Robots, chatbots to change online shopping landscape in the future: UPS Study

Robots, chatbots to change online shopping landscape in the future: UPS Study

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UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Global Study, conducted by comScore Supply Chain

April 12, 2018: According to the recent ‘UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Global Study’, online shoppers across the globe who preferred buying from e-commerce marketplaces and international retailers, are relying more on digital devices, and expecting alternate delivery options.

The study was conducted by American media measurement and analytics company, comScore.

It presents insight pertaining to online shoppers’ behaviors and preferences, from a survey conducted across six regions, which includes the US, Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

According to the study, new developments in the retail experience that are likely to play a role in the future of the industry, include online marketplaces and new technologies, such as robots and chatbots.

The study also indicated that consumers were more open to new technologies in the retail landscape, but were equally skeptical of others. When surveyed about the appeal of robots in stores, more than half of consumers in the US and Canada were not convinced, and preferred to interact with a person. While face-to-face assistance was preferable in-stores, respondents preferred self-service options online. The comfort level of using chatbots for tasks like getting product information was highest in the US (65 percent), and lowest in Mexico (45 percent).

The study also encapsulated behavioral shifts of online shoppers who looked for better prices, more choice, control and convenience. It also captured the geographic differences and information, which is essential for retailers as e-commerce is fast transcending geographic borders.

“Understanding shoppers and meeting their demands is crucial in this rapidly changing landscape,” said Alan Gershenhorn, chief commercial officer, United Parcel Service(UPS).

“To stand out, e-commerce companies must realise that with growing competition from across the globe, consumers are expecting different ways to make purchases, with more convenient ways to receive orders, and innovative experiences from start to finish,” said Gershenhorn.

Almost all online shoppers surveyed across various markets were found to be making purchases at marketplaces, which are third-party e-commerce sites that let multiple merchants sell products.

In Mexico, 99 percent of shoppers made purchase from marketplaces, compared to 98 percent in Asia, and 96 percent in both Europe and Canada. The top reasons for using online marketplaces are for better prices, and free or discounted shipping, said UPS.

The study also showed that global competition for customers is fast increasing, with a significant number of online shoppers in Canada (83 percent), Brazil (81 percent) and Mexico (78 percent) made purchases from international retailers. In the US, nearly half (47 percent) of shoppers made international purchases. Consumers shopped internationally primarily for better prices, and access to specific or unique products.

The study also found that majority of global shoppers used mobile devices to search for products, compare prices, locate stores and track deliveries. This is why retailers should think ‘mobile first.’ At least 70 percent of respondents across all regions used smartphones to compare prices while in stores.

Meanwhile, the study shoppers expect quick fulfillment of online orders and speedy delivery across all regions, but expectations for quick delivery differs. Consumers in Asia, Mexico and Brazil expect to place orders later in the day, and still expect for the same-day and next-day delivery.

Across all regions, consumers make online return purchases. Shoppers in the US (44 percent) are the most to return an online purchase, while shoppers in Mexico are the least likely (22 percent). When both return options are available, shoppers in Asia and Europe prefer to ship online purchases back to retailers, compared to consumers in the US, Canada, Mexico and Brazil, who prefer to return online orders to a physical store.

The study divided the results into three sections: Constants, areas of the retail experience that remain important year after year and influence purchase behaviors; Movers, areas where consumers have shown significant growth in recent years; and Emergers, newer areas of retail that may play a role in the shopping experience of the future.