Mobile and marketplaces are changing the e-commerce landscape

US online shoppers are making more mobile purchases, more cross-border purchases, and more frequently shopping on e-commerce marketplaces and using alternative delivery methods, according to UPS’ newly released annual Pulse of the Online Shopper study.

  • 48% of the 5,000 US online shoppers surveyed have made purchases on a smartphone, up from 44% in last year’s study, and 41% in 2015. Millennials are driving mobile growth — millennial respondents made 29% of their purchases via smartphones, compared with 10% of purchases by all other age groups.
  • Nearly all (97%) of “avid” online shoppers — customers who made at least seven online purchases in a three-month period — purchased from e-commerce marketplaces over the past year, up from 85% in 2016. Lower prices resulting from merchants competing with each other on these marketplaces drove customers to the sites — 65% of respondents cited better prices when asked why they shopped on marketplaces, and 55% cited free and discounted shipping.
  • Cost is also driving more cross-border purchasing — 47% of the respondents had purchased from a foreign retailer, up from 43% last year. Lower prices were the top driver cited by 43% of cross-border purchasers, followed by finding something unique that couldn’t be found on US sites (36%).
  • 50% of respondents had used a ship-to-store option for picking up an online order, with 41% planning to use such options more often in the next year. Overall, 37% said they prefer to use alternative delivery locations rather than home delivery for online purchases, up from 35% in last year. Additionally, 44% of those who had used this delivery method made an extra purchase while picking up their order.

The study’s findings highlight expanding opportunities that online retailers can leverage to grow their businesses — as well as growing risks. Retailers need to invest in improving their mobile web and app experiences, with an eye toward winning millennial customers, or they risk losing these customers to rivals.

Online marketplaces like Amazon are increasingly the first stop for online shoppers looking to research products and prices — 29% of the respondents said they plan to research more on marketplaces when they shop, and 30% plan to shop on marketplaces more frequently, making joining these marketplaces and comparing prices on them more important for retailers. Lastly, brick-and-mortar footprints allow retailers to offer alternative delivery methods that consumers are increasingly intrigued by.

 

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