UPS Online Shopping Study: Empowered Consumers Changing the Future of Retail

  • Mobile Technology Driving Purchase Options
  • Consumers Are Shopping Small and Local; Stores Still Important
  • Online Shoppers Want Alternate Delivery Locations

ATLANTA, June 3, 2015 – Avid online shoppers have raised the bar on what it takes for a retailer to stay competitive. Consumers want advanced mobile features, flexible shipping options and hassle-free returns.

Today, UPS (NYSE: UPS), a global leader in logistics and transportation services, and Comscore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, released the fourth UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper U.S. study revealing changes in consumer shopping preferences and buying behavior.

Earlier this year 5,000 U.S. consumers were surveyed. The results indicate consumers plan to research and purchase more frequently using their mobile devices, they are influenced by social media, and free shipping continues to drive purchasing decisions.

To see the complete study and graphics please click here.

Shopping Small and Local
New in this year’s study, most consumers (93%) shop at small retailers:

  • 61% shopped at these locations because they offer unique products
  • 49% couldn’t find what they needed from traditional stores
  • 40% wanted to support the small business community

Shopping Global
In addition, 40% of consumers have purchased from retailers based outside the U.S., with nearly half (49%) reporting they did so to find better prices, and 35% said they wanted items that couldn’t be found in U.S. stores.

Changing Channels
Online shoppers frequently change retail channels during their shopping experience. Better prices (57%) and selection (49%) are the top reasons for purchasing online after researching an item in-store. Nearly half (48%) of online shoppers have used ship to store in the past year, and 45% of those consumers made an additional purchase when picking up their online purchase.

When a purchase is made online from a retailer that has an online and physical store, 39% of consumers who make returns prefer to ship the product back while 61% prefer to return the item to the store. When making an in-store return, 70% purchase an additional item compared to only 42% who make a new purchase while processing an online return.

Respondents said they continue to use personal computers to shop and compare prices, and complement their use as they become more comfortable using mobile technology: 41% use their smartphone for research, while 30% make purchases. Online shoppers appreciate the convenience of smartphones on-the-go and in-store. Smartphone users project making more purchases on their device in the next year.

Retailers need to continue to advance their mobile platforms, as 38% who have a mobile device but do not use it to make purchases said product images are not large or clear enough, and 30% said it’s hard to compare products.

Social’s Power
Many consumers connect to shopping activities through social media with 43% reporting they discover new products on social media sites. Facebook is the most influential channel but shoppers also embrace visually-oriented sites such as Pinterest.

Digital Commerce
Retail continues to evolve as some online shoppers consider using mobile technologies in store: 33% find electronic shelf labels appealing, 29% said they will consider mobile checkout, and 27% said they are open to using touch screens to receive information, make purchases or arrange deliveries.

Free Shipping
Free shipping remains the most important option during checkout according to 77% of online shoppers. More than half (60%) have added items to their cart to qualify for free shipping.

The study provides insight to help retailers increase sales – 48% of online shoppers said they ship items to the store, with 45% of those saying they made additional purchases when picking up their orders.

Hassle-Free Returns
According to the report, only 62% of consumers are satisfied with the online returns process: 67% review a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase, 66% want free return shipping, 58% want a hassle-free “no questions asked” return policy, and 47% want an easy-to-print return label.

Alternate Deliveries
Compared to last year’s study, more consumers are open to alternate delivery options. In 2014, 26% said they prefer to have packages delivered to locations other than their home, this year it rose to 33%.

When not at home to sign for a package, 32% want it shipped to another convenient retail location.

“The future of retail is driven by ever increasingly sophisticated and savvy shoppers who research at home and in a store, but more are turning to mobile as capabilities improve for online product display and promotion,” said Alan Gershenhorn, UPS executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “They also want more flexibility and alternate delivery options. The UPS Access Point™ Network and UPS My Choice® meet these needs by giving consumers more control and flexibility with their home deliveries.”

The UPS Access Point network is now available in New York City, Boston, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay, and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The network also includes all 4,400 The UPS Store locations.

Nearly 15 million members in 16 countries use UPS My Choice to reroute or reschedule deliveries. UPS My Choice members can send their home deliveries directly to a UPS Access Point or the UPS Store location as their preferred delivery address.

About UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper
The report evaluates consumer shopping habits from pre-purchase to post-delivery. The study is based on a Comscore survey of 5,118 U.S. online shoppers.

About UPS
UPS (NYSE: UPS) is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including transporting packages and freight; facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. The company can be found on the web at® and its corporate blog can be found at To get UPS news direct, visit

About Comscore
Comscore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a global leader in digital media analytics, makes audiences and advertising more valuable by providing trusted, independent metrics that help businesses understand how people interact with content and advertising across TV and digital devices, giving a total view of the consumer. For more information, please visit

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Kate Dreyer
Comscore, Inc.
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