NRF Study Finds 75% of U.S. Consumers Expect Free Shipping

Free shipping for ecommerce orders is an increasingly high priority for U.S. consumers, who are also embracing buy online pickup in store in droves, according to a new Consumer View report from the National Retail Federation.

The report found that 75% of U.S. consumers expect free shipping even on orders under $50, up from 68% in 2017.

“Consumers want free delivery, and they’re willing to meet retailers halfway to get it,” said NRF Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis Mark Mathews. “If we can get their purchase to the store, they’ll come pick it up if that’s what it takes to avoid a delivery charge. And once they’re in the store, they are very open to seeing what else the retailer has to offer.”

Choices and convenience continue to be the watchwords in terms of consumer expectations for the shopping experience, and retailers are continuing to push the envelope to meet those demands, the NRF found.

Surprisingly, the greatest demand for free shipping was from baby boomers at 88%, followed by 77% for Generation X, 61% for millennials and 76% percent for Generation Z (born in 1995 or later).

Shipping costs become an issue even before the checkout page, NRF found: 65% of consumers said they look it up before adding items to a cart. Speed of course is also a priority, with 39% expecting two-day shipping to be free, and 29% have bagged a purchase if it wasn’t offered.

The survey found that 70% of consumers who know about BOPIS have tried it, with ditching shipping costs the main reason. Picking up at the cash register is still the most frequent practice, cited by 83% of those who have used BOPIS.

Curbside pickup, a growing trend, is also proving popular, NRF found, with 63% saying they’d like to try it; only 27% said they had. Over half of respondents (56%) want their orders delivered to the trunk of their car, which 19% have tried, and 50% want the option of a pickup locker (tried by 16%).

Special events are also a popular item with consumers. Fifty-eight percent of respondents expressed interest in going to retail events, with 87% saying they would come in for a sale or early/exclusive access to items, 81% for a party, 80% for a product demonstration, 71% for a game or competition, and 69% to interact with a product expert or visit a pop-up shop.

Consumer View is issued quarterly by the NRF to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends in stores and online, as well as customer loyalty, technology and other topics. Toluna Analytics surveyed 3,002 U.S. adults 18 or older from Oct. 23 through Nov. 30, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2%.

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