asked what retailers can do to entice them to shop more, 54% of respondents said free shipping, while 42% said one-to-two-day shipping (42%).
In addition 80% of respondents are more likely to make a purchase online if the brand offers free shipping, and 75% are more likely to make a purchase if the brand offers shipping in two days or less. More than three-quarters (79%) of respondents say they are more likely to purchase from a brand again if the shipping was fast. Almost seven in 10 (69%) are more likely to click on an ad that offers fast, free shipping.

One-third of respondents say the pandemic raised their expectations for timely shipping, and 40% say it increased their expectations for free shipping. Although curbside pickup boomed during the pandemic, a majority of respondents only chose this option out of immediate necessity (54%) or if shipping was too expensive (40%). In fact, twice as many survey respondents preferred one-to-two-day shipping as preferred curbside pickup.

Almost nine in 10 respondents (88%) also said sustainability is an important consideration for purchasing decisions, and two-thirds (66%) said it has become more important as a result of the pandemic. More than half (55%) of respondents are willing to pay extra for sustainable shipping, and two-thirds (66%) are more likely to purchase from a brand with carbon-neutral shipping if the product and shipping costs are the same.

When asked about what sustainable practices are most important in retailers, almost half (47%) of respondents said recycled packaging. This was followed by eco-friendly shipping protocols (41%), carrying green brands (30%), promoting conversations about sustainability on social media (30%), and partnerships with green organizations (27%). 

Other interesting findings include:
•    The top five product categories Americans are most likely to purchase in-store instead of online are groceries, clothing, cleaning products, furniture, and nutritional supplements.
•    During the pandemic, one in five respondents preferred to keep items they were unhappy with instead of returning them, and 44% were reliant on some form of airmail to handle their returns.

A survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults was conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of Ware2Go in May 2021.

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