Think back to the last time you shopped online. What were some of the factors you took into consideration before putting an item in your cart and hitting the checkout button? Product reviews, maybe? Discounts or promotions? Free shipping, perhaps? And, if you’re like me, you looked for an easy and hassle-free returns process.
If this sounds like your last e-commerce shopping experience, you are like the average online luxury shopper, according to the 2015 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ Study. The study, conducted by comScore Inc., analyzed data from 5,118 U.S. online shoppers, 576 were identified as purchasers of luxury non-apparel goods, which includes jewelry and watches. This data gives luxury retailers an enlightening, and potentially profitable, peek into the minds of the people they most want to engage.
Luxury e-commerce is exploding. According to the Technavio Global Luxury E-tailing Market 2015-2019 report, sales in this market are expected to reach $42 billion in the next three years. That’s a 100 percent increase over the $21 billion sales high of 2014. It’s a market opportunity that no luxury retailer can afford to ignore.
The results of the UPS® study offer insight into the shopping habits of luxury goods buyers, exploring their preferences during the pre-, post- and purchase phases of their online shopping experiences. (The results of the study are available in a downloadable infographic designed to help luxury retailers maximize sales while minimizing risk.)*
At this time of year, however, most retailers’ thoughts are focused on returns, so let’s review how the post-purchase phase of the online shopping experience can make or break a luxury goods sale. According to the UPS study:
- 55 percent of shoppers want free return shipping
- 40 percent of shoppers want hassle-free returns
- 40 percent of shoppers want an easy-to-print return label
- 64 percent of consumers prefer to return goods to a physical store, and 80 percent will make a new purchase while doing so
It is important to note that while returns are an important part of the post-purchase process, they become even more critical in luxury e-commerce because of the value of goods being returned. Shipping high-value items can be daunting, especially for someone who has never had to do it, so the easier and more seamless a retailer can make the returns process for customers – whether by providing detailed instructions or by allowing in-store returns – the more customers will appreciate it and the more likely they are to recommend a brand or product to others.
Consider partnering with a provider that can assist in not only streamlining the process, but building in risk mitigation practices to reduce theft and loss. Look for options including e-mail return label, auto-deletion of sensitive words or industry terms, re-routing around high-theft areas and proactive monitoring. All of these options will help enhance the customer experience while reducing your risk of loss.
Dave Zamsky has been with UPS for more than three decades, building products and services to meet customers’ supply chain needs and helping to drive profitable growth for the organization.