The e-commerce industry is one of the fastest-growing marketplaces, thanks in part to advances to digital and mobile technologies. Patrons now have the ability to access myriad information from nearly any location, and that type of convenience is exactly what they’re looking for.
From a business standpoint, it’s become increasingly difficult to keep pace with fluid consumer demands. Companies have had to adapt to success models to give patrons what they want, but new promises may have retailers scrambling to keep their customers satisfied.
Shipping is a big deal for patrons
Today’s digital consumer landscape has created a shopper that wants his or her product faster than ever before, and businesses are trying to accommodate that desire with ambitious promises to move inventory at a rapid pace. One of the latest industry trends is to provide consumers with free shipping, and that guarantee seems to be well-liked by buyers on a wide scale. A recent Walker Sands report indicated that 80 percent of consumers would be more inclined to buy a product online if it included free shipping. Alternatively, two-thirds of patrons said they’d be more likely to complete a transaction if they were guaranteed next-day delivery. Not only do patrons want their products at a premium rate, they want them fast than ever before.
Conceptually, free shipping is a great idea. The cost of postage and back-end logistics in recent years has driven the price per parcel up, and consumers don’t enjoy dropping extra cash just to get their products. However, businesses that promise free shipping on certain tangibles must level out costs in a different way if they want to avoid losing money in the big picture. For example, Amazon guarantees free shipping to patrons who sign up for their premium membership, Amazon Prime. Along with a small annual fee, consumers don’t have to pay a dime for the postage of their purchases and it seems to be working, as well. According to Business Insider, the e-retail giant has an estimated 20 million Prime members, who have access to a two-day delivery service and Amazon’s robust platform of streaming capabilities.
Promises could change the shipping industry
Although most businesses can’t keep up with Amazon’s widespread infrastructure, it seems that the free shipping craze is catching on fast within the industry. Retailing giant Target has come up with a unique way to guarantee that it doesn’t lose money on free shipping, offering to waive the cost of postage on any online order that exceed $50, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. It’s also testing same-day delivery in major markets like Minneapolis, Boston and Miami.
Other industry titans like eBay are also toying with the idea of a 24-hour delivery window, and it seems as if market competitors will likely follow suit if the trailblazers figure out a successful strategy. If e-retailers can replicate the same satisfaction that consumers get from buying in-store, then they can essentially eliminate the main roadblock that separated them from their brick-and-mortar competition.
The trickle-down affect of same-day delivery could have wide-sweeping implications on the shipping industry, though, as companies keep promising new ways to get products to consumers faster. Although the nation’s infrastructure is set up in a way to accommodate current needs, freight carriers will have to adapt with the e-commerce industry to remain significant. Modern technology has enabled back-end logistics to increase visibility and deliver products in a more organized fashion, but the expected changes may force companies to adjust the way they operate. Retailers may need to pick either free delivery or same-day for an extra fee, unless their infrastructure can handle both.