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Delivery Concerns Drive Earlier Start to Holiday Shopping

More people will start their online shopping for holiday gifts earlier this year in order to ensure on-time delivery, according to a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by ORC International for Pitney Bowes in August 2014.

In fact, half of Americans surveyed (49 percent) said they plan to shop online earlier for gifts this holiday season, with the main reason being to make sure they receive their packages on time (63 percent).

Pitney Bowes President of Ecommerce and Shipping Solutions Christoph Stehmann cited last year’s holiday shipping challenges, which he said stemmed from a perfect storm of record-breaking weather “combined with over-promises to deliver orders on time and a last-minute shipping surge.”

Online merchants already consider shipping and delivery times as critical during the holiday shopping season – and this year, it’s even more on the minds of their customers than ever before. Pitney Bowes survey found that 33 percent of respondents said they planned to pay more attention to shipping this year compared to last year.

Overall, 70 percent of Americans consider shipping options to be an important factor in the shopping experience compared to 66 percent in 2013.

The study also found the following:

Free shipping is key for majority of shoppers. When it comes to free shipping versus fast shipping, 82 percent of Americans find free shipping where the product arrives in five to seven days more attractive, while 17 percent prefer fast shipping where the product arrives in one to two business days for a fee.

Shipping costs matter. One in three Americans (35%) have not completed a purchase due to shipping costs during the last year.

Fast shipping comes at a premium. On average, Americans who find fast shipping more attractive than free shipping would be willing to pay $8.50 for the package to arrive within two business days. Relatively few (19 percent) would be willing to pay more than $10 for fast shipping.

Online shoppers track their orders. Three in four Americans (77 percent) said that they track their packages that are being shipped to them versus 68 percent in 2013. One-third (33 percent) track their packages once or twice. Another 21 percent track packages three to five times, and 23 percent track it six or more times.

Stehmann advised retailers to prepare well in advance for the unexpected and to provide real-time visibility on shipping packages and reliable delivery estimates.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.