Mapping the Omnichannel Customer Journey: The Importance of Hybrid Retail and Meeting Shopper Expectations 

This year is showing a lot of promise for ecommerce. In fact, the financial difficulties of previous years appear to be on an upswing. As things begin to mend, we’re beginning to see some shifts. 

Retailers need to sell in both digital and physical spaces while meeting shopper expectations, leaving a lot for retailers to juggle. ShipStation has released their 2024 Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark report to help you plan a successful strategy for this year and beyond. 

Key takeaways  

  • Retailers need both an online and in-store presence. 
  • Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to use social media for product research. 
  • Consider your audience when offering carrier services and delivery options. 

Download the full report 

The buyer’s path is changing 

Strictly selling online is no longer an option. 75% of shoppers have physical and digital touchpoints throughout their buying journey. That’s why unified commerce is crucial for retailers. 

Unified commerce combines your selling channels and business operations into one platform. It differs from its predecessor, omnichannel commerce, in that it doesn’t only focus on the customer experience across selling channels. Instead, unified commerce combines everything from your POS systems to your selling channels into a single platform. This gives consumers a seamless shopping experience from start to finish.

Breaking down consumer pathways 

Each shopper’s specific journey might be a little different. However, these flows are all based on four stages: 

  1. Pre-Purchase 
  2. Purchase 
  3. Delivery 
  4. Returns 

Within each part, shoppers have a couple of different options for their purchasing journey. For example, 62% of consumers browse online when researching products while 38% browse in-store. From there, consumers choose where to buy products, delivery services, and return options. 

From browsing to buying 

Your consumer base can consist of two different groups: digital natives and digital adopters. Digital natives are under 45 and mostly grew up with technology. Digital adopters are those over 45 who had to learn technology. Digital natives and adopters are aligned on their top two browsing mediums. 57% of digital adopters and 53% of digital natives use search engines for product research. Additionally, 45% of digital adopters and 41% of digital natives use marketplaces like Amazon. 

The biggest difference comes with social media platforms. 37% of digital natives use social media platforms for research compared to only 10% of digital adopters. One thing’s for certain: your business’s website and social media platforms need to shine. If shoppers find your business through search engines or marketplaces, you want them to buy your products. Not immediately click away. 

How ShipEngine increases cart conversion 

Once a shopper finds your website, the trick is getting them to complete their purchase. In fact, 36% of US shoppers said a lack of convenient delivery options keeps them from being a repeat customer. That’s why ShipEngine provides retailers with several ways to reduce cart abandonment

With ShipEngine, shoppers always see accurate and affordable shipping rates. You can also provide shoppers with various carrier drop-off locations. Additionally, pickup options provide a more affordable shipping option. Shoppers want low delivery costs, and ShipEngine helps your business meet their expectations. 

Learn more in the full report 

Delivery expectations vary 

Out-of-home delivery options like Amazon lockers are gaining popularity with customers. 33% of shoppers who live in towns and 29% of shoppers who live in major cities prefer out-of-home delivery options. Offering both home delivery and out-of-home delivery options can prove fruitful for businesses — especially those who see higher sales in populous areas. 

Premium delivery options 

When it comes to offering delivery options, it depends on your customer base and where you’re shipping. 66% of digital adopters said they would never pay for premium delivery. If your shoppers tend to skew 45 and over, premium delivery options aren’t a priority. But, if your shoppers are under 45, premium delivery options are worth consideration. 

However, age range isn’t the only factor to consider. The majority of US and EU shoppers expect 2-day delivery for orders, while Australian and Canadian customers expect 3-4 day delivery. As with digital natives and digital adopters, your carrier services should reflect your audience. 

If you’re shipping to the US or the EU, premium options could lead to increased sales. But, if you’re shipping to Australia or Canada, other services may be a more viable option, depending on where you’re shipping from. 

ShipEngine rate comparison and discounts 

One consistent pain point for shoppers across the globe is delivery costs. 67% of consumers in the US alone named high delivery costs as the number one reason they wouldn’t purchase from a brand again. While the expectation of delivery services might vary, shoppers across the globe want low delivery costs. 

With ShipEngine, you can access up to 89% off USPS, UPS, and other major carriers*. These discounts help combat premium delivery costs and help your business stay within the $7-$9 range. This way, you can find the best rate for every order. 

*Rates are limited to shipping from the continental U.S. only. These rates and discounts exclude shipment origins from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. Rates and any applicable discounts are subject to change at any time without notice.

Simplify your returns process 

It’s easy to overlook your returns process outside of peak season and other major retail holidays. However, 42% of consumers say they won’t shop with a brand again if they have an inconvenient returns policy. Additionally, 13% of shoppers said flexible returns are the most important part of the delivery journey. Conversely, only 2% of retailers named flexible returns as the most important factor. 

Therefore, creating a simplified and flexible returns policy can not only increase your sales but help your business stand out. When revisiting your returns policy, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Are returns free, or is there a fee?
  • Do all of the listed support options work?
  • How long do customers have to return items?
  • Are the steps in the returns process to follow and understand?
  • How many clicks and screens are involved in the returns process?

If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, rework your returns policy through a shopper’s vantage point. Pretend as though you’re a brand-new consumer. Would you give your store repeat business with its current policy? 

The retail landscape continues to change, but its future remains promising. Additionally, consumers are holding online retailers to high standards. The key to aligning with shopper expectations lies in understanding. Your business needs to understand consumer demographics and how they impact purchasing decisions. 

However, this blog post only serves as the foundation for your strategy. More valuable insights await in ShipStation’s ebook. For a more comprehensive look into consumer expectations and shopping habits, download our 2024 Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark report. 

Download the full 2024 Ecommerce Benchmark Delivery report 

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