The lure of free shipping
According to a UPS study, four out of five consumers feel that free shipping is an important factor when making a purchase online. Ninety-three percent have taken action — including bundling more items and choosing slower delivery — to qualify for free shipping.
According to the survey of 5,849 consumers conducted by comScore in conjunction with UPS, placing additional items in the cart is the most common action taken to qualify for free shipping, with 58 percent claiming to have done so.
Other actions shoppers have taken to get free shipping include:
- Choosing slow transit times (50 percent);
- Searching online for promo codes (47 percent);
- Choosing ship-to-store as a means to avoid paying shipping costs (35 percent);
- Joining a loyalty program to qualify for free shipping (31 percent);
- Delaying a purchase to wait for a free shipping offer (30 percent);
- Choosing to shop at a retailer’s physical store instead of online (28 percent);
- Purchasing an alternative product priced above a retailer’s free shipping threshold (16 percent).
Only seven percent do not take action to quality for free shipping, according to the study.
Around delivery times, 83 percent of consumers are willing to wait an additional two days for their packages to arrive to receive free shipping. UPS did note that sellers of commodity goods that are readily available at local retailers may need to deliver quicker, while retailers of proprietary goods may have more leeway with their delivery times.
More than one-half of online shoppers said they want to see the total purchase cost early in the checkout process, and the majority prefer seeing the expected arrival date rather than the number of days it will take for the product to arrive.
Overall, UPS offered three suggestions for retailers in exploring the "Free Shipping" option:
- Understand the patterns that matter and how long shoppers are willing to wait for free shipping;
- Monitor your time frames to receive products while staying aware of the competitive landscape;
- Assess whether you can absorb these costs as a marketing expense and what strategies will be put in place to preserve desired margin while remaining competitive.
- UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper – UPS
- Study: Consumers Demand More Flexibility When Shopping Online – UPS
- Free Shipping: Perk or Permanent? – RetailWire
What guidelines would you suggest around using “free shipping” as an incentive for online shoppers? Are online retailers offering year-round free shipping missing a powerful selling tool?