Australian online shoppers are put off online buys that don’t offer free returns and free delivery as standard, according to new research from Emarsys.

Consumers were asked what would cause them to abandon a purchase during their Christmas shopping, with 16.4 per cent claiming that not having an option for free returns would be enough to put them off buying a product they’re interested in — more than any other factor.

Meanwhile, 14 per cent of consumers say that not having free delivery is the biggest deal breaker. This was the second most popular motivating factor.

The martech vendor, acquired by software giant SAP last year, polled  801 participants across Australia in an online survey for the results.

The responses suggest long delivery windows are also a critical turn off for consumers, with 9.4 per cent of shoppers put off from a purchase if the delivery time is more than three days. Another 9.4 per cent of consumers will avoid a particular brand if it lacks an online presence.

Having a variety of payment and pick-up options available is also important to Aussie consumers, with a lack of payment plans and layby, as well as a lack of click and collect options causing 4.8 per cent and 4.7 per cent of consumers respectively to desert a purchase.

Expectations still high

Emarsys says its latest research closely correlates to its previous research on Black Friday shopping behaviours in September.

When consumers were asked what would encourage them to shop online during Black Friday, the strongest motivation was free delivery, with 59 per cent of consumers claiming this was a top influence. Other powerful motivators included free returns (15 per cent) and speed of delivery (18 per cent).

The same Emarsys research showed that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated consumer expectations regarding online shopping. More than one in five Aussie shoppers now say the COVID-19 pandemic has made them care more about good customer service online. Meanwhile, e-commerce sales are set to continue to grow. Driven by Black Friday sales, November ABS figures showed $3.6 billion spent online – up from $2.1 billion last year and representing 11 per cent of retail spend for the month.

“As our research demonstrates, a poor delivery and returns experience has become a major deal breaker for most Aussie consumers. And the importance of the delivery experience will continue to rise as online shopping becomes more popular than ever,” said Adam Ioakim, managing director, APAC at Emarsys.

So popular was online shopping this Christmas that Australia Post recorded its biggest month ever, with more than 52 million parcels delivered during December. This is an almost 20 per cent increase on the previous year.

“Customers want to see, feel and feel comfortable with their purchase, and sometimes it’s not what they expect,” said Ioakim. “Therefore, brands should see returns as an opportunity to better understand their customers and further improve both the in-store and online experience.”

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