Nearly half of avid US online shoppers bought items from international retailers, demonstrating the need for retailers to offer more personalized services as a way to compete against lower prices, according to the sixth annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ study. The UPS study found that almost all avid U.S. online shoppers (97%), made purchases on marketplaces, up 12 points from 2016, and that 81% cite price as the most important factor when searching for and selecting products online. According to respondents who purchased from an international retailer (47%), 43% were driven by lower prices on US. marketplaces and 36 percent wanted unique products not found from US. retailers.
“The lines that separate domestic and international retailers continue to disappear,” said Alan Gershenhorn, Chief Commercial Officer for UPS. “Retailers are now competing across the globe. In order to win, retailers can distinguish themselves by providing value through personalized experiences.”
Personalized experiences includes the physical store. Many online shoppers find stores important to touch and feel products (59%), solve immediate problems (54%), receive superior customer service (52%), and participate in rewards/loyalty programs (52%). Half of shoppers (50%) have used ship-to-store this year, of whom 44 percent made additional purchases in store, and 41 percent plan to use ship to store more often in the next year.
The use of smartphones continues to be an increasingly important part of the shopping experience online and in physical stores. Eight in ten online shoppers use retailer apps, often preferring apps to websites because of faster speed and a better user experience. The convenience factor is key as “on the go” mobile shoppers seek efficiency at every turn. Mobile coupons (50%) and high-quality product images (50%) are two of the most important app features.
“Online shoppers are able to shop the world’s boutiques and bazaars with ease,” said Gershenhorn. “We’re witnessing a glimpse of the future, when retailers and their customers will be defined less by geographic location and more by how they connect with each other. The challenge is to best provide shoppers with the choice, control and convenience they desire.”
The top considerations that online shoppers make when purchasing from international retailers include clearly stating the total cost of the order including duties and fees (77%), stating all prices in the shopper’s native currency (76%), the retailer being reputable (74%), and reasonable speed of delivery (66%).