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Delivery Speed and Porch Piracy Worry Online Shoppers This Holiday

This holiday season, consumers have made it clear that speed will be as important a factor as any when completing a successful last-mile delivery.

In its third annual survey of holiday shoppers, Austin-based logistics firm Convey found that consumers heavily favor speedy delivery, package safety and lack of delays when shopping online. The subsequent report, “Last Mile Delivery Wars: How to Keep Retail Promises and Win with Reliability,” found that twice as many shoppers said that “fast, free shipping” is important in 2019 compared to last year.

Convey’s report acknowledged it was likely Amazon Prime’s influence that has sparked this change, pushing competitors to offer services like Walmart’s $98 Prime-like membership program and Target’s nationwide same-day shipping. In fact, 7 percent of those surveyed said they would be shopping exclusively with Amazon this holiday.

Unsurprisingly, cost is the most important part of a positive delivery experience. Three out of every five consumers said the price of shipping was still the most important factor when choosing a delivery method. But speed has the potential to be the deciding factor when looking for online conversions; 28.6 percent also said that they’d be more likely to buy an item if it could be delivered within a week, as opposed to the 7.5 percent who said that the shipping date is unimportant when making a purchase.

Convey also found that BOPIS isn’t quite ready to compete with Amazon-style shipping. Only 30.8 percent of respondents said that in-store pickup was important to them, compared to 79.3 percent that said the same for free two-day shipping.

“Our annual study is designed to illuminate key shipping trends that retailers can use to improve the overall brand experience,” Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, chief growth officer at Convey, said in a statement. “We confirmed that consumers want shipping to be both free and fast, and store pickup isn’t necessarily a replacement for direct delivery.

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“Consumers also expect transparent communication about deliveries and are actively seeking ways to track and manage shipments,” she added. “For brands that like to think they aren’t competing with Amazon, the data clearly suggests that shoppers think they are.”

The continued influx of online shipping has increased incidences of “porch piracy,” or the act of stealing someone’s packages before they can be secured by the intended recipient. Of those surveyed, 21.9 percent said they are currently worried about packages being stolen in this manner.

To combat this, Convey suggested that tracking data is very important to online consumers, supported by 66.5 percent of shoppers who said the ability to follow their packages’ journey is an important factor this year. In either case, late delivery is still the easiest way to turn shipping into a bad experience—38.6 percent agreed it was the most important factor on their e-commerce journey.

“While two-thirds of shoppers believe that a tracking page is important as a part of the shipping experience, tracking pages fall far short of a means of communication when a delivery exception, such as late delivery or a damaged package, occurs,” the report said.

“When shipping goes wrong, 98.8 percent shoppers want to be notified about the issue at hand, and this expectation is only rising year-over-year,” the report said. “Shoppers have strong opinions on how their retailers contact them, as well. They prefer that their retailers to alert them by email (56 percent of shoppers expected this) or by SMS text message (33.1 percent of shoppers expected this).”

Getting the delivery portion of the online shopping experience right is exceptionally important, especially during the holidays. Convey said that 83.7 percent of shoppers responded that delivery was an important part of online shopping, up from 73.6 percent in 2018. More importantly, 72.7 percent said they would be unlikely to purchase from a brand again if forced to suffer a poorly handled delivery.