Survey: Free shipping more important to consumers than fast shipping

Stamford, Conn. -- Among Americans who purchased a product that required shipping this year, 80% consider shipping options, including free shipping, to be an important factor in their overall shopping experience, according to a recent survey commissioned by Pitney Bowes Inc. The survey found free shipping is by far more important to Americans surveyed over fast shipping (77% versus 19%).  

“Shipping has become a considerable factor in consumers’ buying choices. In fact, there’s now a blurred line between the decision on a shipping method and the selection of a product when comes to the overall buying decision and customer experience and free shipping is just table stakes today,” said Jim Hendrickson, VP and general manager of shipping solutions, Pitney Bowes.

With access to goods from many sources, consumers are prepared to walk away from a purchase if presented with excessive shipping costs. And, they do.

Among those surveyed, half (49%) have at some time abandoned their shopping cart, whether online, in store, or over the phone, due to shipping costs. On average, the threshold for abandoning a purchase occurs when shipping fees are $20 or more. Men have a higher threshold for cost, with $24 for shipping being the average tipping point.

While nine-in-10 (89%) of Americans have made an online purchase at some point this year, only half (46%) those surveyed have returned a package through the mail.

“Simplifying the return process with enclosed return mailing envelopes, free shipping, prepared labels and generous return policies are all part of what the consumer now expects,” Hendrickson added.

The survey found that 81%  of consumers who made a purchase requiring shipping in the last year have tracked a package, with 30% tracking once or twice, 21% tracking three-to-five times and 30% tracking six or more times.

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