On-time delivery, availability are still high on holiday shoppers' lists

84% of shoppers are concerned about packages arriving on time in 2022, Loqate holiday survey finds.

brown gift box
Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

In ecommerce, the path to a sale starts with marketing and a great customer experience that communicates how a brand intends to serve a customer. But when it comes to delighting customers and building loyalty, it’s the brands that follow through with their commitments that really deliver.

As peak season gets underway in 2022, considerations like free shipping, on-time delivery and product availability are continuing to rise on shoppers’ lists, according to the results of a recent holiday survey from location intelligence service Loqate.

“Consumers continue to become more demanding and sophisticated with their delivery expectations. Retailers face the very real risk of losing a customer forever if they let them down,” said Matthew Furneaux, the director of location intelligence at Loqate and a retail and ecommerce expert who has worked with Nordstrom, Sephora, Kohl’s, Ralph Lauren and Michaels through his role.

These rising expectations are the result of two years of change in retail that is reshaping how people shop going forward.

In 2020, ecommerce became more widespread with the onset of the pandemic, leading shoppers to become more comfortable with not just the convenience of ordering from a mobile phone and the selection offered by the web, but also the tools embedded in online shopping experiences. Now, delivery guarantees and package tracking are checklist items for what a consumer wants from a retailer, right alongside the product details and reviews.

In 2021, supply chain backups made consumers more aware than ever of the processes that bring packages to their door. Global shipping issues may have mostly resolved this year, but people don't just forget what they learned, and how it impacted them. As a result, shoppers now may be more apt to consider whether items are in stock, and delivery times.

These factors are shaping how shoppers plan out their holiday shopping in 2022. According to Loqate’s survey, 87% of consumers globally plan to start shopping before December, showing that many plan to get an early jump on the season to address these concerns.

In doing so, they are picking the brands and retailers that they know will be able to provide the items that they want. In America, 52% of consumers report that availability of products impacts their loyalty to a brand or retailer.

“As we all live more of our day to day lives online, many consumers are prepared to extend high levels of loyalty to brands that can meet their needs in a timely way,” Furneaux said. “And in the era of one-touch, next day or even same day delivery, our expectation of stock availability has never been greater. Retailers should be leveraging the power of location intelligence solutions to ensure that inventory is where it needs to be, in relation to their customer locations, to optimize the purchase experience.”

Matthew FurneauxMatthew Furneaux. (Courtesy photo)

At the same time, shoppers want to ensure they will receive items when retailers say they will deliver them. The survey found that 84% of shoppers are concerned about packages arriving on time. This can be make-or-break, as many aren't willing to give second chances after late deliveries. To be sure, it can be a matter of generational expectations, as 46% of Baby Boomers are unlikely to purchase from a retailer after a late delivery. Meanwhile, it’s only a deciding factor for 38% of Gen X, 28% of Millennials and 29% of Gen Z. The point is that delivery is an area that is closely watched by consumers, even though it comes after a sale is already made.

A customer's worries can be addressed on the frontend of a purchase, Furneaux said. Retailers can enhance their checkout with tools such as address auto-complete.

“The good news is that online brands can mitigate many of the risks associated with late or failed delivery by ensuring accurate address and location data is quickly and efficiently captured in the checkout,” Furneaux said. “Even if consumers wish to use their preferred digital wallet, it’s still vital to ensure the address for that particular purchase, especially if it's a gift, is accurate.”

In the end, these data points all offer a reminder that the details are important. This year, inflation is getting the headlines as the force that is shaping holiday shopping, and discounts will surely be a factor in an environment that is expected to be exceptionally promotional. But the back-end of a purchase can matter just as much as the front-end offers that pull them in. Loqate’s survey found that 18% of consumers consider free shipping to be the most important factor in a purchase, while promotions and discounts were at the top of the list for 17% of shoppers.

It’s going to be a unique year, but shoppers are carrying the experiences of the last two with them. Nail the basics and meet their expectations, and it’s an opportunity to build relationships that last beyond this season.
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