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Key findings of our emotional shipping experiences research


Published on: Mar 15, 2022


We’re pleased to announce the release of our exclusive data into the emotional shipping experience. In conducting this research, we worked with the third-party firm YouGov. The research aimed to understand more about the attitudes and behaviors US consumers display while shopping online. In turn, we also get to know the quality of experience delivered by US brands in 2022.

At parcelLab, we push the boundaries of customer experience during warehousing, shipping and returns. Historically, these are areas where the customer experience has not been prioritized. We help brands change that.

We are committed to understanding the current state of online shopping experiences, so that we are in the best position to find helpful solutions – for people and brands. Our latest research reveals the emotional factors that drive U.S. consumers to make a purchase, and by contrast, how a brand’s actions can negatively affect brand perception.

5 key findings of our emotional shipping experiences research

53% say that the post-purchase is the most emotional part of their shopping journey

Our research proves that people have an emotional response to shopping online. Overall, more than half (57%) of U.S. shoppers admit that they are emotionally tied to their purchases. Interestingly, we can reveal that different shopping experiences elicit different emotional responses. 63% say fulfilment, shipping, delivery, and returns are the most emotional part of their shopping journey, for example.

Of the consumers who stated they have strong emotional responses to online shopping, nearly five out of ten (47%) were for clothing/apparel purchases, 38% for food and drink, 33% for beauty and wellness. A further 29% had an emotional response to ordering consumer electronics.

This is a really clear sign that brands need to take care of their customers after checkout. Clearly, people are emotionally invested in a wide range of products, so no matter what your brand sells, your customers want to hear from you!

Impulse shopping drives emotional shipping experiences

62% of American consumers have made impulse purchases in the last 6 months. And within that group, 43% say that the purchase was due to a celebration. For example, nearly two in ten (17%) people made impulse purchases to celebrate a work promotion. 34% reveal that they experience happiness or excitement when making an impulse purchase.

Our research has also found that 26% of people have made an online purchase impulsively due to stress. A further 36% have made an impulse buy due to sheer boredom. It is understood that understanding a person’s motivation for making a purchase is hugely valuable for a brand. This provides an opportunity to capture the attention of impulse buyers and share in their excitement.

For example, brands can create loyalty programs, rewards or birthday offers to appear more tempting when their customer is looking to make an impulse buy. Staying connected to your customers after checkout will also help you stay connected to your customers for longer. Keeping them engaged with your brand increases the likelihood that they will buy from you again.

People expect good shipping experiences, for free

It may be surprising to know that in 2022, many retailers still do not offer free shipping or returns. Others require customers to spend a certain amount before they are eligible for free delivery. Our research suggests that this could be a major mistake.

Our data shows that 57% of consumers will decide on where to shop based on the availability of free shipping. So, in not offering it, or restricting the number of customers eligible, could be driving customers towards your competitors.

Consumers are investigating shipping and returns processes while deciding where to shop. So, it is important for retailers to weigh the costs of incorporating these options into their strategy – is it worth losing out on potentially loyal customers?

People consider a brand’s values before making a purchase

Our research shows that people are not just emotional after checkout. They are more conscious about where they spend their money in the first place. With a wealth of online shops available, people have the luxury of being more selective about where they shop. For example, it is easy to find out if a brand aligns with your political beliefs and ethics, so people take this into consideration when they decide where to spend.

In this way, buying from brands you support makes you feel good. It means that you, by extension, have contributed to something bigger, something positive. For example, our research shows that 22% of people choose where to shop based on their political and social justice views. A further 22% would choose a brand they perceive to be most committed to fair labor practices. Similarly, one in five people would choose a brand based on the environmental initiatives they run.

Brands should take every opportunity to embody their values. On every touch point a customer has, they can signify their ethics. For example, if a brand has won an award for being eco-friendly, they should add the award to their post-checkout messages. Or they could provide tips for their customers to become more eco-friendly. In this way, the brand makes it really clear that they embody their values. This will make it easier for people to recognize and bond over the brand’s value system.

People are tired of mismatched marketing

People have lost patience with brands who send incorrect or inaccurate marketing materials. In fact, brands that do this are driving their customers away.

Of the 49% that say they were incorrectly targeted to in the last six months, 42% said they immediately unsubscribed from the brand’s marketing content. Another 24% chose to block the brand on social media!

43% said that they received marketing for a product they’d already bought. 28% said the items promoted were not age appropriate. And 28% received promotional material for products for a gender they do not identify with.

As a result, brands are losing out on additional sales opportunities. More than one in five people decide not to buy from a brand that sends them mismatched marketing materials. This must be a priority for brands to fix.

Brand should take control of the end-to-end communication that they have with their customers. This will help to uphold a high standard experience throughout the entire journey.

What can brands do to manage the emotional shipping experience?

In summary, it is clear that people are emotionally invested in their online purchases. People are increasingly selective about where they shop, considering a brand’s ethics, shipping and returns policy before choosing to buy. And after purchase, as they are more emotionally invested in the experience, people expect a high level of service – with tailored communications and relevant marketing materials as standard. But how can brands deliver this?

parcelLab is the leading Operations Experience Management platform. We help you to take control of your end-to-end customer contact throughout operational processes, like warehousing, shipping and returns, to manage your customers’ expectations proactively. Keep people updated and engaged with fresh, tailored touch points that add genuine value to their experience.

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