The Influence of Shipping Costs on Online Shoppers

UPScomScore-Influence-Shipping-Costs-on-Online-Shoppers-June2013For the second consecutive year, UPS and comScore have teamed up to release the “UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper” [pdf] study. And if there’s one takeaway from this year’s study, it’s that shipping costs plays a huge role in influencing online shoppers’ attitudes and behavior. When asked their top drivers of positive recommendations for an online retailer, a leading 68% of respondents cited free shipping, easily the top answer. And when asked their top drivers for negative recommendations, a leading 59% cited shipping costs being too high based on the product price. Not only do shipping costs drive recommendations, both positive and negative, but they’re also the leading culprit in shopping cart abandonment.

This year, 88% of online shoppers said they have abandoned a cart, up from 81% last year. Among those shoppers, the top reason given for abandoning their cart was that shipping costs made the total purchase cost more than expected (54%). In fact, when considering the options they consider important in the check-out process, 76% of respondents overall (who were required to make a minimum of 2 online purchases in a 3-month period) cited free shipping options. That was (predictably, at this point) the top response.

Looking more closely at online shoppers’ attitudes to shipping and delivery times, the study finds that:

  • 60% are willing to wait 6 days or longer for most of their online purchases to be delivered, with the average time they are willing to wait being 7.2 days;
  • 44% of shoppers have abandoned a cart due to delivery time, and among those, about three-quarters said the estimated delivery time given was equal to or more than 8 days (53%) or no date at all (21%);
  • A leading 78% of respondents select the economy ground shipping option most often, and while 67% expect a ground option (3-5 day time in transit for an additional fee), only 16% most often select this option; and
  • The best returns experiences involve free shipping (65%) and a “no questions asked” returns policy (58%).

About the Data: The study analyzes data from a survey of more than 3,000 U.S. online shoppers conducted in February 2013. These results are compared to results of a similar survey of 3,100 U.S. online shoppers conducted in February 2012. All shoppers surveyed had to meet the criteria of making at least two online purchases in a typical 3-month period. Among those surveyed, 41% indicated they made 2-3 online purchases, 33% made 4-6 purchases, and 27% made 7 or more purchases