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Jim Agger
 
May 9, 2014 | eCommerce , Fulfillment/Shipping | Jim Agger

Which is more important in shipping: fast or free?

There are two main schools of thinking in ecommerce fulfillment: Either fast or free shipping is most important to customers. For a long time, online merchants thought they needed to deliver packages as quickly as possible to overcome the advantage of instant gratification that brick-and-mortar retailers could offer. Currently, retailers are racing toward the ultimate goal of same-day delivery. However, many studies, including a recent infographic from eFulfillment Services, have analyzed the impact on shipping choices on purchases overall, and inexpensive fulfillment is the clear winner. It may be time to reconsider the wine shipping options you currently offer. 

In the infographic, eFulfillment Services revealed that 67 percent of online shippers would choose the least expensive shipping option. Only 2 percent would select the fastest delivery. Free shipping also won for the most important option during the checkout process. When it came down to it, customers would rather wait a few extra days than pay more to get their packages sooner. In fact, some people were willing to wait up to eight days if it meant getting their items delivered for free. 

Additionally, online shoppers felt that shipping had the most room for improvement in the overall ecommerce experience. Fifty-eight percent wanted retailers to expand their free or discounted shipping availability, and 28 percent wanted more choices when it came to fulfillment. While inexpensive shipping is the top priority, expedited options shouldn't be completely overlooked.

Why shipping matters more than price
Many ecommerce vendors attempt to get around providing high-quality shipping options by cutting their prices. However, this doesn't usually prove to be a winning strategy because consumers are more concerned with incurring high fees for fulfillment, and they want a good shopping experience, Practical Ecommerce pointed out. Consumers still expect top-notch online customer service from brands that are able to dramatically cut prices and operate on a narrow margin. Some retailers mistakenly think they can raise prices after establishing a market share, but this will quickly scare existing customers away because they won't appreciate the variation from their initial impression of the brand. 

Additionally, customers reward added value, which is why Amazon Prime is so successful. The retail giant is able to offer relatively low prices with a wide variety of free and discounted shipping options. Competitive product prices won't scare customers away when used in conjunction with attractive shipping options and helpful customer service policies. This can help you gain repeat customers, which ensures a steady cash flow. 

How wineries can handle the free shipping revolution
Although you can't offer free shipping, you can find ways to provide discounted rates. The right combination for wineries may be a balance between cost-effectiveness and speed. You can make the wine shipping process as convenient and streamlined as possible, which works as a vehicle to drive customer satisfaction. In general, consumers want more transparency in ecommerce. The infographic suggested providing an estimated delivery date when shoppers order wine online. You can also update them if anything changes. This is particularly handy if there's an unexpected delay from severe weather. You should also send customers a tracking number with the confirmation of the order. Consumers can check this information on their own, which can reduce the number of queries your employees need to field. 

Even if you do offer discounted shipping rates, it may be a good idea to still provide the option for customers to pay slightly more for expedited shipping. This may be beneficial for last-minute holiday shoppers. WineDirect's fulfillment services can help wineries reach customers in other parts of the country more quickly and at a lower cost to consumers. 

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