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Consumers’ Shipping Preferences – Whether Free or Fast, Retailers Must Remain Flexible

As e-commerce grows, consumers’ preferences continue to expand and evolve. The prevalence of online marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba have raised the bar on shipping options, with many consumers increasingly expecting free shipping and faster shipping.

In the wake of the COVID-19 global health crisis and subsequent stay-at-home mandates, many consumers have turned to online shopping to buy necessities, creating even greater demand. This unprecedented uptick in online orders even impacted e-commerce giant Amazon, with many deliveries delayed as long as a month on some items.

Flexibility is Key

New call-to-actionWhether during a pandemic or when assessing everyday e-commerce shipping strategies, to help effectively address these challenges, retailers need to offer flexible shipping options to cater to a wide array of online shopping preferences.

Consumers are often willing to compromise on delivery time in exchange for free shipping, for example. According to a global consumer insights study from Radial, only 24% of U.S. shoppers would be willing to pay up to $10 for delivery, while 64% expect free delivery for all their online purchases. Deloitte also found that 85% of shoppers prefer free shipping over fast shipping and, among those consumers, 80% are willing to wait three days or more.

Ultimately, offering fast and flexible shipping services will help retailers maximize the customer experience, foster brand loyalty, and remain competitive.

Defining Fast Shipping

Fast shipping doesn’t always mean deliveries need to arrive next day. Undoubtedly, Amazon has changed the game and shaped consumers’ higher expectations by offering two-day, then next day, and sometimes even same-day shipping. In the last year, big box retailers like Target and Walmart upped the ante by matching one-day shipping capabilities. Still, Radial found that only 35% percent of Americans expect their goods to arrive in two days or less.

While customers want fast deliveries, their expectations are more reasonable when certain orders may take longer than others if they’re offered alternative shipping choices. Considering the general needs of their own customers and catering to the unique needs, location, and preferences of each customer can help retailers ensure success by offering customers the right shipping rates and options.

Carrier Considerations

One of the most effective ways to meet customers’ shipping needs is to explore various carrier service options to determine the best value for each parcel shipment. Comparing carrier rates and services can help retailers provide fast and cost-effective shipping.

In some regions, local delivery companies and couriers may deliver more quickly to customers than the big carriers at very competitive rates. In many cases, the best delivery option is the United States Postal Service (USPS), and retailers should be sure to consider it. USPS is, after all, often the least expensive service for last-mile delivery. Its Priority Mail service delivers most domestic packages in under two days with no hidden fees or surcharges and includes tracking capabilities.

Yet, just when USPS has proven itself essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, its future seems especially tenuous. As Intelligent Audit states, USPS remains an important partner for many e-commerce businesses; if it were to fold, the effects would mean greater strain on other carriers like UPS and FedEx.

Stay Agile to Serve Customer Needs

A Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping empowers retailers to remain flexible to adjust to consumers’ unique shipping preferences while achieving on-time delivery at the optimal cost. Logistyx optimizes carrier service selection – whether shipping domestically using one carrier or shipping worldwide using 100, the right parcel shipping strategy can help retailers excel at providing customers with a quality delivery experience.

Retailers can utilize Logistyx to better understand customers’ delivery preferences by leveraging data to analyze, optimize, and inform shipping strategies. They can also tap into an unmatched multi-carrier network and automatically select carriers to provide fast and affordable deliveries.

As e-commerce continues its rapid growth and platforms like Amazon keep raising shipping expectations, a TMS for parcel shipping can equip retailers with the advanced tools required to compete and effectively fulfill consumers’ evolving shipping preferences.

Learn more about how the Logistyx Parcel TMS can help you achieve efficiencies in e-commerce shipping.