Busier lifestyles and rising fuel prices are likely to cause Americans to shop from home this summer instead of going to the shops, but the choice of retailer may depend on how easy the returns process is, according to a survey by Harris Interactive, commissioned by Newgistics Inc.
The survey found that home shopping is expected to be a popular option during summer 2006, with 27% of US adults saying they are more likely to shop from home due to busy schedules, and 25% saying they are more likely to shop from home due to rising fuel prices. For the purpose of the survey, home shopping includes the internet, catalogues, and television shopping.
Fuel price impact
According to the survey, consumers who are cutting their spending on non-essential items due to rising fuel prices are also making trade-offs that put the home at the centre of their activities.
For example, 85% said they are cooking more at home instead of dining out, while 55% are renting movies instead of going to the cinema, and 25% are shopping from home instead of going to the shops in person.
Loyalty by return?
Almost all home shoppers (96%) agreed that "the ability to return merchandise from home is a critical factor when deciding where to make a purchase". The survey noted that if a return process requires the customer to travel to a mail centre or drop box, only 13% of home shoppers are "very likely" to shop with that retailer again.
However, given the option to return purchases directly from home with a prepaid label, respondents were more than four times as likely (54%) to shop with that retailer again.
Home shopping drivers and barriers
Those consumers who shop from home cited benefits including:
- Convenience (86%);
- The ability to shop any time of day or night (88%);
- Cost savings (63%);
- Fewer concerns about privacy (59%).
However, they also identified barriers that hinder home shopping efforts, such as:
- Inability to touch or try on merchandise (79%);
- Costs associated with shipping fees (71%);
- Inconvenient returns procedures (55%).
According to the survey, 76% of American home shoppers prefer to use a pre-paid US Postal Service label for their returns, although this preference rate drops to 50% when the return means a trip outside the home (e.g. to a drop box or post office).
According to Newgistics, a supplier of returns management solutions, those retailers seeking to reach this growing number of home shoppers will need to focus on convenience not just in the purchasing stage but throughout the entire process, including returns.