NRF: More Online Shoppers Expect Free Delivery

Consumers buying products online expect retailers to offer free delivery, but are also embracing new options such as store pickup, according to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation.

The report found that 75% of consumers surveyed expect delivery to be free even on orders less than $50, up from 68% a year ago.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) demand free shipping the most, with 88% expecting it. That compares with 77% for Generation X (1965-1980), 61% for Millennials (1981-1994) and 76% for Generation Z (1995 and later).

Many consumers now consider shipping costs even before getting to the checkout page, with 65% saying they look up free-shipping thresholds before adding items to their online shopping carts. Consumers also want their products fast, with 39% expecting two-day shipping to be free, and 29% have backed out of a purchase because two-day shipping wasn’t free.

The survey found that 70% of consumers who are aware of buying online and picking up in store had tried it, and the top reason for doing so was to avoid paying for shipping.

Picking up at the cash register is still the most frequent practice, done by 83% of those who have bought online and picked up in-store. But as options grow, 63% would like to be able to use curbside pickup (tried so far by only 27%), 56% want merchandise delivered to the trunk of their cars (tried by 19%) and 50% want to retrieve purchases from a locker (tried by 16%).

“Consumers want free delivery, and they’re willing to meet retailers halfway to get it,” said Mark Mathews, vp/research development and industry analysis with the NRF. “If we can get their purchase to the store, they’ll come pick it up if that’s what it takes to avoid a delivery charge. And once they’re in the store, they are very open to seeing what else the retailer has to offer. This is part of the growing evidence that consumers see retail as retail regardless of how they make their purchases and get them.”