Merchant Innovation

Online Shopping Produces In-Store Sales

A new study released by UPS shows that the engaged customer, who are often driven by mobile technology, play a key role in the future of the retail industry. The study also showed that online shopping actually encourages more shoppers to visit, and shop in stores.

The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, which was based on a comScore survey of 5,118 U.S. online shoppers, evaluates consumer shopping habits from pre-purchase to post-delivery, and concluded that online shoppers want an alternative delivery locations. It also concluded that despite the draw toward digital shopping, consumers are still shopping at small shops, and still shopping local.

As online shoppers become savvier, the study also reveals that retailers must do more to stay competitive. This includes investing in mobile features, flexible shipping options and hassle-free returns. The study also showed that consumers research more when it comes to purchasing decisions and are increasingly influenced by social media, and free shipping continues to drive purchasing decisions.

"The future of retail is driven by ever increasingly sophisticated and savvy shoppers who research at home and in a store, but more are turning to mobile as capabilities improve for online product display and promotion," said Alan Gershenhorn, UPS executive vice president and chief commercial officer. "They also want more flexibility and alternate delivery options."

He noted that UPS' Access Point Network and UPS My Choice work to fill those needs by providing consumers more control and flexibility with their home deliveries.

Some key points from the study that indicate what consumers want out of their commerce experience include:

  • 93 percent of consumers still shop at small retailers: 61 percent because these locations because they offer unique products; 49 percent because they couldn't find what they needed from traditional stores; 40 percent wanted to support the small business community.
  • 40 percent of consumers have bought from retailers based outside of the U.S; 49 percent of those reported they did so to find better prices; 35 percent did so because the goods couldn't be found in the U.S.
  • Online shoppers often change retail channels for: better prices (57 percent) and selection (49 percent). 48 percent of online shoppers have used ship to store in the past year; 45 percent of those have made an additional purchase when picking up their online purchase.
  • Even when consumers shop online, they often return in store. 39 percent of consumers make returns prefer to ship the product back, but 61percent said they prefer to return in store. In-store returns often lead to more purchases, as 70 percent of consumers purchase more when they return online; only 42 percent who return online make a purchase during that process.
  • 41 percent of consumers use their smartphones for research; 30 percent use them for purchases.
  • 38 percent of consumers who have a mobile device don't use it to make purchases product images are not large or clear enough; 30 percent said it's too hard to compare products.
  • 43 percent said they often discover new products on social media site, with Facebook being the most popular channel.
  • When it comes to digital commerce, 33 percent of consumers said they would embrace electronic shelf labels; 29 percent said they will consider mobile checkout; 27 percent said they are open to using touch screens to receive information, make purchases and arrange deliveries.
  • When it comes to free shipping, 77 percent said that free shipping option is the most important factor at checkout; 60 percent of consumers have added items to their to hit a shipping minimum threshold.
  • 48 percent of online shoppers said they ship items to store, and 45 percent of those consumers made more purchases when they picked up in stores.
  • 62 percent of consumers say they are satisfied with the online return process; 67 percent said they review a retailer's return policy before making a purchase; 66 percent want free return shipping; 58 percent want a "hassle-free" experience; 47 percent want an easy-to-print return label.
  • When it comes to alternative deliveries, 33 percent prefer to deliver to locations outside their home; 32 percent want it shipping to another retail location when the consumer is not home to sign for a package.

For more on the impact of digital and other innovations in the retail industry, join PYMNTS this August 3-5 in Chicago for Retail Reinvention, a two-day experience designed to help merchants navigate the current and future wave of disruption across the retail payment and commerce landscape.

Click here to reserve your spot today!



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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