September 30, 2023

Online shopping takes lead over brick-and-mortar stores in holiday season upset

Online shopping has finally eclipsed brick-and-mortar store browsing as the most popular holiday gift-buying option this year, according to recent research from project44. While this shift in consumer preferences has been happening for years, it still presents a unique set of challenges for shippers.

“For the first time, a majority (51%) of consumers plan to do most of their seasonal shopping online,” said Eric Fullerton, senior director of product marketing at project44. “Retailers must ensure that their supply chains are equipped for this continual shift.”

In light of today’s soft economic conditions and high inflation rates, companies should have plans in place for providing standout service without blowing their own budgets going into peak season.

While this new data represents a seminal moment in the shift to online shopping, this momentum will continue. Retailers must be prepared to deliver more goods to consumers’ doorsteps while ensuring they are meeting consumer expectations without compromising their own operations and bottom line.

project44 polled more than 1,000 North American shoppers for its 2023 Peak Season Consumer Survey. The results not only illuminated changing shopping preferences, they also pointed to growing consumer demands surrounding delivery times and shipping prices.

“As expected, on-time delivery remains the expectation for consumers, but interestingly, they aren’t willing to shell out more for it,” Fullerton said. “Sixty-five percent of consumers aren’t willing to pay extra for guaranteed on-time delivery, leaving e-commerce companies responsible for balancing customer satisfaction with their own inflationary costs.”

Finding that balance starts at the checkout page, according to Fullerton. Retailers should set realistic customer expectations by providing precise delivery dates before a customer ever hits the “purchase” button.

From there, brands should prioritize keeping customers up to date with real-time insights into the location and status of their orders. Today’s consumers expect this level of visibility, and failing to provide it can create anxiety for the consumer and extra phone calls for overextended customer service representatives.

“Modern consumers expect visibility into their order, with 6 in 10 checking their order status once a day,” Fullerton said.

project44 can assist companies in providing those status updates via its configurable branded tracking pages and branded alerts, which combine project44’s powerful last-mile data set with a highly flexible drag and drop user experience that allows e-commerce and marketing teams to create fully customized tracking pages and alerts in minutes.

While setting expectations and providing user-facing updates can differentiate a brand from the beginning, companies should also be continuously analyzing performance and working to diversify their carrier networks on the back end. These efforts ensure that those consumer expectations are being met — or exceeded — as often as possible.

When shippers partner with project44, they gain access to invaluable insights — including click-to-delivery, carrier on-time performance metrics and delivered by promised date percentages — that can be leveraged to improve last-mile performance.

Through a combination of these efforts, companies can provide a customer experience that shoppers will be apt to remember long after the holiday season has ended.

Click here to learn more about how project44 can position your company to stand out this peak season.  

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