Singapore consumers are considered one of the most avid shoppers globally. This explains not only from the number of shopping malls in the city but also given the fact that the market was amongst one of the first to embrace e-commerce. However, in the current state, it appears that consumers in Singapore are of the opinion that the online shopping ecosystem has several factors that it needs to improve on.
The comScore and UPS study, UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper: A Customer Experience Study for Asia and Australia, shows that at just 51 per cent, Singapore’s overall satisfaction with online shopping came in as one of the lowest globally, lower than the United States (83 per cent), Europe (78 per cent), and China (60 per cent). Areas which see low satisfaction range from issues with delivery dates and times, to lack of convenient retail locations for collection and general returns policies.
The survey is part of a global study that measures e-commerce preferences of consumers and the integrated buying experience of shopping in physical stores and online, also known as omni-channel retailing.
Transparency critical to shopping experience
Shoppers today are increasingly discerning in their choices when it comes to online shopping and seek greater control over their purchases. Amongst the surveyed Asian consumers, Singaporeans (81 per cent) were found to have the highest tendency to abandon carts during the purchasing process, equating to lost opportunities for retailers.
The key reasons behind cart abandonment include the discovery that delivery costs make the total purchase price higher than expected. More than 66 per cent of shoppers also said the expected shipping time is too long or not provided. In Singapore, more than 55 per cent of the respondents indicated that delivery times exceeding eight days would increase the chances of cart abandonment.
Post-sales services, especially when it comes to control over the delivery experience, are also important. For example, consumers look for communication about their orders after check-out. The ability to track packages is of high importance in Singapore with almost all of the respondents (97 per cent) rating tracking as either ‘essential’ or ‘nice to have’.
“Our survey reveals consumers are seeking greater transparency for their online shopping experience. At UPS, our suite of innovative tools provides shippers total visibility within a single tracking tool, allowing them to focus on their core capabilities and outperform the market competition. From tracking services that offer rapid notifications about shipment status to offerings that allow retailers to provide useful information to package receivers, UPS aims to deliver an unparalleled level of convenience, control and reliability that customers seek,” said Ingrid Sidiadinoto, Managing Director of UPS Singapore.
Hassle-free returns as a competitive advantage
More than 60 per cent of Singapore consumers ranked an easy return or exchange process as the second most important aspect of e-commerce, just after free or discounted shipping. A hassle-free returns policy would also influence 61 per cent of Singapore consumers to make a purchase from a retailer they are shopping with for the first time and 62 per cent agreed it would drive word-of-mouth recommendations and shopper loyalty.
“Providing a positive customer experience in e-commerce extends beyond just efficiency and reliability. Ease of returns also plays a crucial role in safeguarding customer satisfaction as well as driving positive recommendations and repeat customers. It is important for retailers to streamline the returns management and reverse logistics through leveraging the expertise of professional supply chain management partners, and ultimately transform their returns process into a competitive advantage,” added Ms Sidiadinoto.
An omnichannel experience
Boasting the highest smartphone penetration rate in Asia at 92 per cent and a tablet penetration of 60 per cent, the regional study found rapid adoption of mobile devices for ecommerce in Singapore. In a typical three-month period, 65 per cent of respondents used smartphones to make a purchase while close to 75 per cent used tablets. Considering consumer behaviour at a broader level, the combination of purchasing online and having interaction with retail stores is changing shopping behaviours. From the study, 70 per cent said they want to the ability to make purchases online and later return them to a physical store, or ship them back for free. Having coupons or promotions sent to their mobile phones when near a retailer also ranks highly as a purchase driver and is supported by 51 per cent wanting to receive such location-based deals.
“The ‘mobile first’ mentality when it comes to shopping is critical for retailers to not only understand, but incorporate into their strategies. Knowing how, when and where shoppers are using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will help retailers enhance customer experiences, leading to increased sales and brand loyalty,” said Susan Engleson, comScore’ Senior Director.