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More Consumers Prefer Online Shopping

Once online shoppers get the bug, they’re hooked.

Seventy percent of more than 3,000 online shoppers surveyed in February say they prefer to shop their favorite retailer online, according to a study commissioned by United Parcel Service Inc. The study is to be released later Monday.

Half the smartphone owners in the group and nearly 60% of the tablet owners use those devices to make purchases. Rather than fret about privacy, a majority (60% who had the technological capability), said they wanted to receive retail deals and promotions on the phones and tablets, based on their location or transaction history.

These findings come from the second annual Pulse of the Online Shopper Survey conducted by the data analysis firm comScore. UPS, the Atlanta-based logistics and package delivery giant, will use the findings to advise its retail and e-tail customers. Many of the findings illustrate the ways in which the back-end of the online shopping experience—the shipping and delivery–can be used to boost sales.

For instance: while customer satisfaction with online shopping generally was high—83% overall—the lowest satisfaction scores had to do with factors related to shipping and delivery. Flexibility to choose a delivery date; to choose a delivery time; to reroute a package or to choose an environmentally friendly shipping option—ranked last in satisfaction when shoppers were asked to rate different aspects of the online shopping experience. Online shoppers want more choices, according to the survey.

Online shopping continues to outpace growth in traditional retail, the survey confirms. Last year, e-commerce grew about 15% to $186 billion, seven times the growth rate of total U.S. retail spending, according to the study. In the fourth quarter last year, retail e-commerce reached 10% of all discretionary spending for the first time ever, according to comScore.
Among some of the new findings: Shoppers increasingly want what’s called a “seamless omnichannel experience,” meaning one in which retailers allow them to combine online and brick and mortar browsing, shopping, ordering and returning in whatever combo they would like. In fact, that is so important that 62% said they are more likely to choose to shop with a retailer that allows them to buy an item online and return it to a store.

Forty-four percent said the opposite: They are more likely to buy online if they can pick up at the store. While this saves them shipping costs, it is good for retailers; more than one-third (38%) buy extra items while in the store, according to the survey.

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