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Survey: Shoppers expect omnichannel services

Retailers who introduced features like curbside pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic should plan to keep them long-term.

According to a new survey of 600 U.S. online shoppers from shipping software provider ShipStation, 62% of respondents say they now expect retailers to offer curbside pickup (62%) from now on, and 71% expect buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) to be permanently available. 

More than half of respondents have used curbside (69%) and BOPIS (57%) since the start of the pandemic. In addition, more than four in 10 respondents will be less likely shop with retailers that do not offer BOPIS (44%) or curbside pickup (43%) options indefinitely. 

Online shopping has also grown dramatically during the pandemic. More than three-quarters (77%) of respondents say they are shopping online more as a result of COVID-19, and were 235% more likely to say this when surveyed in April 2021 than at the onset of the pandemic. Seventy percent say they prefer to shop online rather than in stores right now to avoid germs, and 63% are less likely to shop in stores than online due to specific concerns about COVID-19.

Retailers appear to have focused on their online experience as a result, as 82% of respondents said buying online is easier now than one year ago, and 78% said buying online offers a better experience than one year ago.

Other interesting statistics from the survey include:
•    Seventy-one percent of respondents said that they were buying in bulk and/or buying increased volume of products due to accessibility concerns when asked at the pandemic’s onset in March 2020, and 56% are still doing so one year later. 
•    Respondents are 73% more likely to prefer buying apparel and fashion online now than they were before COVID-19.
•    Groceries and furniture are the only two retail verticals in which respondents still prefer to shop in store vs. online today.
•    Two-thirds of respondents expect brands to offer free shipping during COVID-19 to counterbalance slower shipping times.
•    87% of respondents expect retailers to offer extended return windows during the pandemic due to potential shipping delays. 

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