UPS Saturday delivery program.

As e-commerce continues to grow — and mature — consumers’ preferences are changing as well, according to the latest survey from Dotcom Distribution, which found that “time” involved in the online shopping experience is increasingly valued.

Researchers at the fulfillment and third-party logistics company also found that of the 1,420 consumers surveyed, apparel remains a top online purchase.

“For the third consecutive year, the items purchased most often online were clothing and apparel (77 percent of respondents), consumer electronics or technology (52 percent) and beauty products (41 percent),” authors of the report noted. “Interestingly, clothing and apparel also topped the list of items respondents preferred to purchase in-store, whereas consumer electronics dropped to eighth and beauty products fell to sixth.”

The company said, overall, the survey results reveal “that, as e-commerce shopping increases in popularity, consumers are prioritizing time, experience and quality over factors that were more important in previous years, such as the use of gift-like packaging, the popularity of viewing unboxing videos, or prioritizing fast delivery over product quality.”

The report found that consumers “place higher value on savings than fast shipping.” Still, they expect faster delivery, “but don’t want to pay for it,” the report revealed. “Only 25 percent of respondents would pay extra for faster shipping — in sharp contrast to the 47 percent who’d have paid up to $9 more for faster delivery in 2016.”

And when it comes to “fancy” packaging components such as ribbons and tissue, and handwritten cards, value-added freebies now reign supreme. The researchers said in the report that “giveaways [samples and other swag] rank high on the list of what motivate consumers — especially Gen Z and Millennials — to recommend a brand.” Twenty-three percent of respondents “are more likely than not to buy again from brands that included a free giveaway in their order.”

The survey also showed that 74 percent of shoppers would shop online if they had the option of returning or exchanging items in a store. “Consumers are drawing a stronger connection between online and brick-and-mortar,” the authors of the report said. “A perfect example is the increased expectation and use of buying online and returning in-store. This means brands must have an omnichannel strategy that seamlessly ties online properties with physical locations.”

The survey also revealed differences in shopping preferences based on the demographic cohort. Baby Boomers, for example, didn’t cite shipping speed as a high priority as compared to the less-patient Millennials.

“What consumers expect from their e-commerce experiences depends on their age,” the researchers said in the report. “The study indicates younger buyers desire convenience — flexibility of returning in-store and faster delivery. Older consumers are looking for value — low-cost or free shipping and free returns.”

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