Online shoppers here a disgruntled lot: Poll

Online shopping may be taking off here, but many consumers are none too happy with their experiences, according to a new survey.

The survey commissioned by logistics giant UPS found that only 51 per cent of 1,000 Singapore online shopper polled were satisfied with the services they had received - the second lowest score globally after Hong Kong, which had 38 per cent.

In the United States, the score was highest at 83 per cent. Europe scored 78 per cent, while China scored 60 per cent.

The main grouses here: lack of choice of delivery date, inconvenient pick-up locations and inability to choose a specified time of day for delivery.

Consumers were also unhappy about high shipping costs, damaged items, lengthy delivery times, inability to get refunds and being unable to contact the retailer due to missing contact details.

Singaporeans were also found to have the highest tendency in Asia to abandon their "carts" during the online purchasing process.

This typically happened after shoppers had discovered that delivery costs were higher than expected, or that the expected shipping time was not provided.

Singaporean shoppers ranked free or discounted shipping as the most important aspect of e-commerce, followed by an easy return or exchange process.

The survey, which covered 13 countries, was conducted here in February.

The dissatisfaction, said Singapore Polytechnic business school lecturer Randy Ng, who specialises in online retailing, could be due to the widespread use of e-concierge services.

Such third-party services help online shoppers buy items from overseas shops that recognise only local delivery addresses or accept only local credit cards.

"Things are slower when a third party is used," said Mr Ng.

"Goods sometimes stay in the local agent's office until they accumulate and are sent over at one shot... Some of these agents may not let customers choose delivery times or have fewer collection points."

Mr Ng added that about 40 per cent of online shoppers here shop locally and the market here is still nascent, so local retailers may lack experience and operate less sophisticated sites.

Mr Brandon Lee, 33, related an unsatisfactory experience he had when he ordered a package of seven items from an online Hong Kong store. When it arrived, several items were missing.

"It was hard to speak to the customer support people, who could not understand me. I wrote to them, and called them. In the end, it was easier to forget it," said the manager of an advertising company.

"I think the fact that we're far away opens up many problems. Shipping is a real pain in terms of cost. You don't know when you will get your package unless you upgrade."

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.