Consumer demand for free shipping is nothing new, but shoppers have been getting more impatient year by year. Amazon Prime's speed is acclimating shoppers to faster delivery, and these greater expectations are affecting all retailers.
According to a November 2017 survey by AlixPartners, 96% of US internet users said free shipping affects their purchase decisions. That is now practically a given. But the maximum number of days a shopper will wait for a package with free delivery to arrive has shrunk, from 5.5 in 2012 to 4.1 in 2018, the survey found. And it's declined even further among Amazon Prime members, to 3.8 days. Nearly one-third (31%) of non-Prime members were willing to wait a week for free delivery.
On the surface this may not seem significant, but shipping can only be so fast. That said, same-day delivery is only used by a small—but growing—minority of buyers.
Per AlixPartners, 4.1% of 2017 online orders included same-day delivery, up from 2.7% in 2016. Amazon has been offering select items with free same-day delivery for Amazon Prime members, and services like Instacart have been expanding partnerships with more retailers, so there are more opportunities to receive expedited deliveries.
Whatever the speed, home delivery is the most popular method of getting digital purchases, due to its convenience. But as a cost-saving measure, retailers have been pushing buy online, pick up in-store (BOPUS). As of November 2017, 58% of retailers in North America offered this option, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).
Click and collect is also perceived as cost-effective by consumers—especially younger ones. A Bizrate Insights survey conducted for eMarketer in February 2018 found that after home delivery, BOPUS was US internet users' next most used method. Overall, 23.5% had gone to a store to pick up an item bought digitally. That figure rose to 34.9% for those ages 18 to 29, but fell to 16.1% among respondents 60 and older. This mirrors findings from a December 2017 IRI survey: The younger the internet user, the more likely they were to think BOPUS was convenient and money-saving.
The reasons for picking up in-store are changing, though.
Half of shoppers still do it to save on shipping and get a product immediately, but the importance of those criteria has lessened since 2016. Factors on the rise are a retailer offering a discount, which Walmart started doing last year, and a product displayed online only being available in-store, which is commonly the case on Target.com.