Transactions are won when buyers sense they are at the center of a thoughtfully curated experience. To provide this experience, we must ask, “What do buyers want when it comes to shipping?”
The short answer is – options.
Not so surprisingly, buyer behavior tells us that cost heavily sways decisions. Cost, however, is not the only deciding factor when a buyer chooses a checkout option. Buyers are faced with many decisions at checkout. They’re asked to weigh transit times against shipping costs, consider joining a loyalty program, opt in or out of insurance, and consider a sustainable option – the list can (and does) go on. While there are a lot of decisions to be made, they are made quickly and intuitively, all at checkout. Rather than creating friction at checkout, a slew of decisions provides an engaging experience by offering a sense of control to the buyer.
Here are some considerations when presenting options to buyers – which options they will likely choose and what this means for your business.
Slow and Steady
Businesses are operating under a precedent set by the world’s largest marketplace, where two-day shipping is the norm. Many strive to shrink shipping timelines to be within this standard. This timeline is not always possible for businesses dealing with unique or novelty goods. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be.
Many online shoppers will opt for a longer shipping timeline if a quicker option comes at an additional cost or is perceived as less sustainable. Buyers are willing to accept a slower delivery under the right circumstances, and not every transaction necessitates expedited shipping. As buyers opt for longer shipping timelines, tracking experiences become more central to the buyer experience. Proactive and engaging tracking throughout the delivery lifecycle will provide a positive experience to buyers. A strategic investment in transparent tracking is a worthwhile endeavor to grow customer loyalty through purposeful engagement.
The Magic Words
Free Shipping – it has a nice ring to it, right? The cost-conscious consumer actively seeks ways to eliminate shipping expenses at checkout. So many companies find free shipping the missing ingredient to close transactions and sway certain behaviors. We know money motivates when it comes to selecting a checkout option. Not only will shoppers opt for a longer transit time to secure free shipping, but 36% of consumers will add items to their cart to meet the criteria for free shipping. These consumer behaviors have become ingrained, presenting a significant consideration for sellers.
Since shipping costs can make or break a sale, leveraging a subsidized shipping strategy is an exercise in growth and customer loyalty. The strategic implementation of subsidized shipping strategies can effectively attract buyers and boost revenue. There are multiple ways to subsidize shipping, and for industries that traditionally disregard free shipping, there are now opportunities to make it possible. Arta leads businesses through this discovery by hosting workshops. Our workshop guide helps businesses discover the most beneficial strategy for their growth.
When Free Shipping Doesn’t Fit
While offering free shipping is obtainable, it might not be a fit for your brand. Fast and free shipping is often leveraged as a competitive edge in saturated commodity markets. This edge isn’t necessary for luxury or niche industries. Offering fast and free shipping for a one-of-a-kind collectible might feel disjointed.
Free shipping is often cited as a strategy to encourage impulsive buying. Impulse buys happen without prior intent, and it’s not always applicable to all industries. When sellers host highly anticipated drops or sales, there’s no need to rely on impulsive purchases. Spur-of-the-moment purchases often cater to an immediate sense of gratification. It’s important to assess whether this aligns with the nature of the goods you sell. If not, free shipping may not be a suitable fit you need to work towards.
Insurance as an Empathy Strategy
Buyers want to be cared for at checkout. Providing transit insurance seamlessly at checkout could be a compelling option for the right buyer. Rather than rushing a transaction along, empowering buyers to consider protection ensures that buyers feel cared for beyond buy now. Offering protection through delivery is about creating an experience that resonates with buyers' needs and concerns. Insurance offerings allow businesses to demonstrate expertise and genuine care for their customers and industry. In luxury industries, insurance can be particularly compelling for buyers knowing their investment will be protected, alleviating some of that parcel anxiety.
At Arta, about 90% of transactions are booked with transit insurance monthly. The need is clear, and integrating insurance options into the checkout process is more than just a functional upgrade – it’s a commitment to providing a customer-centric experience that resonates long after the purchase is complete.
Green is the New Gold
Sustainability is a growing concern for consumers. Sellers are starting to see that consumers will opt for a longer delivery timeline in exchange for a sustainable option. Even the cost-conscious consumer is willing to pay an additional premium to ship sustainability. Conscientious consumers are extending their scrutiny to packaging practices, with a significant majority expressing distaste for excessive packaging and its direct impact on sustainability.
Sustainability is a top contender regarding checkout considerations, even combatting the importance of speed. 82% of buyers will accept a longer transit time for eco-friendly shipping. Interestingly, those prioritizing shipping speed are paradoxically more open to waiting longer for sustainable options. Among those who deemed shipping speed “very important,” 83% would willingly opt for a slightly longer timeline for an eco-friendly shipping option.
While the infrastructure may not be available to immediately support a greener shipping option, there are ways to show that your business aligns with a greener initiative. Emissions reporting provides transparency into the environmental impact of your shipment. Reporting is a small but mighty step in providing buyers with insights, positioning them at the center of the checkout experience. Aligning with common values, particularly sustainability, is a genuine way to build brand trust and identity in the eyes of increasingly eco-conscious consumers.
Understanding and addressing buyer needs requires an informed approach that can be agile and specific to the type of transaction occurring. Empowering buyers to take charge of their customer experience, especially when deciding between the cost and speed of delivery, fosters engagement and brand loyalty. With the right incentives, buyers are willing to choose slower shipping. Why does this matter? Sellers can balance cost and choice, ultimately crafting an optimal post-sale experience for their buyers.