Consumers willing to grant some leeway to retailers as shopping habits adjust due to covid-19

A significant portion of shoppers recognise the uncertainty that retailers face in the coming holiday period and are willing to give them some latitude in return for free shipping, clear communication and delivery promises to be kept

In new survey of more than 1,600 US Shoppers, Convey has found that even as most stores have reopened, shoppers are planning to shop earlier and mostly online. Thirty-nine percent of consumers have said they will start holiday shopping earlier this year, with 82% planning on purchasing most of their holiday shopping online, and 30% planning on doing it all online.

Consumers are conscious of COVID’s impact on retailers – even if they aren’t willing to commit their dollars accordingly. Two in three (66%) say it’s important to support local retailers who have been negatively impacted by COVID, but this is a sharp decline from a survey conducted in April, where 87% said it was important or very important to support local retailers.  In fact, only 13% of consumers have said they will shop locally or with speciality chains, when asked which retailers they are most likely to buy from during the holiday. 

This pales in comparison to the online giant Amazon, who is poised to dominate like never before, despite some consumers’ misgiving about its impact on retail as a whole. 61% of respondents are planning to shop there this holiday, making it the number one choice for holiday shopping. A distant second choice are big box retailers (Walmart, Target and Best Buy), with just 16% of respondents planning to find gifts there.

Negative sentiment for Amazon is growing, however, with 31% of consumers saying Amazon has a negative impact on retail – up from 24% who said the same thing in January 2020. Yet among these nearly half (46%) admit they will shop there anyway during the holiday.

Regarding delivery, consumers are willing to grant retailers breathing room, but sellers must be clear about timing, communicate the order status, and provide fulfilment alternatives. Eighty-nine per cent of shoppers are willing to give retailers extra time to deliver packages, with almost three quarters willing to grant one to four extra days, and 16% willing to wait five or more additional days.

However, shipping must be free. According to shoppers, the top three most important delivery services are: Free 2-day shipping (44%); free shipping on returns (18%); and the ability to track packages en-route (14%). Fifty-eight percent also stated that they are more likely to complete a purchase if the estimated delivery date is visible in the cart prior to starting the checkout process.

This is because the top concern this holiday season is getting a package on-time. The top three fears with shipping this holiday are that the package will be late (42%), worry it will be stolen from their porch (17%), or concern over a high price of shipping (16%).

 Retailers failing on their timeline risks complaints and dwindling loyalty. Nine in 10 shoppers (89%) say that on-time delivery is important to overall online shopping experience - up from 84% who said the same last year, with seven in 10 (68%) saying they won’t shop with a brand again after a poor delivery experience.

 “Between astronomical increases in online orders, unpredictable supply chains and worrisome delivery delays, retailers are facing an extraordinary holiday season,” said Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, Chief Growth Officer at Convey. “Our fourth annual survey helps retailers understand where to focus, and given consumers’ overwhelming reliance on online shopping this year, it’s no surprise that shipping once again tops the list. The good news is that consumers are willing to give retailers a few extra days to deliver items. In exchange, they are looking for free delivery with complete transparency around arrival dates. Retailers who can keep their delivery promises through this most challenging of retail seasons stand to earn loyal customers and thrive.”

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