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Stellar Search are specialists in digital marketing for retailers and we are often asked by our partners what promotions they should run in order to help the performance of their digital channels. As a result we thought we would run our own consumer research study to find out what is important to consumers when they are making their online purchase decisions.

Using Google Consumer Surveys we conducted research of over 1000 recipients to see what insights we could learn based on two key questions around delivery and returns for online retailers, the questions were:

  • How important is free returns to you when buying products online?
  • How important is free delivery to you when buying products online?

The consumer research will be able to give us insights that should help online retailers answer the following questions:

  • How important are free delivery and free returns to a consumer, as they are a cost to a business, but by how effective are they in terms of driving sales?
  • Is it expected by consumers to have free delivery and free returns and if they don’t will they purchase elsewhere?
  • Are different consumer profiles in terms of age and gender demographic effected differently in terms of how important they feel free delivery and free returns are?
  • With Google Shopping being such a big driver of traffic for retailers, is it beneficial to have the cheapest price shown for products in Google and then calculate costs for delivery and returns as an additional cost?

Consumer Research Analysis

How important is free returns to you when buying products online?

The consumer research found the following overall response when people were asked how important free returns are when purchasing products online:

Overall

Importance of Free returns

Overall 56.1% people said that free returns was very important when buying products online, with only 11.3% saying it was not important.

Gender Comparison

In terms of the breakdown between genders, the research showed:

Importance of Returns Gender

A higher % of females rated free returns as more important at 68.4% where 50.9% of males rated free returns as very important. 10% of males rated free returns as not important where as 4.1% of females rated it as not important.

Age Comparison

When we break the research down further by age, the research give us the following insights of consumer behaviour:

Importance of Returns Age 1

Of all the age groups it is the 65+ age group that rates free returns as very important the most at 68.1% followed by 25-34 year olds at 63.6%. The 18-24 year old group rate free returns as not important the most with 9% followed by 8.7% of 65+ age group.

Geographic Comparison

The research carried out looked at different regions within the UK to see if there were any trends around if people in different locations valued the importance of free returns differently:

Importance of Returns Location 1 Importance of Returns Location 2

Of the different locations within the UK, consumers located in Northern Ireland rated free returns as very important the most at 82.6% a far greater percentage than any the next territory of Scotland at 57%. Consumers located in Wales rated free returns as not important the most at 22.5% where as 4.3% of people in Northern Ireland rated free returns as not important.

Conclusions

Based on the consumer research we can deduct the following conclusions on how important free returns are to consumers:

  • Over 50% of people who completed the questionnaire rated free returns as very important
  • Females rate free returns as more important than males
  • Over 65+ age group rates free returns the highest of any age group
  • People in Northern Ireland rate free returns higher than other areas of the country

Based on this information, retailers who are selling products online can think about their target demographics based on gender, age and location and offer free returns depending on which type of target demographic is purchasing their products.

 

 How important is free delivery to you when buying products online?

The consumer research found the following overall response when people were asked how important free delivery is when purchasing products online:

Overall

Importance of Free Delivery

Overall 51.6% people said that free delivery is very important when buying products online, with only 7.2% saying it was not important.

Gender Comparison

In terms of the breakdown between genders, the research showed:

Importance of Free Delivery Gender

A higher % of females rated free delivery as more important at 56% where 50% of males rated free delivery as very important. 9.9% of males rated free returns as not important where as 4.8% of females rated it as not important.

Age Comparison

When we break the research down further by age, the research give us the following insights of consumer behaviour:

Importance of Free Delivery Age 1 Importance of Free Delivery Age 2

Of all the age groups it is the 55-64 age group that rates free delivery as very important the most at 58.1% followed by 65+ age group at 57.5%. The 25-34 year old group rate free delivery as not important the most with 10.2% followed by 9.1% of the 18-24 age group.

Geographic Comparison

The research carried out looked at different regions within the UK to see if there were any trends around if people in different locations valued the importance of free delivery differently:

Importance of Free Delivery Location 1 Importance of Free Delivery Location 2

Of the different locations within the UK, consumers located in Scotland rated free delivery as very important the most at 57.7% followed by England with 51.7% of consumers rating free delivery as very important. Consumers located in Northern Ireland rated free delivery as not important the most at 10% where as 3.4% of people in Wales rated free delivery as not important.

Conclusions

Based on the consumer research we can deduct the following conclusions on how important free delivery is to consumers:

  • Over 50% of people who completed the questionnaire rated free delivery as very important
  • Females rate free delivery as more important than males
  • Consumers over the age of 55+ rate free delivery more important than consumers under the age of 55 the highest of any age group
  • People in Wales and England rate free delivery higher than other areas of the country

Overall Summary

When you combine the research data for both questions, you can draw some interesting conclusions about how users of different genders, age and location view the importance of free delivery and free returns. Based on data, Stellar Search can draw the following conclusions and offer the following recommendations to retailers who are selling online in terms of their approach to free delivery and free returns.

  1. Overall, 50% of consumers rate both free delivery and free returns highly. This is important to know for retailers as it shows that consumers really want this from online retailers and is something that we would recommend all online retailers to implement.
  2. If retailers are selling products which are more targeted to females then this demographic rates free returns and free delivery more highly than males do. If retailers are selling products which are more targeted at males then this this is less important than females, however, still over 50% of males indicate that free delivery and free returns is still important to them and should not be ignored by retailers who are targeting males with their product range.
  3. In retailers are targeting an older audience of consumers over 55+ then they rate free returns and free delivery highly and should be offering that as part of their service. Younger demographics rate free delivery and returns less highly but still over 50% of consumers aged 18-24 still rate this highly.
  4. In terms of locations, consumers in Northern Ireland value free returns more highly than they do free delivery. This is interesting as it indicates that cost of returning products in Northern Ireland may be more than it is in the UK mainland, where the majority of online retailers are based. As such online retailers wanting to attract more consumers from Northern Ireland should offer free returns over free delivery to this target audience. In England and Scotland consumers value free delivery more highly than free returns and this is something online retailers should keep in mind when implementing their delivery and returns policies.

Stellar Search has found this consumer research project very interesting and gives us a better understanding of consumer behaviour when it comes to advising our clients on their delivery and returns policies to help improve overall onsite conversion rates for retailers.

If you have any questions regarding this consumer research study then please get in touch with the team at Stellar Search by emailing us on hello@stellarsearch.co.uk or give us a call on +44 (0) 845 0513 996. We look forward to hearing from you!