Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Study Finds Attractive Market Driven by a More Demanding, Frequent and Global Online Shopper
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Press release from the issuing company
STAMFORD, Conn. - Pitney Bowes, a global technology company providing innovative products and solutions to power commerce, today released the 2017 Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Study – the first study to comprehensively analyze the global ecommerce landscape from both a retailer and consumer perspective. The study is based on survey results of 1,200 retailers from eight countries and 12,000 consumers from 12 global markets.
As retailers prepare for the upcoming holiday shopping season, the study offers a detailed portrait of trends impacting online retailers and consumers around the globe. Some of the study’s most interesting findings are summarized below:
For many online shoppers, 2016 was a holiday to forget…
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail sales in the US alone increased 3.6% year-over-year during the 2016 holiday shopping season and are expected to increase between 3.6% and 4% this year. But, results of the 2017 Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Study reveal that retailers still have a long way to go toward meeting consumer expectations, particularly when it comes to the post-purchase experience for online shoppers.
Nearly half (47%) of online shoppers globally reported frustration with everything from shipping, to returns, to lost products and miscalculated duties and taxes during the 2016 holiday shopping season. What’s worse is that the number of unhappy online holiday shoppers rose six percentage points (pp) over the previous year and increased year-over-year in every single one of the 12 major markets surveyed. Shoppers in Asia Pacific – particularly India (73%), Hong Kong (69%) China (64%) and South Korea (58%) – reported the most challenges. In the US, 36% of online shoppers experienced problems, up five pp from the previous year.
“As consumers become more experienced with online shopping, they’re shifting more of their holiday spend online and expecting better and better service from retailers,” said Lila Snyder, Executive Vice President and President, Global Ecommerce and Presort Services, Pitney Bowes. “Online shoppers have an entire global marketplace at their fingertips. They expect that there is always a way to get the product they want, shipped where they want, when they want it. This creates both opportunities and challenges for retailers.”
Snyder continued, “With even more purchases expected to be online this year, retailers need to double-down on the elements of the consumer experience that matter most – delivery, returns, tracking and world-class customer care.”
A more experienced, demanding, frequent and global online shopper
This includes in-store pickups (“click-and-collect”), shipping to locations other than the buyer’s home, returning unwanted purchases in-store, and returning unwanted purchases using pre-paid shipping labels.
“Click-and-collect” – purchasing online and picking up in store – is now common practice for 40% of global online shoppers, up from 28% the previous year. In the US alone, this option is exercised by 46% of online shoppers versus 27% in the previous year. The practice is most common in Hong Kong where 69% “click-and-collect.”
Online shoppers increasingly prefer online marketplaces over retailer websites
Retailers are beginning to recognize the growth opportunity in cross-border ecommerce. Business plans reveal a tipping point may be on the horizon.
Credit cards versus e-wallets – a dead heat…
“It is important that cross-border retailers focus on the consumers they are trying to reach; not necessarily the consumers they are most used to dealing with,” said Snyder. “That goes for developing their strategies around payment options and just about every aspect of their global ecommerce business.”
Three strategies for online retailers:
1. Take a cue (or two) from marketplaces.
a. Learn to love shipping. Low cost, fast, flexible and accurate shipping is key to attracting and retaining customers.
b. Personalize to convert: Implement customer information management solutions that aggregate a single view of the customer.
c. Expand your product assortment, offer timely promotions, and simplify checkout.
2. Go cross-border, but don’t rely on brand alone.
a. Localized marketing is essential because marketing channel preferences among consumers vary significantly by country.
b. Operational prowess separates the winners from the losers. This is particularly true in neighboring countries. The expectation is low cost and high visibility of delivery, localized customer care, and minimized duties and taxes.
3. Have the courage to go where the customers are.
a. When retailers implement cross-border strategies, they tend to start where the transition is easiest – neighboring countries with similar regulatory environments where people speak the same language. But, more often than not, the greatest opportunity for cross-border growth and success is further from home. Pitney Bowes’ analysis has found that the prioritization of near-border markets has come at the expense of underserving consumers in countries more apt to shop cross-border. Entering new markets with different cultures, languages and laws is complex, but the rewards can far outweigh the investment and challenges.
The 2017 Global Ecommerce Study is the latest industry research report from Pitney Bowes. Earlier this year, Pitney Bowes released its annual Parcel Shipping Index, which tracks international growth rates of parcel shipping volumes and related expenditures. The index forecasts a 20% increase in global parcel volumes in 2018.
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