Research: the power of free delivery in e-commerce

By Paazl
October 27, 2017

94% of consumers say that they are more likely to purchase something online if shipping is free. This is one of the key conclusions we can take from the new British research commissioned by local carrier Whistl. The study re-confirms the importance of low shipping costs, above all other delivery aspects, when it comes to satisfying customers. Let’s take a look at the power of free delivery in e-commerce.

When do customers expect free delivery?

The study surveyed 1.000 British online shoppers in various age groups. Results show that consumers start paying close attention to shipping costs when the order value is exceeding £10 – 50% expect not to pay for delivery when they have to spend this much. 67% of respondents consider abandoning their cart when delivery costs are too high. Weirdly enough, a third of these supposedly price-conscious consumers will spend more on products if this means they qualify for free shipping.

Giving up service for free shipping

The call for free shipping is so strong that shoppers are willing to take things slow. Around 50% of respondents say they are OK to wait an extra two or three days to get their order, as long as the shipping service is free. 28% would even happily wait four to five days. Perhaps most surprising: 55% of consumers will even switch to an international store, with matching long delivery times, as long as shipping fees do not apply! This effect is most evident amongst men between 18- to 24-year-olds.

Women, on the contrary, are more likely to take a another approach: adding extra items to their shopping cart to get free delivery, knowing full well they will return these items upon arrival.

Strongest delivery asset

The British study by Whistl bears close resemblance to a recent study by Flexe in the US. In this study, both retailers and customers were asked what a ‘good delivery experience’ means to them. This uncovered a startling disconnect: only 24% of retailers surveyed think free shipping is their strongest delivery asset, whereas 74% of customers label it their number one demand.

Even more surprising: 75% of retailers believe that their customers are not willing to pay for faster delivery, whereas in fact 75% of consumers are prepared to foot the bill for this extra speedy service.


Want to optimize your conversion rates using your shipping costs policy? Based on these studies offering a free, slower, delivery option mixed with speedy dispatch at a premium fee is your recipe for success! Want to see how this works in practice? Make sure to check out our new report including 18 delivery best practices found at leading online fashion brands:

More inspiration.