Free Shipping is the Holy Grail for Many Internet Shoppers - What Would it Take for You to Buy Online?

By Allison Boccamazzo March 06, 2013

At first, I found this topic to be hilariously unrealistic. I don't know about you, but I am a more than willing victim to the throes of online shopping. When Storm Nemo snowed all of us New Englanders in during last month's monster blizzard, I admittedly took to some therapeutic online shopping while waiting for the plows to dig us out. But then again, I am a tech-saavy female in her early twenties with a credit card and a love of fashion. I thought that was what almost everybody else did, too, that is, until I stumbled across a consumer survey recently conducted by The Boston Consulting Group, which presented some e-commerce challenges I never even stopped to think of.

In the survey, 1,500 U.S. consumers were asked what it would take to finally get them online and buying. The results showed that 9 percent cited same-day delivery as having something to do with their decision – something that a lot of us (myself included) wish we could partake in more if it weren’t so expensive.

Image via Shutterstock

Let’s do some real world research here. When visiting a well-known fashion retailer's, Urban Outfitters, website to shop online, it is immediately brings to your attention in red, bold lettering that free shipping is offered on any order over $50. When you click for more details, the company proceeds to tell you that you will have to pay a $10 flat rate shipping fee on all orders under $50. 

Image via Urban Outfitters

However, after doing some more digging, you’ll see on the company’s website that a next-day shipping fee is a steep $35 for orders under $50 and $25 for orders over $50.

It’s no wonder why e-commerce can sometimes suffer, seeing how survey participants said they would be willing to pay no more than $7.50 for same-day shipping fees on average for a purchase of $50 or more – the reality lies completely unparallel to the customer demand. While same-day delivery is a huge incentive to online shop, in today’s economy, it’s simply not worth it if the prices are this high – and the one’s cited above for next-day shipping, not even same-day – which will of course be even higher.

The majority – almost 75 percent – of respondents said free shipping across the board would be the deal-breaker for them. While companies offer free shipping at certain price points to encourage higher spending rates, they would undoubtedly get more overall purchases if they offered free shipping. Consider the unfathomably high sales companies accrue during semi-annual events, holiday sales and Cyber Monday when they offer free shipping on all orders – it’s like the Holy Grail for online consumers.

Big name contenders in the space such as Amazon and Google have also been battling it out to one-up each other in response to this overwhelming customer demand. Yahoo reported that “same-day delivery has become the latest retail battleground, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc, eBay Inc and several other companies chasing Amazon.com Inc, which has been offering the service on selected items in certain cities since 2009.” Continuing, “Google Inc is preparing to launch a competitor to Amazon's wildly popular Prime shipping subscription service and will offer same-day delivery from bricks-and-mortar stores.”

Amazon Prime is highly enjoyed by its customers for offering multiple shipping benefits, including free two-day shipping for eligible purchases. Amazon Prime members also get free access to Amazon Instant Video and can even borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, the company explains on its site. A free trial is offered for Amazon Prime, which prospective members can then purchase for an annual fee of $79.

So the question remains: What would it take for you to become a regular online shopper?




Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

TechZone360 Web Editor

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