As the holiday shopping season approaches, retailers will be cheered by a new survey that finds more consumers are making online purchases each week, yet, as sales volumes rise, that presents challenges with customer satisfaction about deliveries.

Pitney Bowes, a company that specialises in finding solutions for e-commerce and shipping, reports that more than a third (35%) of online shoppers worldwide make an online purchase at least weekly.

That figure rises to almost half (46%) of online shoppers in the UK, up from 38% the year before, while 30% of online shoppers in the US make at least one purchase each week, up from just 19% a year ago.

However, the Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Study also finds that 61% of consumers globally felt let down by their online shopping experience during the last holiday season – a significant increase from 47% in 2017 and 41% in 2016.

And the proportion of dissatisfied American online shoppers grew even faster over the past year from 36% a year ago to 56% today.

According to Pitney Bowes, which surveyed more than 13,000 consumers in 12 markets for its report, much of the consumer dissatisfaction stems from their post-purchase experiences.

These include items arriving late, expensive shipping, tracking mistakes, confusing return policies, lost items or the delivery of incorrect ones.

“More and more, consumers are telling us that the post-purchase experience – what happens after the order – is every bit as important, if not more, than the shopping experience that occurs before the order,” said Lila Snyder, president of commerce services at Pitney Bowes.

The study also says that consumers increasingly start to make judgements about the post-purchase experience even before placing their orders, with a full 91% of US online shoppers reporting that they would leave a retail website if services like “fast and free shipping” are not available.

At the same time, consumers are becoming more demanding in their expectations of “fast and free” with only 47% considering two-day free shipping as “fast”.

Globally, three-quarters (76%) of consumers prefer free over fast, but a trend is starting to emerge in the US where shoppers are placing more emphasis on fast delivery than they did before. For example, 79% now prefer free over fast, down from 86% a year ago.

“If there is one finding for retailers to pay attention to, it’s this one: fast and free shipping is a must,” said Snyder.

“Retailers invest millions of dollars in marketing to drive consumers to their e-commerce sites, but all of that expense and effort is for naught if they don’t also invest in attractive fast and free shipping offers that meet consumer expectations.”

Sourced from Pitney Bowes; additional content by WARC staff