UPS Pulse of the Global Online Shopper: low appetite for paying for shipping

The 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study captured evolving trends, preferences and expectations of online shoppers in 15 countries and regions, including the US, Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and, for the first time, India. This latest Pulse study examined the generational impact that Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers are having on retail trends, offering retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers intelligence that can help them grow and compete globally.

The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study evaluates consumer shopping habits from pre-purchase to post-delivery. The study was conducted in early 2019 and is based on a PwC survey of more than 18,000 online shoppers worldwide.

Customer research

The critical customer experience begins with research. Ninety percent of customers research items before purchasing them online, while younger generations are most likely to be influenced by customer reviews. Ninety-five percent of all buyers expect to see all shipping fees and taxes totaled before they’ll complete the purchase.
Online shoppers want to feel valued and be rewarded. As a result, about one in five (19%) of consumers have more than five loyalty memberships. Reasons for joining include free shipping, members-only discounts and rewards points.


Meanwhile, online marketplaces like Amazon remain popular. Ninety-six percent of online shoppers have used a marketplace, while 36% of consumers worldwide intend to purchase more on marketplaces in the next 12 months. Worldwide, 48% of consumers buy items impulsively on marketplaces.

Accelerated delivery options, for free

Shoppers still want choice and convenience, but they’d rather not pay for it. Delivery speed is negotiable. Respondents like next-day deliveries, but they will consider other options – such as lower fees or incentives – for slower shipping. Millennial shoppers are more likely to choose accelerated delivery options than other age groups. Allowing shoppers to control their customer experience by owning the decision between cost and speed of delivery empowers and engages, potentially creating brand loyalty.

Online shoppers show a very low appetite for paying for shipping. Delivery costs are the number one reason for abandoning the cart. That’s why they’ll take various actions to obtain free shipping, including adding items to the cart (36%), choosing the slowest transit time (32%) and searching online for a promo code (32%). Fifty-six percent of online shoppers track deliveries.  Customers don’t have to settle any more for less-than-optimal control over the delivery experience.

Returns are key to creating return customers

Returning products remains a key demand for online shoppers, with 73% of surveyed consumers responding that the returns experience affected whether they would continue shopping with a retailer.  Consumers globally (about 85%) strongly feel a retailer should pay for the return of a wrong or faulty or poor quality item, an item that didn’t match or live up to its online presentation or an item that arrived later than promised.

Globally, 36% of online shoppers returned an item in the previous three months. Globally, about two-out-of-three shoppers (63%) ship returns back to sellers/retailers. This method is the most popular in Europe and Asia-Pacific (APAC), where 67% of shoppers ship their returns. Meanwhile, the main reason cited for poor returns experience is a delay in getting a refund (25%). Having to pay for a return annoys a significant percentage of consumers (24%), as does a delay in receiving an exchange or a replacement item (21%).

Source: UPS

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