Report Suggests Customer Experience May Trump Free Shipping

Oct 29, 2013 4:20 PM  By

An overwhelming majority of holiday shoppers will respond to retailers’ promotions offering free shipping, and they will ultimately shop with the retailer who can guarantee an on-time delivery date and/or the best shopping experience, according to MarketLive’s annual online retailer survey and recommendations for the 2013 holiday retail season.

Among the consumer trends that online retailers can expect this holiday shopping season:

      • 91% of online shoppers will respond to a promotion that offers free standard shipping
      • 87% will shop with the online retailer who can guarantee an on-time delivery date
      • 72% want to buy or reserve a product online (or via their mobile phone) for pickup, before coming to the store
      • 69% plan to shop online on Cyber Monday (edging out the 68% who plan to shop on Black Friday)
      • 65% of online shoppers still want a traditional gift card/gift certificate to give and rank it the #1 gifting tool
      • 52% want online retailers to have a Wish List or registry where they can find out what others want
      • 38% will be loyal to a retailer because of their loyalty/rewards program; 51% will be loyal because of their customer service; 90% will be loyal because of their prices
      • 31% will pay full price for a gift if they receive free shipping

“Online shoppers have become quite savvy. They know how to comparison shop from their mobile phones and they have come to expect certain things like free shipping,” said Ken Burke, founder and chairman of MarketLive. “But our survey also uncovered many tactical things that online retailers can do this holiday season—like tangible gift cards, 24/7 customer service reps and online ratings and social sharing—to attract customers, retain margins, and compete successfully this holiday season.”

The survey sample included 1,000 consumer questionnaires. The report illustrates consumer survey results with tactical examples drawn from promotional campaigns by Nordstrom, Sport Chalet, Sephora, Cost Plus World Market, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Pottery Barn, REI, Restoration Hardware, Sundance Catalog, Helzberg Diamonds, Amazon, Blue Nile, and Francesca’s.

“This year’s survey underlined the need for retailers to prepare and be able to adapt more than ever for the holiday season,” said Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group, which conducted the survey on MarketLive’s behalf. “Responses clearly demonstrate that online shopping is becoming the norm across all categories – and price and a near-perfect experience are the drivers of conversion.”

  • Alastair

    Instinctively I agree but I don’t see the connection between your headline and your article content. What leads you to conclude that “customer experience may trump free shipping”?

  • Mark

    I agree with Alastair. Perhaps a better headline should read: “Retailers find it easier to give free shipping rather than implement good customer experience”

  • Kim R

    nearly forty years in retail, I agree that price is often THE determining
    factor, but only as long as there is the expectation of on-time delivery and
    product availability. Price will attract many to a new source, but once that
    source fails to deliver sufficiently for the service and availability issues to
    take over, the business is lost. Very often, even with good availably and
    service, the next best priced source is resented because their price isn’t as
    low as the original selection.