Online shoppers click, check out and then wait for their package to arrive. Increasingly, they expect their order to arrive faster, and they’d like shipping to be free and on their schedule, so retailers have to figure out how to meet or exceed those demands in a timely, cost-effective manner.

It has long been the case that online shoppers prefer free shipping. 74% of consumers surveyed in the 2017 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper report, released in June, cite free shipping as the most important option when checking out online. The 2017 study by UPS and comScore Inc. was fielded in the first quarter of 2017 and is based on a comScore survey of more than 5,000 U.S. online shoppers. Respondents made at least two online purchases in a three-month period.

Retailers are constantly trying to squeeze time and costs from the fulfillment and delivery process, and doing so rarely begins and ends with just fulfillment and delivery. Here are things some retailers are doing now and a glimpse into what merchants are planning to do to smooth the way for their business and customers.

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