Consumer expectations and online shopping habits, particularly around delivery preferences, are changing significantly and increasing demand on suppliers.
This is according to a new report titled The Delivery Experience from BluJay Solutions, which surveyed more than 7,000 consumers across APAC, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
The report highlights the disconnect between consumer expectations and the delivery experience, with 22% of consumers having a delivery experience that meets expectations every time.
According to the report, it is evident that consumer expectations have been widened in line with the changing profile and needs of the online shopper.
One of the biggest insights from the report is how the onset of COVID-19 has expedited consumer interest in contactless delivery options and heightened expectations for greater transparency, reliability and accurate delivery information.
As COVID-19 continues to accelerate the growth of eCommerce, retailers need to be striving to meet and even exceed consumer delivery expectations, however the research highlights that best practice delivery hygiene is often overlooked, BluJay Solutions states.
The report provides several key takeaways around consumer profiles, expectations, favoured methods and reliability.
According to the report, COVID-19 has opened up online retailers to new consumer audiences who were previously hesitant to make the move from brick and mortar to online shopping; government lockdowns and restrictions have forced a conversion in behaviour.
The report shows that more than half of 50-year-old and almost 70% of 18 to 49-year-old people are now shopping online every fortnight.
Clothing, footwear and small electronics are the top categories purchased, as well as groceries and health supplements or beauty products.
The delivery experience is now a key consideration in the consumer purchase journey, with consumers checking delivery information such as cost (87%), delivery timeframe (71%) and the ability to track delivery (51%) before completing their purchases.
Delivery delays are a major issue across the region with an average of 14% of consumers stating that parcels are always delivered on time.
In ANZ in particular, there is an issue of couriers leaving a collection slip despite someone being home, the report states.
Around half of all consumers across APAC are shopping more online during the pandemic and are unanimous in their preference for contactless delivery.
Click and collect as a preferred delivery method is still in its infancy across the region, with about a third of consumers in Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines having never used click and collect before.
However, in Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, click and collect is becoming an increasingly popular option, with almost a fifth of consumers in all three countries preferring this delivery method.
Adoption levels are highest in Australia, where 87% of consumers have used this delivery option previously.
Free and fast delivery, and having visibility over delivery tracking information, are the top considerations when online shopping.
Other considerations are free returns and more customisable features, such as the ability to specify or change delivery details. When it comes to returns polices, having free returns and an easy process were the top two most important features across the region.
Despite interest in extra delivery features, for example green delivery, most consumers are not willing to pay more for them. Same-day delivery is the top feature that consumers would pay extra for.
BluJay Solutions general manager APAC Katie Kinraid says, “With consumers stuck at home due to COVID-19 restrictions, we're seeing a shift in delivery needs and preferences towards contactless click and collect in addition to increased demand for precise collection and delivery times.
"However, the delivery experience is being hindered by issues such as delayed deliveries, long wait times and a lack of proactive communications.
According to Kinraid, while hygiene features such as tracking and regular updates on timing remain critical to ensuring a positive customer experience, the shift to online shopping as the primary means of purchasing marks a significant change in delivery expectations.
Retailers and carriers must adapt to suit consumer preferences that have transformed as a result of this pandemic. Returns policies, for instance, will become more important as consumers increase their online shopping, according to Kinraid.
Kinraid says, “With consumers now preferring contactless, same-day delivery, retailers and carriers need to reassess how they will manage the new model moving forward.
"Areas for improvement that retailers and carriers should consider include the need for new communication channels with customers, as well as the need for greater transparency and accuracy on the delivery and collection times.
"Most importantly they will need to look at how they can help ensure a seamless and safe delivery that maintains zero contact and reduces the potential for theft.