Free shipping in online retail - status quo and customer expectations?

Free shipping in online retail - status quo and customer expectations?
Published on: Aug 6, 2020
Updated: Aug 18, 2022

"Free shipping!" or "Free shipping for orders over 20 euros!" - these or similar statements are what we like to read when we shop in an online shop. The topic of shipping costs is a big issue for customers and retailers alike - on the retailer side because of the costs and for the customer it is not infrequently an important decision criterion. But how important is this offer really for customers and how many shops already offer this service?

How important is free delivery to customers really?

Many retailers think that the amount of shipping costs has little or no influence on customers' willingness to buy. However, a survey by Bitkomhas revealed that 59 percent of respondents would like free delivery. This is on a par with "payment option" and ahead of "free returns" and "delivery time".

These are the criteria shoppers use to decide for or against buying from an online shop. (Source: Bitkom / Statista)

Do the German top 100 online shops already offer free delivery?

The parcelLab E-Commerce Shipping Study 2020 shows: Half of the German top 100 online shops (50 retailers) do not offer free shipping. The amount of shipping costs to be paid ranges between 0.99 and 8.99 euros. In contrast, 22 out of 100 shops generally offer free shipping. For 28 retailers, a defined minimum order value must be reached - only then is delivery free of charge.

Half of the German top 100 online shops do not offer free shipping.

What is the reason that German online shops apparently do not want to offer their customers (completely) free shipping? The fact is that the costs for shipping are either passed on to the prices in the shop or advanced by investors via financing rounds. Free shipping can therefore be very expensive, especially for small online shops.

However, those who do not want to or cannot offer their customers free shipping have the opportunity to improve the customer experience through these three additional steps.

3 tips for optimising the customer experience during shipping

Free shipping does not necessarily have to be - the top 100 online shops also show this. However, those who do not offer their customers this option should focus on an optimal customer experience, because if the customer is offered the best possible shopping experience, free delivery is beside the point. With these three tips, retailers can improve their customer experience during shipping:

<Implement proactive and reliable shipping communications.

Retailers usually communicate reliably with their customers before as well as during the order, but forget that communication should not stop after the order has been sent. What does this mean? Shipping is part of the customer journey and should not be handed over to the logistics provider. Those who communicate proactively and personally with their customers even during shipping can both increase customer loyalty and reduce shipping-related customer service requests - and these are just a few of the benefits of personalised shipping communication.

2. Offer alternative delivery options

Allowing customers freedom of choice in delivery can improve their customer experience. What can this mean? Choosing the preferred logistics provider or delivery to a Packstation or the nearest shop can be ways to make the customer's shopping experience as pleasant as possible.

<Provide relevant and additional content.

Shipping should be a positive experience for the customer. While he is waiting for his package, relevant and interesting information can be played to him in advance. This can be, for example, assembly instructions for the new mountain bike or a tutorial on how to use the kitchen appliance ordered.

Do you want to improve your customer experience?

There are a few ways to optimise the customer experience. For example, here are eight tips for an outstanding customer experience. Would you like to optimise your customer experience and offer your customers the best possible shopping experience? Then feel free to contact us at any time!

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Create new reasons for people to love your brand. Build standout post-sales experiences tailored to your customers. Deliver personalized touch points that grab attention and spark loyalty.

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