What 18,000 consumers revealed about their online shopping + delivery expectations (spoiler: you don’t have to be Amazon to get their business)

Paul Tiedt | Apr 14, 2021 Paul Tiedt 04/14/21

With last year’s accelerated surge in digital and cross-channel shopping—which included 146% growth in all online retail orders in the U.S. and Canada alone—brands were forced to take a critical eye to theirdigital transformation maturityand work quickly to evolve their strategies.

One of the biggest motivators? Trying to keep up with Amazon. With the abrupt shift from in-store to online shopping brought on by the pandemic, brands found themselves in even more competition with the e-commerce giant. But how could they compete with Prime’s two-day free shipping? Would consumers be willing to wait longer for deliver? Or pay a fee?

To get answers to these questions (and more) we turned to SurveyMini®—SMG’s location-based mobile research app—and collected feedback from more than 18,000 consumers on what they expect from brands’ shipping and delivery policies. Here are 3 key takeaways from our research:

1. Consumers don’t expect free two-day delivery

Customers’ shipping expectations are less demanding than you may think. Although the need for delivery is higher than ever, not all consumers expect brands to match Amazon Prime’s two-day free shipping.

Only 12% of respondents said the maximum number of days they’ll wait for standard shipping is two, while 37% expect standard shipping to arrive within five days. And though consumers expect standard shipping to be free, they think it’s fair to require a minimum purchase of at least $25.


2. The price of products drives purchase decisions more than delivery fees

The pandemic—and its residual economic impact—did influence consumers’ feelings about delivery costs, with 38% saying shipping fees matter to them more now than before COVID-19.


But almost half (45%) of consumers said they are more likely to make purchase decisions based on product price vs. delivery costs—with only 17% prioritizing cheapest shipping as the most important factor.



3. Most consumers care about the impact their online purchases have on the environment

Sixty-two percent of consumers care about the environmental impact of their online orders—with states in the Pacific, Mountain, and Northeast regions having the highest rate of environmentally-cautious consumers.

Those consumers are willing to wait longer for shipping to reduce the amount of packaging—with half preferring their items arrive in one delivery, even if that means an extended wait.



And when it comes to sustainability efforts, 40% of consumers say reducing the amount of packaging has the biggest impact on what businesses they order from.


Two things every retailer should do to compete with e-commerce giants

With 41% of consumers reporting they shop online weekly and 79% shopping online at least once a month, brands have a big opportunity to win customers’ online business. Here’s how:

1. Provide shipping options. Get a leg up on the competition by offering free or reduced shipping options for customers—but don’t be afraid to require a minimum purchase amount for free shipping. More frequent online shoppers expect their orders to arrive sooner, while less frequent shoppers are willing to wait for standard shipping so long as it’s free.

2. Focus on reduced packaging. Consider which products need less packaging and try to consolidate orders to minimize the number of packages shipped. Be sure to communicate to customers the steps you are taking to reduce packaging and help protect the environment.

For more retail trends you should be monitoring and acting on this year, read the report: 4 retail industry trends shaping the future of CX.

Paul Tiedt | Senior VP, Research

Customer Experience Update