Flexibility of Shipping Options Important to Online Shoppers

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

e-commerceTrying to find where sales go awry is one of the hardest challenges for internet marketers. There are a lot of factors that influence how people interact with ecommerce sites and relatively small features can have a large effect on the overall conversion rate for a site. A recent from comScore showed just how important options are to ecommerce shoppers. Improving the flexibility of a site can increase revenues for online retailers.

Consumers want the best possible online shopping experience but what constitutes a good ecommerce experience varies from person to person. However, there are a few things that marketers can count on. By providing flexible options and making certain information easy to find, business owners can increase their ecommerce sales.

The study found that delivery and shipping options matter a lot to consumers. Delivery and shipping affect to of the most important factors for online shoppers. First, these options decide how long the consumer must wait before they can enjoy their purchase. Second, delivery options affect the price. A cheap item can easily move into a different price range when delivery costs are added.

The study found that free shipping is more important to consumers than fast shipping. According to comScore, 83 percent of US online shoppers are willing to wait an additional two days for delivery if shipping is free. Similarly, 58 percent of US online shoppers have added items to their shopping carts to qualify for free shipping.

“Consumers demand more from their package delivery experience, and today’s online shopper expects us to respond by creating solutions convenient for them” stated Derrick Johnson, UPS vice president, global segments.

The comScore study also noted the importance of return policy information. One would assume that people would be more likely to shop when they feel assured that they won’t get stuck with something they don’t like. The researchers found two-thirds (66%) of US online shoppers view a retailer’s returns policy before making a purchase. Ecommerce site owners would be wise to make the return policy readily accessible from any part of the site. If the return policy has any special features that would attract consumers (i.e. money-back guarantees, etc.) these should be prominently displayed on product pages.

A different study from Nielsen shows how options can help grocery stores sell more items to seniors. In the study “The Aging Population is Growing, and So Are its Retail Needs”, Nielsen reported that 17 percent of North American seniors order groceries online for in-store pickup. Besides in-store pickup, an additional 12 percent of North American seniors order groceries online for pickup via drive-through windows. Stores that are willing to setup curbside pick will reach another 11 percent of seniors.

“When we look at the results from a recent Nielsen global aging survey, North American respondents indicated that certain store features or services “don’t meet or only partially meet the needs” of aging consumers,” the study’s author wrote in a press release.

The key takeaway from both of these studies is that flexibility matters to online shoppers. Different people want different things from their online shopping experience, so providing flexible options ensures that most shoppers will be able to find an option that works for them. People will adjust their shopping habits to get delivery options that work for them, so business owners should do what it takes to make those options (e.g. free shipping, curbside pickup, etc.) available. For more advice on ecommerce sales, read this article on with the latest statistics about ecommerce.


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