ARLINGTON, VA: The importance of efficient and convenient delivery options in an increasingly competitive global e-commerce market has been emphasised in a new survey that finds consumers will readily abandon purchases if left unsatisfied.

According to Accenture, two-thirds (66%) of consumers report choosing a retailer based on the number of its delivery options and three-quarters (76%) examine a retailer's return policy before completing an order.

The professional services firm polled more than 1,100 small and medium-sized businesses in ten countries, specifically to help delivery and shipping companies retain and gain market share.

Among the key findings identified in the study, entitled "Differentiating Delivery: How to Win the eCommerce Battle", is that organisations need to make effective and reliable delivery options a priority in order to remain competitive.

With delivery impacting on all stages of a consumer's path to purchase, the study revealed good news in that the great majority (83%) of businesses reported being satisfied with their current primary deliver provider, such as firms like UPS or FedEx.

However, an increasing number are turning to online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay to extend their reach and increase revenue, and the study found more than two-thirds (69%) reported earning 41% of their e-commerce revenue through these channels.

"Not only are marketplaces moving into the delivery space, but major retailers are now sidestepping delivery providers in favour of their own services," said Brody Buhler, head of Accenture's global post and parcel business.

"Digital is dramatically blurring the boundaries between eTailers, marketplaces and delivery providers," he added.

In order to keep their customers satisfied, a full 79% of survey respondents said that easy and affordable returns services, coupled with full visibility tracking, are the most important features to offer.

Of particular interest are services that allow customers to determine when they want their packages delivered (69%), notification on the day of delivery (67%), and the ability to co-ordinate delivery directly with the provider, not the e-retailer themselves (68%).

The research also found that consumers want better return option services and they would shop more often with an e-retailer that made it easier to return unwanted goods.

Data sourced from Accenture; additional content from Warc staff