March 22, 2004, 12:00 AM

E-retailers turn to cheaper shipping, but delivery doesn’t suffer

While a third more retailers in The E-tailing Group’s mystery shopper survey shipped via lower cost USPS option this year vs. last, average delivery time remained the same at 4.4 days.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Order delivery times have not deteriorated in the past year even though online retailers are shifting to lower cost shipping, reports Chicago-based consultants The E-tailing Group Inc. The average time to receive a package from 100 sites that E-tailing Group researchers mystery-shopped was 4.4 days, exactly the same as the prior year.

At the same time, the number of retailers shipping via U.S. Postal Service ground rose by a third, from 33% of retailers in the survey to 45%. Only 3% used the Postal Service’s priority mail option vs. 10% a year ago. "The trend toward lower cost shipping methods will continue," says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group. "People are looking for all the cost cutting they can find."

The E-tailing Group’s survey reports that 48% of all packages came via some form of USPS vs. 43% last year; 34% via UPS vs. 38% a year ago; 13% via FedEx vs. 15%; and 5% other vs. 4%.

Accuracy was good, Freedman says, although three retailers never delivered the products ordered and six had the product that was ordered on back-order.

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