Use Your Online Shipping Policy as the Hook

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Need an edge over the competition? Offer free online shipping. Better yet, provide a no-hassle return/exchange policy for your online business, and you’re sure to win over shoppers, according to the recently released “Online Shopping Customer Experience Study.” The report—a collaboration between comScore, which measures the digital world and provides digital-marketing intelligence globally, and shipping and business-solutions leader UPS—explores the world of returned items and customer shipping-service preferences.

No. 1: The Returns Policy

Did you know that the majority of online shoppers look at a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase? More specifically, 63% of online shoppers want to know their return/exchange options before making a commitment. These are just a couple of the details released by the report. In addition, nearly half of the survey’s respondents would shop more often and recommend a retailer due to a lenient returns policy. Nevertheless, the survey also revealed that this area also ranks low in terms of customer satisfaction—indicating that online retailers have not yet fully understood the opportunity they have in hooking customers to their brand via their returns/exchange policies.

“The Online Shopping Customer Experience Study provides retailers with the insights needed to enhance the post-purchase online shopping experience, focusing on the factors that lead to customer loyalty and growth,” said Susan Kleinman, comScore director. “While free shipping has tended to dominate the discussion regarding what provides satisfaction to online shoppers, the study shows there are several other factors critical to a positive online shopping experience. Retailers need a holistic understanding of these drivers if they hope to stimulate sales while maintaining healthy margins in this competitive retail environment.”

No. 2: Shipping Service

Once shoppers accept your returns policy, they may still abandon their carts if they’re not satisfied with your store’s delivery-time estimates, reveals the report. At least 42% of online shoppers reported abandoning their shopping carts because of delivery-time estimates. Although about two-thirds of shoppers choose the most inexpensive shipping option, more than 40% look for the two- to three-day delivery service and nearly one-third select overnight shipping. One-third of online shoppers are also willing to pay a fee for faster delivery, and 48% of them are unwilling to wait more than five days for delivery.

Your shipping-services package also should offer tracking capabilities, according to the report. Forty-six percent of respondents said they would recommend an online retailer for receiving their orders when expected. They also want the ability to reroute a package and schedule a two-hour delivery window.

“This is important intelligence that can be put to use immediately,” said Alan Gershenhorn, UPS’ chief sales and marketing officer. “UPS recognized some time ago that online customers are expecting speed, convenience and flexibility after they click to buy. That’s why we’ve developed solutions [that] let consumers control the time and location of delivery.”

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--Manyesha Batist