Shipping and delivery have ebbed and flowed over the past few years, with COVID-19 reaching its peak and subsequent supply chain challenges. Perhaps things may be settling down somewhat based on Digital Commerce 360’s annual look at shipping and delivery of online orders.

Shipping and delivery had many ebbs and flows over the past few years when COVID-19 reached peak ordering to subsequent supply chain challenges. Perhaps things may be settling down somewhat, based on Digital Commerce 360’s annual look at shipping and delivery of online orders.

Our 2022 survey, conducted with Bizrate Insights, included 1,116 online shoppers and was completed in August 2022. I am calling out insights or shifts in online shopping behavior for comparison purposes. I will also share insights on why these findings matter and what it means to your holiday business and beyond.

Year # Respondents
2022 1116
2021 1032
2020 1000


Delivery satisfaction shines

Online shoppers are highly satisfied with deliveries of their online orders. Two in three respondents scored their experiences an 8 or higher, while 18% graded them a 6 or 7. And 15% found them below average (ranked less than a 5 out of 10).


A three-year comparison (2022, 2021, 2020):

  • 8+: 67% vs. 77% vs. 79%
  • 6-7: 18% vs. 16% vs. 15%
  • 5 or below: 15% vs. 7% vs. 6%

Shoppers may be less forgiving post-COVID-19 as satisfaction with deliveries sees some year-over-year decline. The job of retailers as we advance must be to maintain and improve on this performance record. It never hurts to review customer delivery feedback to understand any remaining flaws and to address missed opportunities. Making enhancements and adapting to an ever-changing delivery environment is always advisable.

Online shoppers gravitate to free shipping, fast delivery, in-stock products, and quality customer service

From a shipping and delivery point of view, we asked participants what their top three most important factors were when selecting retailers to do business with online.

Saving money always rises to the top, and 70% of respondents selected free shipping. It remains No. 1 in importance among our audience. Another way shoppers enjoy saving money is free return shipping, according to 25% of those surveyed. Evaluate both shopping perks, particularly as the all-important holiday season is on the horizon.


Retailers must monitor delivery speed and options with supporting logistics, as 43% gave this the No. 2 ranking. Though next-day shipping (16%) and same-day delivery (7%) are much lower on the list, it is clear from other findings in this survey that consumer adoption is growing.

Having products in stock and ready to ship was the No. 3, with 35% noting it. Keeping products in stock remains essential, with retailer vigilance advised.

I was happy to see that exemplary customer service continues to matter to online shoppers. Here, 33% emphasized its importance in their retailer selection. 14% of respondents cited flexibility of the return policy as a top-three factor. That is something that retailers should review annually, as strong satisfaction bodes well for retention.


Year-over-year top-five retailer selection factors

  2022 2021
Free shipping 70% 82%
Delivery speed 43% 44%
Product in-stock and ready to ship 35% 48%
Quality customer service 33% 23%
Free return shipping 25% 41%

Source: Digital Commerce 360 shipping and delivery survey of 1,116 online shoppers, August 2022

Three factors stood out in the year-over-year review: free shipping, easy returns and keeping products in stock. Online shoppers still gravitate to free shipping, though it appears to be of lesser concern. I can only guess that with many shoppers buying from Amazon and being Prime members, it doesn’t receive the same focus.

Additionally, as shoppers become more educated in their online buying, return rates are lower, and customers see this perk as more limited in value. I sense that this will become a more significant issue over the holidays. Our 2022 pre-holiday survey revealed that 39% found it important, though the methodology for this question was a select all that apply, as opposed to choosing the top-three significant issues. Exemplary customer service grows in importance and can be a differentiator.

Lastly, keeping products in stock remains essential, though it may be easing up for retailers. While it is important, it doesn’t seem as important as the others when they select a retailer.


Online shopper experiences begin with “free”

Respondents’ answers about their experiences in the past six months shed additional light on shopper behavior.

While almost all shoppers embrace free shipping but will pay when circumstances warrant it, 63% of those surveyed said they took advantage of free shipping over the preceding six months. Retailers should evaluate that, considering the level of customer adoption. Paying for shipping remains routine for many shoppers, as noted by 36% of those surveyed.

Shoppers enjoy getting their orders “now.” Same-day delivery is becoming a more critical factor for online shoppers. 35% had used that option on Amazon, more than at any other online retailer. A substantial 20% also took advantage of this service from websites of retailers with a store presence, while web-only stores saw a 15% experience rate.

Omnichannel options must be in place and exemplary for store-based sellers. Grocery delivery post-COVID-19 is a factor for 19%. Almost the same number of respondents (17%) picked up their groceries at the store, while 18% took advantage of BOPIS for non-grocery items.


App-based options will play a role for a segment of shoppers, especially regarding food. Our research revealed that 17% ordered food via an app while just under half (8%) ordered non-food items. Shoppers gave the nod to eco-friendly policies, with 17% waiting longer and willing to combine products. Just 5% were willing to pay extra for sustainable delivery.

Online shopping cart behavior is predicated on saving money

Customers will always embrace choices that allow them to save money. That starts with selecting an extended shipping option to save money by 38%. But 22% abandoned an order because shipping costs were too high, while only 5% did so because sales tax was too high, which is beyond retailers’ control.

Inventory remains a concern, causing both out-of-stocks and delivery headaches for retailers and shoppers. Many won’t wait or seek clarity about the information provided. Our research suggests that 28% abandoned an order because it was out-of-stock. 20% had an order delayed because of an inventory or shipping issue, and 18% had an order canceled due to inventory issues.


More customers are starting to take positive action in support of sustainability. 22% ordered items from a retailer that offered a social/environmental benefit. Additionally, 16% selected a more extended shipping option to support sustainable practices, while 7% even favored one retailer over another due to its sustainability practices.

Timing is of the essence, so monitoring one’s shipping policies/pricing is critical to avert cart abandonment. The inability to address these delivery concerns can be costly. 19% of those surveyed abandoned an order because it would not arrive in time, delivery would be too slow (13%), or the delivery date was unclear (10%). 5% even abandoned an order because same-day delivery was not available, a growing interest among the online audience. Though no theft is desirable, only 6% had been a victim of porch piracy or package theft.

A three-year look at delivery in the context of shopper behavior shows that shoppers may not be as focused on their delivery times. Retailers may be delivering orders quicker, and order flows are more limited than in peak COVID-19 years.


Year-over-year delivery experiences

Which of the following have been part of your online order experiences in the past 6 months? Please select all that apply.

Delivery 2022 2021 2020
Abandoned an order because it would not arrive in time 19% 27% 13%
Abandoned an order because delivery time would be too slow 13% 22% 11%
Abandoned an order because delivery date was unclear 10% 10% 6%
Have been a victim of porch piracy or package theft 6% 7% 6%
Abandoned an order because same-day delivery was not available 5% 4% 3%

Sellers are extending many more options when it comes to order fulfillment

The customer’s desire for convenience means multiple touchpoints for fulfillment, pickup and returns, all of which retailers should consider.

Store fulfillment options continue to have strong appeal among online shoppers, with 34% taking advantage of in-store pickup and 27% gravitating to the curbside option. With omnichannel now entrenched in shopper behavior, it should be in place and performing at a high level for store-based retailers.

Alternative shipping options provide consumer interest perspectives and are a trend worth monitoring over the next few years. Shipments to these locations were as follows:

  • Collection point: 18%
  • Amazon-run store: 15%
  • Amazon locker in a non-Amazon location: 12%
  • Package delivery locker: 9%

Staying abreast of return trends will also ensure shopper satisfaction

Topping the list of return choices made were the 15% who returned Amazon product to a physical store such as Kohl’s or Whole Foods. Interestingly, 13% were told to keep an order and that a return would still be processed. My original experiences in this regard were with 1-800-Flowers and Omaha Steaks.

A few other insights worth noting, despite their small numbers, include:

  • 8% of those surveyed returned to a mall-based pickup and return center.
  • 5% returned a non-Amazon order to a physical location like Happy Returns.
  • Just 4% returned those non-Amazon orders to a drop-off point at a retailer like Walgreens.
  • Based on the limited penetration of retailers offering curbside returns, just 3% took advantage of this service.

Environmental concerns come with a cost

Shoppers increasingly express concern for the environment, though fewer want to pay to protect it. 53% of online shoppers have environmental concerns relative to shipping. A consequential 34% would pay for eco-friendly policies or choose environmentally sound options with a direct benefit. There is a cost to supporting ecologically sound policies, and shoppers need education about their choices and environmental impact.


Year-over-year environmental concerns

2022 2021 2020
Concerned 53% 50% 44%
Not concerned 27% 21% 23%
No opinion 20% 29% 33%


Year-over-year numbers show a slight uptick in those who haven an opinion, though the “not concerned” option saw greater traction.

Online shopper comfort with delivery options is expanding

We asked online shoppers how comfortable they are with a range of alternative or non-traditional delivery experiences in 2022. It was good to see a “comfortable” level among at least one in two online shoppers. Package receptacles outside the house see the most significant upside, though complete comfort is not yet forthcoming. Proof of concept from non-traditional delivery options will be required to increase consumer comfort. The 5+ delivery comfort numbers are as follows:

  • Package receptacles in front of house: 80%
  • In-home delivery: 60%
  • In-garage delivery/package receptacles: 57%
  • Self-driving vehicle delivery: 53%
  • Drone delivery: 52%

Year-over-year comfort with alternative delivery options 

How comfortable are you with the following types of delivery experiences in 2022?

Comfort (5+)  Drone Delivery  

Self-driving vehicle delivery

In-garage delivery/package receptacles In-home delivery Package receptacles at the front of the house
2022 52% 53% 57% 60% 80%
2021 39% 36% 44% 54% 76%

Year-over-year numbers revealed that 50% of online shoppers seek guarantees for any issues they might face when using non-traditional delivery options. The information provides additional comfort among shoppers, and 25% would like to see from delivery companies, while retailer information is on par at 22%. Locations and security setups factor into comfort, as 30% cited home and/or garage security systems. 27% cited being better suited for this type of delivery, while less crime in the neighborhood was a factor for 16%.

Retailers must remain vigilant when it comes to delivery despite solid performance numbers. Online shoppers will always look for ways to save while at the same time hoping to get their orders even faster. Beyond cost-savings, monitoring stock status and taking care of the customer should go a long way. Convincing customers to consider sustainable options will have long-term implications for all of us.


Now is the time to test delivery options that may become the centerpiece of future shopping experiences. We all still have a lot to learn.

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