Global supply chain crisis forcing customers to think and buy local, global SOTI research finds


As the global supply chain crisis continues to disrupt the retail industry, consumers are being forced to change their shopping habits and buy local (within their own countries) for speed and availability, new global research from SOTI has found.

Consumers are feeling the effects of supply chain issues firsthand, with over half (57%) of global consumers (58% UK) saying they have recently experienced one or more items not being available, have had to purchase alternatives when preferred products were not available, or have had to go to different retailers to find items in stock. Worse still, over one third of shoppers (35% global/38% UK) said items they wanted to purchase have not been available at all.

Compounding these supply issues, more than a third (34% global/30% UK) said they feel delivery times have been slower than usual and more than half (53% global and UK) said that shipping/delivery time is the most frustrating aspect of ordering online.

Unwilling to compromise on speed and availability, consumers are now paying special attention to the purchasing journey. More than a third (36% global and UK) said that if delivery or pick up of an item takes longer than two days, they will look elsewhere. Meanwhile, with deliveries from outside their own country now taking longer to arrive, more than half of consumers (52% global/60% UK) have changed their habits, saying they are now less likely to order an item that requires shipping from overseas than they were a year ago.

As part of the From Clicks to Ships: Navigating the Global Supply Chain Crisis 2022 Report, SOTI surveyed 10,000 consumers across the UK, U.S., Canada, Mexico, Germany, Sweden, France and Australia to understand how consumers are responding to the supply chain crisis, as well as their expectations of brands and retailers to cope with it.

Changing Consumer Attitudes and Behaviours Set to Continue

It’s clear from the findings that consumers are unwilling to give retailers any leeway. When asked about their expectations and intentions:

  • Over two thirds (68% global and UK) agreed that they now expect to know where their order is throughout the delivery process at all times
  • More than half (61% global/60% UK) agree they are continuing to shop with brands that can deliver goods the fastest
  • More than half (52% global and UK) agree they would be more likely to shop from a retailer’s store if multiple return points were offered
  • Over one third (35% global and UK) agreed that knowing who a retailer’s delivery partner is has resulted in them not completing an order with that retailer

Evolving in a State of Flux

The onus is now on retailers to adapt to these behaviours and match up with consumer preferences.

“Brands and retailers are having to rethink how they approach customer relationships and go-to-market strategies in response to this state of flux. It’s imperative they have the right data at their fingertips to cater to these changing consumer preferences. The brands that have the flexibility that allows them to provide the best possible customer experience, no matter how or where customers shop, will be the most resilient,” explains Sarah Edge, Director of Sales, UK and Ireland at SOTI.

Looking to the future, when asked if they would consider using any of the following alternative delivery options in 2022, 63% (global and UK) said they would consider in-store delivery/collection (“click and collect”/buy online and pick up in-store) and half (50% global/46% UK) would consider delivery to a designated drop-off point.

Consumers are also open to even more significant changes in the way they receive their goods as technology advances. Almost half (46% global/45% UK) said they would consider either autonomous vehicles to deliver larger packages to their home or other convenient location, or delivery drones to deliver small packages (43% global/39% UK).

“Having the right mobile technology will help retailers to improve both their communications and customer experience across all their channels. Ensuring they have mobile-enabled operational intelligence, will give brands and retailers the ability to diagnose problems quickly and adapt fast to meet ever-changing consumer needs and preferences. The only certainty is uncertainty in this current retail environment. But, by ensuring their consumers have choice and flexibility, brands and retailers, as well as their logistics partners, can prepare themselves for all eventualities,” concludes Edge. 

Report Methodology

10,000 interviews were conducted using an online methodology with adults aged 18 to 65 years old with nationally representative quotas on gender, age and region set at country-level between November 20 and December 2, 2021. The 10,000 interviews are split across eight markets as follows: UK (2,000 respondents), U.S. (2,000 respondents), Canada (1,000 respondents), Mexico (1,000 respondents), Germany (1,000 respondents), Sweden (1,000 respondents), France (1,000 respondents) and Australia (1,000 respondents).

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