Retail

Why Fast And Free Delivery Matters To Consumers

When it comes to delivery, “fast” isn’t fast enough anymore for a lot of consumers.

A recent story in The Wall Street Journal takes a look at how — thanks in large part to Amazon Prime (and, more recently, Amazon Prime Now) — online shoppers’ increasingly unforgiving expectations with regards to the speed and the cost of delivery of their items is forcing eCommerce retailers to put the pedal to the metal, as it were, or risk getting left in the dust.

WSJ cites a 2015 holiday survey from Deloitte showing that more than nine out of 10 shoppers consider “same-day,” “next-day” and “two-day” delivery to be “fast,” while only 63 percent would use that term to describe three-to-four-day shipping and a scant 18 percent would deem five-to-seven-day shipping as “fast.”

The same survey also bore out that online shoppers would, on average, pay, at most, $5.10 for same-day shipping, while 25 percent would expect to pay nothing at all.

“Amazon kind of set the path for everyone with Prime. People just expect things faster,” Heather Kaminetsky, vice president of global marketing at NET-A-PORTER, told WSJ.

To meet those evolving expectations, WSJ shares, retailers of all shapes and sizes — including NET-A-PORTER, Cole Haan, Gap and Everlane, among others — in addition to building more distribution centers and improving ship-to-store logistics, are exploring creative solutions to speed up shipping times and reduce the price of delivery, while keeping their own costs down.

While NET-A-PORTER has recently begun offering same-day delivery service in New York, London and Hong Kong, Cole Haan has implemented two-day shipping on online orders exceeding $250.

A company spokeswoman for Gap Inc. told WSJ that improved logistics and routing via new technology are allowing the company (which includes Banana Republic and Old Navy, as well as its namesake store) to shorten its free shipping window from seven to nine business days to five to seven business days.

The unending goal, brought about by Amazon Prime, of competing eCommerce retailers shortening the shipping window with little to no effect on the cost to consumer is, in effect, an attempt to mirror the immediacy of in-store purchases with ones made online, which, the WSJ story adds, can reduce the return rate in the latter case.

As David Maddocks, chief marketing officer at Cole Haan, told the outlet: “When you go to a store, you have that wonderful delight of carrying the bag down the street. Online, after you click, you have to wait. And, during that time, you can fall out of love.”

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