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Surprise, surprise, customers like their free shipping and return labels
It's no secret or surprise that online shopping continues to dominate traditional brick-and-mortar shopping. With the holidays right around the corner, this trend is sure to continue, with people scouring Amazon, Wish, and online SMBs looking for the perfect gifts for loved ones.
One factor that comes into play when discussing the "perfect" aspect of a gift is how the ecommerce site handles shipping. Is it free? Is it at least fast? Day in and day out customers make snap decisions on what they'll buy and shipping absolutely factors into that.
With customer demands changing, it also means ecommerce retailers have had to adapt to meet the trends.
A new study from Shippo, a company focused on shipping and helping ecommerce ventures seamlessly integrate shipping with various carriers, looks at the dance between customers and retailers when it comes to shipping.
There is a bunch of interesting information here, but there are a few key takeaways that are worth highlighting.
For one, there's been a rather large drop in the number of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that have dropped universal free shipping options. According to the study, 40% of those surveyed offered it all the time in 2016 while only 21% continue to do it in 2019.
This makes sense as there are certainly specific times during the year where that can be more advantageous to the stores that manually set free shipping periods.
Another interesting takeaway was the surveyed consumers' thoughts on free shipping and its importance in purchasing decisions. While 21% of online stores may offer consistent free shipping across the board, 27% of consumers stated they will only make a purchase when shipping is free. Another 20% said they would swap stores if it meant getting free shipping.
The final note worth highlighting looks at consumer expectations when it comes to returns. There's not much worse than being excited to get something only for it to come in and not meet expectations. Not only is it disappointing, but it means you're going to have to deal with the website if you are to send it back or exchange it for something else.
Which means both consumer and website will have to deal with a return label. Where it was once more widely accepted that the customer would be responsible for providing and paying for things like the return label, growth in online avenues like Amazon has started to change how consumers expect the return process of online shopping to be as a whole.
From the survey, 30% of consumers stated they would only shop from places that offered free returns. On the retailer end, almost 30% of those surveyed are now offering free returns. This number is up quite a bit from 2016, where only 14% stated they offered the service for free.
Overall, the survey is pretty interesting from a retailer's point of view. Having dabbled in my own ecommerce ventures it's interesting to see just how much shipping and return shipping can affect a consumer's decisions.
You can find the full report here.
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