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Holiday Shoppers Want Speed – Not Just Free Shipping

Nov. 5, 2019
The importance of speed in holiday deliveries has doubled since last year.

Retailers might have thought that they were covered if they were cost competitive. Well, they will have to think again, because right behind cost is speed as the most important factor when it comes to delivering holiday gifts this year, according to the third annual survey conducted by Austin-based Convey.

A new report, entitled "Last Mile Delivery Wars" surveyed more than 2,500 US consumers, 94.9% of whom plan to shop online this season. 

The fast, free shipping enjoyed by an estimated 100 million subscribers to Amazon's Prime service is setting a high bar for the retail industry as a whole. The study found there is a strong Amazon effect when it comes to shipping this holiday, with twice as many consumers saying speed is a critical factor this year versus last.

“For brands that like to think they aren't competing with Amazon, the data clearly suggests that shoppers think they are,” said Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, Chief Growth Officer at Convey.

 Some key findings of the survey are as follows:

  • 3 in 5 respondents (64.3%) cite ‘cost’ as the most important factor when it comes to shipping. However, ‘speed’ was cited second by nearly 1 in 5 respondents (18.7%) – twice as many as last year (9.7% in 2018).
  • A faster estimated delivery date in the online shopping cart has a big impact on purchase decisions, with 28.6% of shoppers saying they'd be more likely to buy if the order would arrive within a week, compared with just 7.5% who say the shipping date doesn't impact their likelihood to buy.
  • Nearly 8 in 10 respondents (79.3%) cited ‘free 2-day shipping’ as important.  By contrast, just 30.8% of respondents said ‘in-store pickup’ is important, suggesting that the alternative retailers have come to rely on as a means for competing on fast and free fulfillment pales in comparison to speedy delivery.

Porch Piracy Top of Mind

The rise in eCommerce has led to an increase in thieves that steal packages from shopper’s doorsteps or porches. These ‘porch pirates’ are keenly aware of the shopping holidays that spike deliveries, just like the rest of Americans.

  • Late delivery of packages is the number one concern this holiday (38.6%). But second is the fear of theft, with 1 in 5 shoppers (21.9%) saying they are worried their packages will be stolen after delivery.
  • Given this concern, it's no surprise that two-thirds of shoppers (66.5%) say the ability to track packages en route is an important service, while 12.8% say they'd like the option to change delivery destinations once orders are in transit.

Get Delivery Right or Lose Customers

The stakes are high for retailers to provide a memorable online shopping experience during the holiday boom. Although shipping and delivery mishaps may be unavoidable, transparency is essential in order to maintain a positive experience. Expectations for brands, not just carriers, to communicate delays are now universal.

  • More than 8 in 10 shoppers (83.7%) say that delivery is important to the overall shopping experience, up from 73.6% in 2018. And for 4 in 10 shoppers (43.8%), the delivery experience is considered very important.
  • 98.3% of respondents said they want a notification in some form if their delivery is late – up more than 10% from last year (87.8% in 2018).  Shoppers overwhelmingly prefer to be notified via email (55%) and SMS (32.5%) if their package is late. By contrast, just 1 in 10 expects to have to visit a tracking page to find out about delays (10.2%).
  • Overall, more than 7 in 10 (72.7%) shoppers say they are unlikely to purchase from a brand again after a poor delivery experience. With the holiday stakes so high, retailers should pay close attention to this key metric.

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