October 9, 2013, 3:02 PM

Free shipping, more than fast shipping, draws consumers back

Low prices and free shipping are more likely to draw consumers, Forrester says.

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Free shipping trumps fast shipping for web shoppers, Forrester Research Inc. says in a new report. Consumers in a Forrester survey cite low prices and low delivery costs as the top two reasons they’ll revisit an e-retail site. The availability of fast shipping, meanwhile, fell much farther down the list, coming in at No. 14 among the reasons they will revisit an e-retail site.

The preponderance of free shipping offers available from top retailers—92% of the top 50 e-retailers studied for the report offer some form of free shipping—has consumers shopping around for shipping deals. 53% of survey participants say low-cost shipping is an important reason why they would switch to a different online retailer.  

59% of consumers say they consider shipping costs when making online purchase decisions. Those costs stand as the most cited consideration in the survey involving purchases.  Other considerations are product ratings and reviews from other customers (43%), product information from the retailer (34%) and the retailer’s shipping policy (26%). Respondents could select more than one answer.

Given shipping’s important role in the decision-making process, Forrester says e-retailers should emphasize their shipping offers. “They should make the shipping threshold or offer prominent throughout the customer’s decision-making process, not just on the home page,” write Sucharita Mulpuru and Marcus Johnson, the Forrester analysts who wrote the report.

In their analysis of the top 50 e-retail web sites, Mulpuru and Johnson found that most retailers make only a small mention about shipping using banners on their home pages. 78% of the retailers mention their shipping details in some way on the home page, while 22% don’t mention shipping at all.

Forrester’s shipping analysis found the average minimum purchase consumers must make before qualifying for free shipping varied across product and store categories. The averages are as follows:

• Department stores   $56

• Housewares and home goods          $48

• Office supplies and books    $43

• Mass merchants      $33

• Electronics               $30

• Personal care products        $25

 

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