With online buying as popular as ever, the retail supply chain is a crucial component to business owners' operations. Customers expect to have their items delivered in a timely fashion and for their purchases be accurate to what they ordered. But there's something else that Americans increasingly expect when they shop via the internet: free shipping.
That's according to a newly released survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, which found that approximately 75 percent of respondents said free shipping was a major priority for them in the e-commerce space. That's up from slightly over two-thirds who indicated as much in a similar poll conducted by NRF a year ago.
No-cost shipping is a sales promotion that retailers often advertise to further persuade customers to buy. The inducement is particularly common for orders of $50 or over. Even here, though, more customers expect free shipping to be included regardless of their orders' dollar value, the poll found.
Mark Matthews, vice president of research development and industry analysis at NRF, indicated that point-and-click purchases have ratcheted up consumers' urgency for convenience. Free shipping is like icing on the cake.
"Consumers want free delivery, and they're willing to meet retailers halfway to get it," Matthews explained. "If we can get their purchase to the store, they'll come pick it up if that's what it takes to avoid a delivery charge. And once they're in the store, they are very open to seeing what else the retailer has to offer."
Robust supply has enabled retailers to keep their shelves and warehouses sufficiently stocked as consumers seek to take advantage of free shipping. Indeed, the American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 6.6 percent in 2018. That's the most appreciable year-over-year gain for the measure since 1998.