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Online Shoppers Favor Free Shipping Over Fast Delivery

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Free shipping comes at a cost to retailers but it’s also a boon as consumers spend more online to meet the minimum-purchase threshold.

According to a survey published Thursday by global technology company Pitney Bowes, three in five online shoppers have added extra items to their basket to qualify for free shipping, while a whopping 80 percent said they would be willing to spend more if they had a promotional code or coupon that entitled them to a receive a discount on delivery costs.

Free shipping is no longer considered a perk—it’s a requirement. Pitney polled 1,000 consumers online in the U.S. in August for its Holiday Shopping Survey and found that for 93 percent of consumers, shipping options are important factors in their overall shopping experience; that was just 70 percent a year ago.

Interestingly, 88 percent of those surveyed said free shipping with an estimated delivery of between five and seven days was more attractive than paying for purchases to arrive within two days.

“Options are no longer a privilege during the shopping experience. This holiday season consumers will expect the ability to choose their preference,” Christoph Stehmann, chief operating officer of Pitney’s digital commerce solutions, said in a statement. “Retailers must focus on offering diverse options—whether for shopping channel, shipping and return methods or even promotional offers—in order to attract consumers throughout their shopping experiences.”

Most Americans plan to shop in-store versus online

While market research firm Forrester expects online retail sales in the U.S. to reach $334 billion in 2015, e-tailers will have to offer more to grab market share during the holiday shopping season: 94 percent of those surveyed plan to purchase in-store.

Sixty-one percent said they’re more willing to shop online during a sales event, while 39 percent prefer retailers that offer a premium membership with faster and cheaper shipping, like Amazon’s Prime service.

And despite PayPal’s claims that m-commerce growth is outpacing e-commerce 3-1, less than half (49 percent) of consumers told Pitney they plan to make purchases on a mobile device for the holidays. In fact, 94 percent intend to shop online from a computer.

When shoppers do buy something online, 39 percent like to return it to a nearby store and 38 percent prefer to use a shipping provider. And contrary to an overall consumer desire for less friction and more convenience, only one in five said they like to have a courier pick up a package from their location.

So, when will all these online purchases take place? Forty-one percent plan to shop from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, with 34 percent cutting it close to do so during the month of December.

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