Royal Mail delivery report 2013

A few weeks ago, the new Royal Mail delivery report for 2013 was released, which is a report looking at customer buying habits and behaviours, to help companies, brands and marketeers understand the needs of online shoppers and what they want from home shopping.

In April 2013, 1053 people were asked to fill out the survey, representing the average UK online shopper. The questions looked at how they felt about online shopping, what would and wouldn’t make them go back to an online retailer and how they felt about certain delivery companies. Below is an overview of the Royal Mail delivery report findings and conclusions.

Reasons customers buy online

We all know online shopping is growing amongst consumers, it is now the minority who don’t shop online with 69% customers saying they shop online more than they used to. A vast majority are used to buying online and find it a familiar experience.

Consumers aren’t looking for the cheapest price online, just the right deal. Often the best deal isn’t always the cheapest.

Time spent buying online:

  • <1 year = 2%
  • 1 – 2 years = 10%
  • 3 – 4 years = 23%
  • 5 – 6 years = 25%
  • 7+ years = 39%

Whether customers had only been shopping online for 6 months, 1 year or 7 years, they all listed convenience and flexibility as their top reasons for buying online. Their 3rd reason was price, but stated, they aren’t looking for the cheapest price online, just the right deal. Often the best deal isn’t always the cheapest.

How customers shop

Almost half (47%) of online shoppers are influenced to purchase via social interactions, with reviews, price comparison sites, word of mouth and web vouchers having the biggest impact on their decisions. Social media is also another big influencer. The ability to check reviews and recommendations before buying is important to online shoppers. This is certainly something online shops and marketeers need to keep in mind if they’re to retain and build their audience.

My personal top 5 online retailers who I shop from most are Amazon, Topshop, ASOS, Boots and Next. One of my favourite things about these shops, is they all (apart from ASOS) feature customer reviews and the customer reviews are at the forefront of the product; the overall rating is viewable in the search results and the review(s) are clear and viewable within the product listing too. There is no sign of hiding true customer feedback and I base a lot of my purchases on those reviews.

75% of online shoppers said they were unlikely to use a retailer again if they had a difficult return experience

Social media and social interactions are not just the main factors customers use to shop. The Royal Mail delivery report also outlined 5 key deciding factors which customers also go by. They are value for money (free delivery, or free delivery over a certain value), transparency around charges and returns policy, emotional factors (finding the exact product and knowing the delivery company), convenience (good delivery options, easy to collect items or collect in store) and good customer service. 75% of online shoppers said they were unlikely to use a retailer again if they had a difficult return experience and 81% also said they would be unlikely to go back if they were charged for returns.

Dealing with cart abandonment

It was found that if the above 5 factors are not met, then they are some of the top reasons for abandoning their shopping cart and not continuing with their purchase.

ASOS may not have product / customer reviews, but one of the reasons why they are one of the best online retailers is because they are completely transparent with their customers. As soon as you view a product on their site, there is a huge call to action stating free delivery and returns:

Royal Mail delivery report

When clicked, there is an open, honest breakdown of their delivery charges and timescales, so customers know exactly what to expect.

Royal Mail delivery report

This information is made available again in the customers shopping cart, so they are constantly informed throughout their ASOS experience. They also offer a huge range of delivery options, so customers don’t have to be kept waiting for their order to arrive.

Choosing your delivery

For all shoppers, delivery really does matter. Delivery charges and other delivery factors such as the item taking too long to arrive, or extra charges being placed on orders have a real impact on cart abandonment. Just under half say they abandon for delivery charges.

Delivery charges are a deciding factor for cart abandonment. Put delivery at the heart of the product offering.

There have been a number of occasions when I have found a product I wanted, but have found that there is no free delivery available. I feel I practically resent having to pay for delivery, when I haven’t even been offered a free standard delivery. I don’t mind paying, if I get the option to choose, I want that flexibility and to be the one to make the decision, not have it forced it upon me. There have been many times when I have abandoned my cart and gone elsewhere based on that issue alone.

The overall conclusion? Delivery charges are a deciding factor for cart abandonment. Put delivery at the heart of the product offering, provide a range of clear, upfront and flexible delivery options and this may help lower abandonment.

Another factor for customers is that they like to know who the delivery company is. If there is a high satisfaction with a delivery brand, the more likely customers are to shop with them again. Which again, I couldn’t agree with more. I love using ‘Prime’ on Amazon, the ability to have my order next day is quite a high priority for me. However, the one issue I do have with Prime, is that I never know who my courier will be until Amazon text and email me later that night. 9 times out of 10, their couriers are fine, I get tracking and told an hour slot they’re likely to arrive. However, occasionally they ship with Yodel and there has been more than one occasion when my order has been ‘mis-placed’, not turned up or late. Depending what it is I’m buying, knowing there may be a chance my order could be shipped via Yodel is enough for me to think twice about ordering from Amazon.

I found the Royal Mail delivery report a really interesting read and it provides a great amount of insight into the average online customer, their behaviour, wants, needs and habits. This is a huge resource for any marketeer that works for an online retailer and many companies should take note of Royal Mail’s research. Online shopping is growing every year and with that, so are our demands and expectations. As customers, we are very impatient and lack loyalty when shopping online. If companies aren’t following these trends and expectations, they’ll quickly find themselves out of the picture.

If you want to read the full Royal Mail delivery report you can do so here. How do you feel about online shopping? What are your expectations and thoughts? Why not let me know in the comments below, or follow me and let me know on Twitter.