Consumers’ increasing expectation of both fast and free shipping poses a big challenge for retailers.

Consumers want their purchases to arrive as fast as possible and don’t want to pay for shipping. Retailers’ desire to please the shopper presents a challenge: how to make a profit. For that reason, free shipping usually comes with some limitations. Those can include dollar thresholds that require orders to meet a specific value before the retailer waives shipping fees.

In addition to cost and speed, consumers care about certainty. In a June 2019 Internet Retailer survey conducted by Bizrate Insights of 1,052 consumers, 44.0% of online shoppers said they had not completed an order because it wouldn’t arrive soon enough. Another 20.0% abandoned an order because the delivery date was unclear. Also, 88% of online shoppers have used tracking to check their order status.

Retailers in the 2019 Internet Retailer Top 1000 use various strategies to keep up with ever-increasing consumer expectations. Those include free shipping, fast shipping, free returns, buy online pick up in stores (BOPIS) and incentive/loyalty programs.

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