More than three quarters of UK consumers say reliable delivery is there number one priority, according to a report from UPS.

Released today, the 'UPS Smart E-commerce Report 2021' developed in partnership with YouGov, surveyed 10,000 consumers across Europe including 2,000 UK consumers, to establish the impact of the recent pandemic on consumer demand in the long-term.

The research showed that 79% of UK consumers say the reliability of a retailer’s delivery partner is important, emphasising the need for delivery firms to optimize their service offerings to stay competitive.

The shift from high street to online shopping continues to increase, the report found with a 67% rise in consumers’ intending to shop entirely or mostly online.

Another significant rise will be in online grocery shopping with the UK expected to see a 66% rise in this sector.

Environmental concerns will also increasingly drive choice, according to the research, with 54% of UK consumers want large retailers to work with delivery providers who use electric or low-emission vehicles and 53% of UK consumers wanting large, well-known national or international retailers to have carbon footprint offsetting for deliveries.

Free delivery continues to be a major pull for consumers, the report said, with 54% of UK consumers confirming they will opt to buy online because of free delivery options. Another 63% said free returns are an important factor when choosing to shop online.

The survey also revealed consumer concerns around Brexit with 66% of UK consumers surveyed believing products and goods bought from the EU would become more expensive and another 64% believing they will take longer to arrive due to new customs requirements.

Meanwhile, 72% of consumers from the EU countries surveyed said buying from the UK would become more expensive, with 69% believing shipping goods from the UK would take longer.

Across Europe, 57% of consumers believe they will reduce their overall spending in 2021, in response to the impact of the pandemic.

Arthur Lam, UPS UK marketing director, said: “The pandemic has accelerated digital shopping trends in an unprecedented manner. As the market becomes more competitive for e-commerce businesses, differentiation, through personalized customer services will become even more essential for those looking to stand out.

“Understanding consumers’ priorities and their expectations of online shopping is a vital part of our mission to deliver what matters to retailers and consumers alike.”