A recent survey revealed consumers’ views on shipping policy and what they look for when shopping, and be prepared to gasp. As it turns out, shipping matters.
When we talk about an ecommerce shipping policy, free shipping may be the first thing that comes to mind, and for good reason — the majority of consumers expect it. Nearly two in three of them won’t shop at an ecommerce store that doesn’t offer free shipping as an option. But free shipping isn’t the only thing that matters to them.
While nearly half of all consumers are willing to spend enough to reach the free shipping threshold, the speed of shipping is increasingly becoming more important when making purchase decisions. Communicating average transit time in shipping policies is one of the top two things consumers want to see on a checkout page. But, as it turns out, merchants reported that less than half of them provided this information.
Both the cost and speed of shipping matter to shoppers. This is an opportunity for brands.
How Brands Can Capitalize on Shipping Speed
Offering free shipping, even with a spend threshold, is step one. Step two, displaying estimated shipping timeframes, is a hidden weapon in an ecommerce brand’s marketing arsenal. Actively and visibly promoting not only free but fast shipping across your channels gives them what they want, helps build consumer confidence and converts purchases.
Ecommerce merchants should promote this customer-sought value-add in each of their marketing channels. For email and SMS, this is especially true with high purchase intent messages such as abandoned cart, browse abandonment and welcome messages. All of these target consumers at points where they likely have a high intention to purchase, but need a bit more persuasion. Knowing when they can expect their order may be all they need to secure the sale.
This active promotion reigns true regardless of the industry vertical. A recent marketing report showed verticals that had an aspect of personal enjoyment associated with them, such as hobbies and leisure and food and drink, saw better email marketing performance than those without. In contrast, verticals more prone to comparison shopping, like fashion/apparel and consumer electronics, performed worse.
Those in high-conversion verticals, even while enjoying a performance edge, can use this strategy to increase their performance further. For those in verticals where competition and comparison shopping are high, actively promoting estimated shipping times can be a difference-maker for shoppers deciding who to purchase from when in a crowded, mostly uniform sea.
Not Promoting Shipping Speed: A Cautionary Tale
Not communicating timeframes in your shipping policy, unfortunately still widespread in the industry, comes with risks. It can cost you first-time sales, repeat customers and increase negative reviews.
I recently made a first-time purchase from a brand which appeared to be a newer company. After looking at the domestic location on their “contact us” page and their social media pages, I was fully expecting a “standard” shipping time.
It went downhill from there. I received the shipping confirmation email after three days of processing my order. To my surprise, the order was being shipped from China and it would take two weeks to arrive. That might as well be an eternity for today’s consumers. As a consumer, it left a sour taste in my mouth.
I was upset about this perceived “location deception.” I gave the store a negative review, which can be especially harmful to a new brand. I will not be a repeat customer. The worst part is that knowing upfront it would take two weeks might not have been a deal-breaker for me, but that was not what I was led to believe. As they say, perception is reality.
Embrace How Your Shipping Policy Matters to Consumers
While most brands know that free shipping matters to consumers, shipping speed has also become a significant value prop (thanks Amazon!). Working to highlight and promote both to consumers gives them one less reason to abandon their shopping carts and complete their purchases with confidence.
Greg Zakowicz is a senior ecommerce expert for Omnisend