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USA 2021 REPORT: The US consumer in focus

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The brand new USA 2021: Country Report explores the ecommerce landscape in one of the world’s most influential B2C markets. 

Driven by market-leading analysis, our latest Country Report provides a window into the mind of the US consumer, including digital maturity, delivery preferences and shifting shopping habits.

Digital Editor, Scarlette Isaac, covers some of the key takeaways. 

The US is logging in to the digital world 

The majority of the US population is happy using the internet, with 75% shopping online in 2020. This is above the global average and ahead of the percentage of internet users shopping online across North American countries as a whole.

In terms of device usage, smartphones were revealed as the most popular choice among US consumers, with 65% saying they had done so in the last 12 months. This is closely followed by laptops (51%) and then desktops (30%). 

11% of consumers have used a smart TV to make a purchase, 10% did so via a smart speaker such as an Amazon Echo device, while 8% have used a streaming device, such as Apple TV or Chromecast, to shop.

Gen X fuelling online demand 

Zooming in on the distribution of digital buyers by age, almost everyone under 50 uses the internet. 99% of the population aged 18 to 29 accesses content online, with 98% of those in the 30 to 49 age bracket doing so as well. 

Although we have seen the biggest increase in internet usage amongst our baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964), it is the 25 to 34-year old age group that makes up the largest percentage of online shoppers. 

Gen X (those born between 1965 and 1980) take the crown when it comes to ecommerce activity, with 46% purchasing online on a weekly to daily basis. They also account for a larger share of daily or weekly shoppers in bricks-and-mortar stores.

The percentage of daily or weekly online shoppers is also high among millennials (people born between 1981 and the mid 1990s). 44% of this group, which is aged between 25 and roughly 40 years old, shop online daily or weekly, against 49% that say that do so in

physical stores.

Land of the free (returns) 

A seamless returns process is always high on the priority list for consumers – but what exactly does this mean to US consumers? 

Our research found that the biggest point of irritation when returning online is having to pay shipping costs (26%). Retailers including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Zappos and Urban Outfitters have all offered free returns. Shoe retailer Zappos is heralded as a leader in customer service, allowing customers to return an order for free at any time within a year.

The hassle of having to drop off a package at a mail facility was ranked as the biggest pain point (25%), followed by lack of exchange options (23%). Some brands and retailers still expect consumers to return an item for a refund then order a new item rather than allowing an exchange in one transaction. 

According to a study by Statista, US sellers must be listening to their customers as a majoritive 56% of consumers said they did not return any goods to retailers or brands within the last 12 months. 

Further analysis, case studies and exclusive RetailX graphs can be found in the full USA Report 2021. Download here. 

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