Retail

Why shipping is a key factor in converting online shoppers in 2018

Morris Bryant /

In a time when shoppers want everything now, e-commerce shipping — how, when and for how much you ship — can be the difference in getting a consumer to open their wallet online.

Compiling data from seven leading Australian e-commerce sites and 6 million users to determine how viewing a shipping page influences conversion rates, our own research found users who access a shipping/delivery page convert to buy at 2.67 times the rate of a user that doesn’t.

It’s fairly obvious why. As e-commerce competition increases, users want to know when they’ll receive their item, how much it will cost, and how it ships. Preferably, it’s fast and free.

Shipping continues to be the top incentive for consumers to purchase online. The Walker Sands Future of Retail 2017 study found 80% of US respondents say free shipping is a contributing factor to their online purchases. Additionally, 54% say fast shipping is a contributing factor.

While the Australian online transaction share is still behind the US at roughly 6% (compared to 10%), it’s hard to imagine that shipping isn’t just as important here.

In addition, many shoppers now expect same-day shipping. In the US, 25% of shoppers will now abandon a cart online if same-day shipping is not included, and that’s even higher for certain product categories such as flowers, computers and software and office supplies.

Yet our research shows that a quarter of the top 20 e-commerce sites in Australia don’t have a shipping page on their site.

Some take it seriously: The Iconic has three separate links to delivery information in the header of its site. As an online-only fashion retailer, The Iconic knows shipping is as imperative to the business as the fashion it stocks, and it’s become one of the retailer’s major points of difference in a crowded market. The Iconic achieved nearly $200 million in sales in 2016, offers three-hour delivery in major cities, same-day delivery to 75% of the nation and 100-day free returns.

The brands that don’t show shipping clearly across their sites are waiting for users to eventually make it to the cart or checkout page to calculate shipping options. But in a shopping environment where users are well-researched and shipping is as important as pricing, is it worth risking that users will make it this far?

Here are our tips for prioritising shipping on an e-commerce site with the view to more users converting:

  1. Put shipping details on the homepage, and don’t make it simply a link to your shipping info. Tell users upfront what you offer — free shipping, same day, overnight, fixed price, etc;
  2. Add your shipping or a shipping calculator to product pages, so as your users are browsing they can see when they can get the product they want and for how much; and
  3. Test and interrogate your shipping options, pricing and speed as much as you might question your pricing or marketing, because it’s just as important!

Many e-commerce companies get too wrapped up in the front-end customer experience and site design, while something as critical as shipping can mean the difference between getting that sale, and not.

With Amazon’s world-beating offer now in Australia, our local e-commerce players need to ensure their sites compete effectively, and shipping is an integral part of that equation.

NOW READ: How does Amazon Australia really stack up on delivery prices?

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Morris Bryant

Morris Bryant is Partner at Sparro, an independent Sydney digital marketing agency working with brands such as Webjet, Domino’s Pizza and TAFE NSW.

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  • Great points here. Shipping, the costs, reliability of delivery partners are big challenges for small businesses. This particularly important when the shipping can cost as much as the item. Big headache.