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Survey: Here’s how to satisfy unhappy holiday shoppers

Six in 10 online holiday shoppers are dissatisfied, but they don’t have to be.

According to the annual Online Shopping Study from Pitney Bowes, the 60% of respondents who are dissatisfied with their holiday shopping experience is almost double the percentage from just four years ago. The study also found that the more often you shop, the more likely you are to be frustrated. 

Seventy-three percent of frequent online shoppers (those who shop online daily, or weekly) and 74% of millennials said they were disappointed in some aspect of the post-purchase experience during the 2018 holiday season. The top three reasons for consumer frustration are delayed shipments; shipping costs; and inaccurate tracking.

For online retailers looking to satisfy shoppers this holiday season, the study reveals free shipping remains the number one loyalty driver an online retailer can offer consumers. When given the choice between “free” shipping or “fast” shipping” 80% choose “free,” consistent with data Pitney Bowes has collected in each of the past three years. Free shipping was four times more likely to drive consumer loyalty than any other feature that a retailer could offer.

In addition to fast and free shipping, consumers want a free and easy returns process and fast refunds. Fifty-one percent of all online shoppers, including 66% of millennials, now admit to “bracketing” – purchasing multiple sizes, styles and colors of an item with the intent to return what they don’t want. 

Seventy-two percent said they “love” when a return label is included in the package, while 70% said they “hate” paying for return shipping even more than missing the returns period and getting stuck with an unwanted item. Furthermore, 66% of respondents said they “love” home pick-up for returns. Home pick-up is three times more popular than carrier drop-off and four times more popular than in-store drop-off. When home pick-up of a return is not offered by a retailer, consumers admit to compounding the delays by taking, on average, four more days to transport their item from their home to the carrier or store.

Other common returns- and shipping-related complaints included:
•    Taking too long to get a refund after returning an item (64%);
•    Inconvenient returns process (60%);
•    Having to pay for shipping (47%).

For the second year in a row, nearly nine out of 10 respondents said that they will make a complaint or take an action that could hurt a brand’s reputation and bottom line following a bad post-purchase experience. Among those, nearly one-third said a bad post-purchase experience is cause for never shopping with the offending brand again.

The 2019 Pitney Bowes Online Shopping Study is based on survey results of more than 8,000 consumers globally, including 3,000 US consumers, ages 18 and up.

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