Auctane, parent company of global shipping and fulfilment software company, ShipStation has released its latest E-Commerce Delivery Benchmark Report 2024, which shows that consumers demand a seamless purchasing process, coupled with swift, reliable delivery and hassle-free returns, with little tolerance for delays or complications.

According to ShipStation Australia and New Zealand director, Sophia Pope, there are key trends that emerge from the report that retailers should be aware of.

“There is a rise in cost sensitivity, with more than one-third of Australians (35%) saying cost is the major factor when shopping online, particularly delivery cost,” Pope told Retailbiz in a recent interview.

“Returns is another theme throughout the report with just over half of consumers (51%) preferring the ease of in-home and self-service returns. To add to that, there’s a generational mix and different behaviours depending on age group. For example, Gen Z is more likely to pay for a quick and hassle-free return – three times more likely than Boomers.

“For retailers targeting Gen Z customers, it’s a great opportunity to be transparent with return costs and optimise shipping providers. Four in 10 Australian consumers report an inconvenient returns process would be the primary reason they wouldn’t shop with a brand or retailer again.”

ShipStation Australia and New Zealand director, Sophia Pope.

Pope believes returns are a multi-faceted challenge for retailers, which needs to be addressed strategically.

“Firstly, putting in the effort to reduce returns in the first place by making sure there’s accurate photos, customer reviews, rating systems and size scales to help consumers make the right decision and reduce the environmental impact of returns,” she said.

“Secondly, managing the returns process and making sure there’s an efficient system in place to avoid losing return customers and repeat business. For instance, an automated returns system or portal where consumers can easily initiate a return or include a compostable returns bag in the delivery. QR codes are increasingly popular to show consumers the closest drop-off locations, not only Australia Post but other Pick Up Drop Off (PUDO) locations.

“Retailers need to be as transparent and upfront as possible when it comes to return policies. Returns should be seen as an opportunity for loyalty for returning customers. It’s also important to leverage returns data, such as the reasons for the returns to uncover patterns, such as finding an item runs large or small.

“Returns are a hot topic and there is a lot of worry among retailers, but returns don’t need to be difficult. Lean on your shipping and tech providers and treat them like utilities – check pricing regularly to help reduce costs.”