Tricks of the marketing trade

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How do consumers want their purchases delivered this Christmas?

It’s that time of year when Christmas ads start appearing on our TV screens, delivery vans fill the streets and Amazon boxes stack up in reception at work. The Opinium Retail Tracker team thought we should investigate exactly what shoppers’ views are on retail delivery - looking at who’s picking up in store vs having it delivered? And who are those serial returners blocking the tills when you actually venture in store to buy something?

Home vs work

It’s probably not a huge surprise that 83% of the 1,000 shoppers that we spoke to still want their online deliveries delivered home, however we might start to see this shift in future. Amongst 25-34 year-old men that number drops to 57%, with 27% of that group preferring to have their deliveries made to work and 13% preferring to pick up in store, compared to just 6% of all shoppers.

I want it now

These days it’s not just about having it delivered. What’s becoming more important is the speed of that delivery. Expectations on delivery timescales do differ. Older shoppers are happy to wait for standard deliveries whereas their younger counterparts are much more concerned about when they will receive their purchases. Particularly, 35-44 year-old men - 48% of them want next day delivery.

Offering next day delivery is not essential just yet with only 24% saying they would avoid shopping with retailers who don’t offer it. However, for some demographics, again most keenly amongst the younger/middle-aged men, it is becoming essential with 48% saying they would avoid retailers who didn’t offer it.

The 35-44 year-old shopper cohort is also prepared to pay more for next day delivery with 47% of those already regularly using it, and happy to pay £4 or more for it.

Annual membership - the way forward?

40% of shoppers currently pay for an annual membership with a retailer that provides unlimited delivery such as ASOS Premier or Amazon Prime. However, that jumps up to 51% among 18-24 year-olds and 56% among males in that age group, meaning that this could be a key future marketing tool for retailers to lure shoppers in and grab a bigger share of their basket.

Despite being the group that orders most online and pays more for next day delivery, the male 25-44 year-old shopper is less likely to have an annual membership (41%) when compared with their younger counterparts.

Marketers take note: There is a gender difference between the motivations of annual memberships with women being driven by financial benefits and the regularity of shopping with the retailer, whereas speed is key for men.

Return to sender

There is a clear generational difference in how consumers shop online with nearly half of 35-45-year-olds returning all or at least part of their order - which drops to only 14% among 55-64 year-old shoppers. Retailers are going to have to embrace the early adopters also returning a high proportion of their orders.

The retailers that can make a seamless transition from online to in-store are going to reap the benefits as 53% of shoppers want to return delivered goods in-store. This rises to 65% among 18-24 year-olds, which suggests that this trend is likely to become more prevalent. Women are also keen on returning in-store with nearly 60% favouring this option. Given this, it's unsurprising that Next have recently entered a new initiative with Amazon becoming a pick up and return venue for Amazon orders, an interesting way to drive footfall in store.

The full package

Shoppers are looking for a full service when they order online, 75% of shoppers want to be able to track their delivery. Charging for returns is a big turn off with 61% saying they avoid shopping with retailers who charge for online returns. Giving shoppers the choice of delivery company could become a differentiator as 40% of shoppers would welcome this. It is taken for granted now that shoppers will receive updates on their order with 95% of shoppers stating that they want this.

Delivering the future

Currently only 5% have received an order via drone, however that rises to 14% among early adopters. In future, there will be an increasing focus put on green delivery slots with 38% of 18-24 year-old shoppers preferring this.

Clearly delivery has become a fundamental part of the modern retail experience and those companies who embrace it and make it work on the shopper’s terms will gain a competitive advantage in which, with the high street continuing to struggle, will become the next retail battle ground.

Steve Looney, research director at Opinium.

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