February 16, 2012, 10:44 AM

U.K. e-retailers offer speedy delivery options in vain

More than four in five e-shoppers choose standard over premium delivery.

Lead Photo

A survey of online consumers in the United Kingdom has found e-retailers are needlessly providing a range of additional delivery options to online shoppers, as the majority of shoppers prefer standard delivery.

In a June survey of 2,000 consumers by distribution services company P2P Mailing Limited, 86% of consumers selected standard delivery when ordering for themselves. “Premium-rated delivery options are actually far less popular and significant to consumers than online retailers presume,” P2P said about the survey results.

The major exception is electronic goods: 35% of consumers opt for special delivery options for those products.

P2P says the survey set out to test anecdotal evidence that British e-retailers were wasting time providing an array of delivery choices, assuming consumers wanted those options.

“This assumption has led them to believe that offering a range of complex and expensive premium options will provide them with the competitive advantage they need to separate them from other e-retailers in their segment,” the study concludes.

The study did find that consumers are more likely to choose next-day or other premium delivery services for higher-value items. When ordering expensive products, starting at 50 British pounds (US$79), they also are more likely to choose track & trace, a Royal Mail service that lets that monitor the delivery of their purchases.

“A value above 50 pounds appears to significantly influence consumers to select special delivery,” concludes the survey. “91% of consumers would select standard delivery for orders under 50 pounds, but only 58% would do so for orders above 50 pounds, and 35% for orders over 200 pounds (US$316).”

The only instance when more e-consumers prefer next-day delivery to standard shipping is for orders valued over 100 pounds (US$158).

For those higher-value items, 30% of consumers choose track and trace. That compares with 13% choosing that option for goods under 100 pounds.

“For items over this value, standard delivery finally becomes a minority option with only 40% of consumers selecting standard delivery for items worth between 100 to 199 pounds—23% selecting next-day delivery—and 30% choosing track and trace,” the poll finds.

40% of consumers opt for track & trace for items valued over 200 pounds.

“Evidently, where a larger sum of money is involved, U.K. consumers prefer to either receive the item faster, or to be able to track the progress of their item,” says P2P.

Online shoppers are also more likely to choose faster shipping when buying gifts. “When purchasing for others there is a greater sense of urgency, with more consumers selecting special delivery options,” the report concludes.

The percentage of online consumers opting for next-day delivery increased to 31% for those ordering birthday presents, 28% for Christmas gifts and 24% for wedding gifts.

Finally, the study points to some age and gender differences in consumer behavior regarding delivery alternatives.

Higher numbers of consumers 56 and older pick standard delivery—but that is the least popular choice for 18-22-year-olds.

89% of women opt for regular delivery on non-electronic goods, compared to 82% of men, while 9% of both sexes favor special delivery on clothing items.

The United Kingdom is Europe’s leading e-commerce market according to the Interactive Media in Retail Group, an e-commerce trade association. The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reports £7.9 billion (US$12.45 billion) was spent by online consumers in the United Kingdom in December, a 16.5% increase over the same month the previous year.



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