By Aimee Chanthadavong

Online shoppers in Asia want more choices and convenience, according to a recent study by comScore and UPS.

The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper: A Customer Experience study of Asia and Australia, found Asia has the world’s largest online population with 650 million internet users, exceeding the US of 191.5 million users, Europe with 182.3 million users and Australia with 14.4 million users.

However, overall satisfaction in Asia with respect to online shopping ranks the lowest globally with only half of Asian shoppers are satisfied. The reasons behind the low satisfaction is around the ability to choose delivery dates and times, to collect purchased goods at a convenient retail location, and exchange or returns policies.

Amarpal Singh, comScore APAC senior marketing manager, said transparency throughout the entire online shopping experience is critical.

“Shoppers today are increasingly discerning in their choices when it comes to online shopping and seek greater control over their purchases,” he said.

“Amongst the surveyed Asian consumers, Singaporeans (81 per cent) were found to have the highest tendency to abandon carts during the purchasing process, equating to lost opportunities for retailers.

“The key reasons behind cart abandonment include the discovery that delivery costs make the total purchase price higher than expected. More than 66 per cent of shoppers also said the expected shipping time is too long or not provided. In Singapore, more than 55 per cent of the respondents indicated that delivery times exceeding eight days would increase the chances of cart abandonment.”

The survey also found that Asian consumers increasingly shop online using their mobile phones and tablets, with nearly eight out of 10 online shoppers preferring to access multi-channel retailers via handheld devices.

Asia Pacific consumers are using tablets to search for deals and make price comparisons. In a typical three-month period, more than 70 per cent of the Asian shoppers surveyed used a smartphone to make a purchase while nearly 80 per cent of the same group made purchases through a tablet.

Singh said given that Asia's internet population is younger than 35-years-old this is impacting on the way the internet is being accessed.

“Southeast Asia has a much younger population over all as compared to Australia,” he said.

“For a lot of these younger people mobile is the preferred device to get online. The adoption of mobile while they’re young also makes them more comfortable using it for all their needs including shopping.”

Additionally, a free and convenient returns policy can nearly double the likelihood of Asian shoppers completing a sale compared to paying for return shipping or paying a restocking fee. Shoppers in Australia (80 per cent) and Singapore (73 per cent) are likely to consider a sale if return shipping is free. However, this is not likely to impact online shoppers in China with only 18 per cent of them sharing the same view as their counterparts in Australia and Singapore.

A hassle-free returns policy also drives word-of-mouth recommendations and shopper loyalty, particularly in China and Singapore. All markets agreed free delivery tends to generate positive recommendations.

“More than 60 per cent of Singapore consumers ranked an easy return or exchange process as the second most important aspect of e-commerce, just after free or discounted shipping,” Singh said.

“A hassle-free returns policy would also influence 61 per cent of Singapore consumers to make a purchase from a retailer they are shopping with for the first time and 62 per cent agreed it would drive word-of-mouth recommendations and shopper loyalty.”

Singh also said considering consumer behavior at a broader level, the combination of purchasing online and having interaction with retail stores is changing shopping behaviors.

“From the study, 70 per cent said they want to the ability to make purchases online and later return them to a physical store, or ship them back for free,” he said.

“Having coupons or promotions sent to their mobile phones when near a retailer also ranks highly as a purchase driver and is supported by 51 per cent wanting to receive such location-based deals.”