Free Still Trumps Quick for Shipping Options, Shoppers Say

No-cost shipping remains a key factor

October 25, 2017

When it comes to delivery options, quicker is nice—but free is nicer.

That’s the sentiment of US shoppers polled by eMiles, which asked its members what factors they consider when deciding where to shop online.

Free shipping was the single most cited response, at 63%. By comparison, just 23% of shoppers said “next-day or same-day delivery” was a factor in choosing a retailer.

Security policies also ranked high, with 60% of respondents saying they considered them.

The eMiles survey aligns with a wealth of data suggesting that consumers are more interested in free shipping than speedy delivery.

As an example, a Walker Sands Communications survey in March 2017 found that 80% of US internet users polled said free shipping would encourage them to buy digitally, compared with 36% who said same of next-day shipping.

But attitudes can change. Speaking at a Shoptalk conference earlier this year, Amazon’s Stephenie Landry noted that consumers’ expectations of Amazon had evolved rapidly. “When Prime [two-day free delivery service started] in 2005, a lot of people said, ‘Do you need two-day delivery?’ Now it feels slow to wait for five days.”

A recent study by Temando about shopping cart abandonment hints at changing tastes. It found that fewer digital shoppers in the US said they abandoned carts because of expensive shipping (54% in 2017, vs. 63% a year earlier), while slightly more said slow shipping was a reason to abandon a cart (26% this year, compared with 22% in 2016.)