Auctane (credit image/PIxabay/TaWiPoP)A new study by Auctane suggests that 73% of US consumers blend online research, physical store visits, and options like buy-online-pickup-in-store or in-store returns before making purchase decisions. ShipStation and Retail Economics’ research highlight the modern customer journey. The research outlines the growing importance of omnichannel strategies and where retailers may be falling short of new consumer expectations.

(credit image/LinkedIn/Albert Ko)
Albert Ko, CEO of Auctane

“For retailers, the pressure to be everywhere their customers are has never been greater,” said Albert Ko, CEO of Auctane. Auctane is the parent company of ShipStation. “Due to increased choice and tighter wallets, consumers are more selective about the brands they shop with. They will settle for nothing less than a unified experience across websites, physical storefronts, marketplace channels, and social media.”

“Seamless integration across all these touchpoints – alongside an on-time, right-price product delivery – is no longer optional. It is essential for survival,” Ko continued. “With this report, we aim to support retailers with the information they need to navigate this shift. To implement omnichannel strategies, and achieve sustainable growth.”

Key findings include:

Physical touchpoints take centre stage: The report reveals $448 billion in online sales across the US and Canada are dependent on physical touchpoints. This includes in-store browsing, buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), or in-person returns – accounting for 41% of total online sales in these regions.

Social media and AI emerge as the new search engine: Globally, consumers under the age of 45 are nearly four times likely to report researching products on social media compared to older generations. A quarter of surveyed US consumers were open to using AI-powered chatbots to research products before making a purchase.

Fast and free delivery landscape: Regardless of where they discovered a product, consumers still expect fast and affordable deliveries for online purchases. 60% of those surveyed expect free shipping to take two days or less. This is a speed only one-fourth of surveyed retailers in the US and Canada currently provide. More than half of all surveyed retailers cite rising shipping costs as the main threat to their performance. A net balance of 34% of respondents plan to increase delivery charges in 2024. This was up from 28% a year ago.

Returns remain a complex issue: Convenient returns are important to consumers. However, printing out a shipping label and dropping a return off with a carrier holds little appeal. 80% of surveyed US consumers prefer alternative return means. This include having a parcel service pick up their return from their home, using third-party drop-off locations (such as kiosks or lockers), or visiting the physical store of the brand to make a return. Meanwhile, only a fifth (19%) of surveyed retailers offer out-of-home returns options.
The report goes beyond outlining behaviours. It uncovers opportunities for businesses to combine digital and physical touchpoints to improve their omnichannel presence and ultimately grow businesses.

Research Methodology:

Consumer surveys were undertaken by Retail Economics in November 2023. It included answers from a sample of more than 8,000 nationally representative consumers. In addition to 800 Auctane customers surveyed, across the UK, US, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Canada and Australia.

Enterprise Times: What this means for business.

Calming the Channel Chaos – The state of omnichannel selling and logistics in 2024 is an interesting report. Good shipping experiences leave a lasting impact with consumers. Today’s consumers want faster, cheaper, and more transparent shipping practices. Research from ShipStation and Retail Economics reveals the power behind eCommerce experiences that blend physical storefronts, social media, and AI.

As a result, retail brands face a challenge to differentiate in a competitive field. Success hinges on mastering an increasingly complex customer journey where online and offline intertwine. Consumer loyalty is fluid, and expectations around delivery have reached new heights. Today’s consumers demand not only a seamless purchasing process but also swift, reliable delivery services and hassle-free returns. Increasingly consumers show little tolerance for delays or complications. Omnichannel’ had evolved from a buzzword a decade ago, to the basis of modern retailing in 2024. The report explores at how omnichannel retail is evolving, the complexity of consumer behaviour flows within the customer journey. It also explores the key shopper personas for 2024.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here