Ecommerce in 2019 and Beyond

image of shopping mall decorated for winter holidays

Have you heard of Narvar? They help retailers around the world (think Sephora, Patagonia, Home Depot, and LVMH, among many others) improve their ecommerce business. These well-known retailers represent many of the popular brands that people are buying online, and the data that Narvar gathers and reviews for them can often be indicative of the current state of ecommerce.

Luckily for ecommerce sellers everywhere, Narvar periodically shares this data in reports. Earlier in 2019 they released their “Magical Moments Report”. This report surveys 650+ retailers and 350+ carriers across 9 retail categories and 38 countries regarding online shopping behaviour and customer expectations in 2019. It also recommends ways that ecommerce sellers can apply this knowledge to increase customer satisfaction, build repeat business, and sustain loyalty. 

With the New Year right around the corner and the holiday rush (mostly) behind us, now is a great time to reflect on these findings and consider how you might apply them to your business in 2020. Narvar’s report is 70 pages long, however, and you probably have holiday visitors causing a ruckus in the living room. So, we’ve done the hard work for you and summarized key points below. 

We’ll also share how to put these findings to work using your very own booth and tools here on Bonanza. 

Let’s get started! 

Table of Contents

  1. Shipping: What’s Changing?
  2. Communication Expectations
  3. New Ways to Look at Returns

Shipping: What’s Changing?

image of letter slot on black door

Delivery Options: People like ‘em

Narvar found that providing multiple choices for shipping and delivery can help your business. For example, 80% of UK shoppers they surveyed said they’re more loyal to brands and retailers that offer a range of convenient and flexible delivery options.

Similarly, Narvar found that 80% of consumers surveyed said they want same-day shipping options, but only 53% of retailers offer this.

How you can apply this on Bonanza: 

  • Research periodically to see how you might be able to expand your current delivery options – you never know what might change each year. 
  • Ensure your shipping options and settings reflect your full availability. The Batch Editor and shipping profiles can be a quick way to make multiple updates and apply different settings to different items. 
  • Entertain customer questions about shipping options on an individual basis, if possible. Let’s say a shopper asks for a delivery option you intentionally left out of a listing. Double check to see what you can offer for that specific shopper’s address – they may be close enough that you can still close the sale.  

International shipping and local expectations

Narvar noted that customer expectations regarding shipping vary based on market trends in their country. For example, in the UK, average shipment time in transit is a quick 1.5 days, as delivery collection points are more common and there is a relatively small geographic footprint. This is more than twice as fast as in the US, where they found the average is 3.5 days, and the ‘last mile’ in less populated areas often adds extra transit time. 

Narvar also found that 54% of consumers would shop with a retailer again if they provided an accurate delivery date. 

So, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to figure out how to ship to London from L.A. in 1.5 days. Rather, considering the local norm when you’re expanding into a new country can help you manage customer expectations in your descriptions and communications. 

How you can apply this on Bonanza: 

  • You can use the batch editor to set different shipping rates to one or more international locales. Learn how here. This will ensure that our system collects the correct $ you need to cover your shipping cost to that destination. 
  • Ensure your items’ shipping settings and/or shipping profiles are up-to-date and as complete as possible for each region.
  • Consider inserting an additional written description of your international shipping times in the item details on listing pages. You can use color and other formatting in our WYSIWYG editor to make these details further stand out to readers, if you like. 

Communication Expectations

image of 3 early 19th century land line phones on wall

Being Proactive

Proactive updates ranked highly on customers’ expectation lists, Narvar notes. 81% of consumers surveyed said that receiving proactive updates on an order is critical to them repurchasing. Essentially, this means providing them with information they want before they have to ask for it. This includes things like personalized confirmation messages sent immediately after purchase and providing tracking information as soon as it is available. 

Narvar also found that the longer your delivery timeframe, the greater a customer’s communication expectations increased. This also applied when their order experienced delivery issues or delays. Customers were more likely to remain satisfied if they were notified of delivery issues before the expected delivery date. Generally, customer expectations for response time are growing shorter. (We blame cell phones). 

How you can apply this on Bonanza: 

  • You can set up a personalized message that will automatically send to a shopper after they make a purchase. (Click Booth Settings > Payments & Purchases). Consider adding details here like a friendly greeting, additional contact information for your business, handling estimates (i.e. “We ship within 1 business day”), and/or an estimate for when you’ll be sending tracking information. 
  • We recommend responding to Bmails on Bonanza within 24 hours when you are able. Note that Bonanza memberships include the ability to receive and respond to shoppers’ Bmails using SMS text message, which can make this much easier.  
  • Be sure to add tracking information to the shopper’s order summary on Bonanza as soon as it’s available. We’ll automatically contact the shopper with this information. 
  • If there is an issue with the delivery, let the customer know as soon as you are able and keep them in the loop as the situation unfolds further. If helpful, consider giving them the information to connect with your shipping service directly. 
  • If a customer is experiencing issues using their Bonanza account or Bmail to communicate, you can always direct them to email our support team at support@bonanza.com. 

Notes on Tracking

Interestingly, Narvar found that expectations for tracking were increased in certain item categories, such as technology, which has higher average cost and theft concerns. They also pointed to the expectations for health & beauty categories in the UK and Germany – these categories attracted a statistically higher number of ‘digitally native’ customers who are accustomed to on-demand information. 

Another intriguing discovery was that the US had the highest overall average number of visits to tracking pages. Narvar attributed this to longer overall ship times in the US, which allows customers more opportunity and reason to check back in.

How you can apply this on Bonanza: 

  • Consider how customers’ expectations for tracking might change in accordance with your particular item categories (i.e. expect more tracking concerns with expensive items, or those vulnerable to theft). Look for ways to pre-emptively address these.
  • Be sure to upload tracking to the order summary on Bonanza as soon as it is available. We’ll take care of notifying the shopper. 
  • If you don't use tracking, consider contacting the shopper via Bmail to let them know this, and provide a delivery estimate.

Personalization Matters

53% of customers surveyed said that thoughtful and personal experiences are more important to them than discounts. Narvar suggests treating customers like more than “just another order number” by providing them with above-average experiences, such as helpful information regarding the product they’ve purchased.

How you can apply this on Bonanza: 

  • Look at questions and conversations as a chance to get to know the needs and desires of your average customers. Try to meet these, where possible. 
  • Consider including product-specific tips/resources with your orders, or offering them via Bmail after the sale. This may be particularly appreciated with complex products, such as tech, garden, or auto parts.
  • Consider following up with a customer to ask how they are enjoying their purchase.

New Ways to Look at Returns

Returns often inspire mixed feelings for sellers, so this was nice to hear: Narvar found that 95% of customers who were satisfied with their returns process said they’ll purchase with that retailer again. 

There was a tougher flip side to that coin. 72% of shoppers surveyed said that having to pay for return shipping costs will prevent them from making a purchase. 

There’s ways to make lemonade out of returns, however: In a separate (but related) 2019 report, “State of Returns”, Narvar noted that most shoppers (62%) exchange or replace the items they return. This means that a return is still a chance to keep the customer in your ecosystem. They found that poor service can make the difference between earning this exchange or losing the sale to a competitor, and they observed that more customers are willing to make an exchange instead of a return if it’s easy. 

Useful to know for next holiday season: Narvar also noted that improving the returns process for gift recipients is an opportunity to capture them as new customers. If you’re wondering what customers look for in a ‘perfect return’, Narvar cited:

  • Fast and easy process
  • Receiving updates on the status of their return
  • Being informed when their refund is processed

Some other interesting tidbits from these 2 reports regarding returns:

  • 49% of shoppers actively check a retailer’s return policy before completing an online transaction. 
  • Including more information about your return policy up front instills customer confidence and better manages their expectations.
  • Narvar found that customers may take advantage of longer return windows. In order to recover merchandise faster for resale while preserving customer trust, retailers could reduce their eligible return window to 30 days and consider incentives for customers to return faster (such as free shipping on returns within 15 days).

How you can apply this on Bonanza: 

  • Ensure your return policy is clearly phrased and visible in multiple places on the site. Some places you can do this on Bonanza include:
    • Your Booth Settings > Shipping & Returns page (this will automatically show near the price on your item listings)
    • The description in your item listings
    • Your seller profile bio
  • When processing a return, keep the customer updated about things like refund timelines, etc. using Bmail.
  • Check out this article for more tips on handling returns on Bonanza, like how to turn a negative experience into a positive, and how to request a refund on your seller fees for a return. 

Looking forward

One last reassuring takeaway from Narvar was that while expectations about delivery time are increasing, speed is still not everything yet. There are other experiential touch points that retailers can still compete on, such as delivery methods, proactive communication and a seamless post-purchase experience. 

We hope that this information is helpful for your business in 2020. Have additional tips for the future you’d like to share with other sellers? Let us know in the comments! 


20 responses to Ecommerce in 2019 and Beyond

  • ooak says:
    12/20/19 at 16:44:56

    nice tips… i like the mall photo, too

  • gravityvideo says:
    12/20/19 at 20:12:34

    My learnings in the past match this…
    Offer free returns and refund the full amount including their shipping.
    Free shipping does not make as many sales as low cost shipping with multiple item shipping discounts, which are harder to apply to an order with free shipping.
    Always send a thank you email and tracking information. No exceptions.

  • BlingBlinkyofTEXAS says:
    12/21/19 at 06:14:20

    Wonderful information to get 2020 off to a running start! Thanks BonanzaBrian!

  • N247 says:
    12/21/19 at 10:00:00

    Timely information before the new year arrives!

  • Tenth_and_Delaware says:
    12/21/19 at 11:13:49

    Helpful information, thanks!

  • e_smartchoice0909 says:
    12/21/19 at 18:41:15

    nice tips, thanks!!

  • Bluelucy says:
    12/21/19 at 22:06:39

    Returns anyway you want to look at them are Red Ink for a seller. There is no other way to look at it. Especially when you say an item measures X amount at the waist and buyer is disappointed they could not get their 40 inch waist into the 36 inch garment. Shipping for a regular pair of jeans is $15.00 going and returning out of the seller’s pocket, and results in a loss for the seller on that item. Also free returns attracts the buyers who wear or use the item before they return it.

  • Her_Majesty_Boutique says:
    12/22/19 at 09:08:36

    Thank you for the helpful info. “Merry Christmas to all and to all a great 2020!”

  • JimothyRabbit says:
    12/22/19 at 09:21:56

    Great info!:)

  • Bestpistolgrips says:
    12/22/19 at 11:32:57

    very helpfull.

  • stuff4divas says:
    12/22/19 at 13:45:48

    Thank you for the international shipping info. I’ve been wondering how to do this for 700+ listings in bulk. Good general info given, some of which is dependent upon whether selling new or used items.

  • HandmadeWorldBags says:
    12/22/19 at 23:26:55

    helpfull, thank you for sharing.

  • Extra_Mile_4_You says:
    12/23/19 at 08:57:47

    Nice Read, Thank You!

  • zwiggy says:
    12/23/19 at 15:58:47

    Some background would be nice for the negative nellies, me for one.
    Does all this only apply to high demand new merchandise?

    What is the price range and mark up on the merchandise?

    What % is lost to fraud?

    What % is domestic sales and international sales?

    What are the shipping costs domestic and international?\

    How much do the vague numbers differ by country?

    And on and on.

  • ArteGlass says:
    12/24/19 at 04:25:13

    Helpful article. From the seller`s point of view, I would add the importance of appropriate insurance coverage for each particular parcel.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  • BlogT1 says:
    12/27/19 at 06:08:03

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  • autonutt says:
    12/27/19 at 08:08:00

    Great article, thanks! As far as Bonanza is concerned, hopefully there are some changes planned to make shipping profiles easier to use (particularly when updating rates and applying them to previously listed items). Otherwise everything is pretty great! Wishing all a successful New Year 2020!

  • EG_Trade_Market says:
    12/30/19 at 13:04:36

    Merry Christmas to all!

  • newandusedmix says:
    12/30/19 at 16:32:32

    More and more it just makes me want to quit selling online.

  • Rt_21 says:
    01/02/20 at 13:56:06

    Once again, all of these tips are oriented towards sellers who sell “all new” and “low cost” junk like what Walmart sells.

    Try shipping a 5 pound tire to California from New York. Shipping is more than half the cost. In other words, the tire sells for $ 38 and the shipping is $ 22. And I am supposed to accept the return and pay the return shipping, lose money the transaction and hope the person buys another heavy item so they can return it within days as well?

    This kind of stuff gets crammed down sellers throats on all platforms. Regardless of ebay, Bonanza, Etsy (joke the way that place is being heavy handed), Amazon or any other platform. But the truth is, even major retailers only off returns for a limited amount of time, they NEVER refund shipping cost if item is shipped to home. If they pay return shipping many times it is in the form of driving to their physical locations and dropping it off at the service counter.

    I was a manager at AutoZone. They had lifetime warranty brake pads. The warranty covers manufacturing defects. Good many times on conference calls I was dressed down for returning brakes due to uneven wear that was caused by an unrelated part that hadn’t been replaced. Such as a sticking caliper, faulty or worn hardware and slides, etc. Even though I warranteed the pads and sold the buyer the parts to properly cure the problem Corporate wanted the money out of the pads as well. Because they buy 10 million sets of each part number from China and they make up to 90% on each set of pads. And all home delivered items are returned to local store or buyer pays return shipping in most cases.

    I also worked at NAPA, Parts Of Africa (advance now I guess), Walmart tire and lube, etc. All had similar policies.

    Poor planning on the buyers part does not constitute an emergency on my part. I am not going to jump over customers who have paid for parts and are waiting to get their order to appease somebody in a rip to get their order so they can return it faster. Tried it and had customers do that with me. First week of offering retuns on ebay sales went up 4% but returns went up 100%. So I ended up losing money for 1 month. Never again.

    I have had a company website for many years. It gives me 3/4 plus of my total yearly sales and more than 3/4 of my yearly revenue. No fees, no one telling me how I should handle a customer, no one hounding me for free shipping. Because people who live in the real world know that every carrier regardless of name is ripping all of the shippers off. Monthly server fee, purchased good php cart, upload and edit at my leisure. And I never do under $ 100,000 gross in a year.

    The branded selling platforms regardless of which one – have a vested interested in you earning them money. If they can make more in fees and revenue by you accepting returns and shipping withing minutes of selling then that’s always going to be their recommended procedure.

    As an independent seller who relies on my business to make ME money to live, I will rely on my experience and decline returns, set a reasonable shipping time, and charge for shipping. I will do otherwise when I walk in the post office and the counter person says “no charge today”.

    Charge reasonable shipping, get yourself a BRANDED platform of YOUR OWN (web site), sell your products per your own policies, and most importantly include flyers in every package to direct customers to buy from your private platform. It’s your business, brand it to yourself, not some sales platform that offers free low grade branded shipping supplies, or requires you ship on certain days at certain times, or penalizes you for not offering free shipping and free returns. It’s all malarkey.


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