According to research from eCommerce delivery technology firm, MetaPack, North American consumers are exhibiting a number of possibly significant changes and shifts in their shopping and delivery behaviours and preferences. This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

The research was conducted with more than 1,000 consumers of varying ages in the US and Canada. Findings included in the 2018 State of eCommerce Delivery Report - North American Insights reveal an increase in the number of consumers purchasing from luxury brands, a growing interest in the option to try-before-you-buy and a preference for non-traditional delivery options.

The rise (or re-rise?) of the Luxury Shopper
Following a tentative start, the research findings revealed that there has been a definite uptick in consumers purchasing online goods from a luxury brand in the last months, as these brands - whose names are associated with luxury, high price, or high quality - are now racing to embrace digital commerce. Some 91% of US consumers and 82% of Canadian consumers had purchased online goods from a luxury brand in the last months.

US consumers appear highly enthusiastic about engaging with luxury brands online - over a quarter (27%) had shopped with or more luxe brands in the past year. Around one-third of consumers (32% U.S., 39% Canada) had shopped online with between four and nine luxury brands. Home delivery was the top preference for 38% of US and 32% of Canadian shoppers making a luxury purchase.

Asked to compare delivery of their luxury item compared to other ordinary online purchases, 72% of US shoppers said it felt more secure; 62% said it was more controllable and trackable; and 56% said there was a greater level of personal care.

However, 24% of Canadian shoppers said there was no discernible difference and were less impressed with their luxury item deliveries compared to their US counterparts; 45% said it felt more secure; 35% said there was greater control or trackability; and 27% experienced a greater level of personal care.

With luxury eCommerce taking off, the pressure is on smart retailers to provide unique experiences and differentiated delivery options that play well with shoppers.

Offer convenience with Try-Before-You-Buy
Try-before-you-buy plays strongly to consumer desires for a more convenient shopping experience. Some 72% of US and 71% of Canadian consumers surveyed say the convenience of try-before-you-buy is appealing.

Consumers say that, for them, it's all about flexible customer service (73% of US and 67% of Canadian shoppers).

Also, 45% of US and 33% of Canadian consumers note that they anticipate try-before-you-buy would reduce delivery costs on their online orders.

But while 54% of US consumers say they'd be prepared to pay more for the ease and convenience endowed by a try-before-you-buy service, just 41% of Canadian shoppers indicated any inclination to pay for this privilege.

eCommerce sites that are struggling to streamline their returns process will need to prepare for the increase in demand that will be generated as more consumers look to take advantage of the try-before-you-buy trend.

Try offering more non-standard Delivery Options
A growing number of shoppers favor non-traditional shipping options, so while home delivery - for free - retains a strong appeal, consumers are now expecting a range of other options to secure the most expedient time or location to take receipt of their orders. Some 56% of US and 45% of Canadian shoppers collected their purchases in store.

With regards to a local pick-up point or shop, 23% of US and 27% of Canadian consumers surveyed had used this option. However, 40% of Canadian shoppers plan to take advantage of this, and delivery to a secure box outside their home held a strong appeal for 35% of US respondents, demonstrating an increasing interest in this service.

Interestingly, 'weekend delivery' was a chosen option for 27% of US and 17% of Canadian shoppers.

Over a quarter (26%) of US and 18% of Canadian shoppers had taken advantage of same-day delivery where this option was available to them. Meanwhile, 17% of US respondents say the desire for instant gratification meant they'd made use of a one-hour delivery option to get their goods faster.

Some 81% of US and 69% of Canadian shoppers surveyed expect to pay extra for a one-hour, same day, next day or Sunday delivery.

One in five (20%) of consumers in the US and 21% of shoppers in Canada scheduled deliveries to their place of work.

Nearly one-third (30%) of US shoppers say they'd be willing to try out futuristic options like delivery by drone, robots or autonomous vehicles.

Findings demonstrate that consumers desire to shop with those eCommerce sites that can best meet growing expectations for delivery experiences that are simple, fast, and - above all - convenient.

"With shifting consumer shopping and delivery behaviors and preferences, it's clear that eCommerce retailers need to be well prepared to address their evolving desires and requirements - or risk losing business to competitors," said Bruce Fair, chief revenue officer for MetaPack. "Delivery control is high on the consumer agenda - today's shoppers actively seek out the most convenient delivery mode for every purchase they make. With a variety of options to meet their needs, including newer services like ship from store, e-tailers can provide differentiators that help drive conversions and customer loyalty."

The research was carried out in July 2018 on behalf of MetaPack by Research Now. Aged between and 65+, all survey participants had made an online purchase in the last six months, and the survey sample was designed to ensure equal respondent weighting between the U.S. (511) and Canada (511) and the age and gender of the participants. To download the full report, visit http://www.metapack.com