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Shoppers Will Sacrifice Delivery Speed for Lower Shipping Cost

Online sellers know there’s no such thing as free shipping, but promotions and policies from big retailers and online marketplaces may have online shoppers thinking otherwise, and dealing with buyer expectations around shipping is a huge challenge.

A study by Purolator International found that shoppers may be more reasonable than one might think. The shipping/logistics provider found the cost of shipping was identified most often as the single most important concern in terms of the delivery of their purchases, and most shoppers chose extended delivery times for their online purchases.

The survey found that 76% of Canadian consumers who made an online purchase from a U.S.-based retailer within the last six months, as well as 63% of U.S. online shoppers, identified shipping costs as very important; while 44% and 32%, respectively, said it was the single most important factor.

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The survey also identified other areas of concern for online shoppers relating to shipping, including carrier reputation; Canadian taxes and tariffs; and ease of return.

A majority of Canadians (78%) and Americans (58%) typically opted for shipping that took four days or longer. A majority of online shoppers in both countries (65% Canadian, 55% American) demonstrated this willingness to wait; and 37% and 28%, respectively, said the availability of an economical delivery option with a longer delivery time was very important to them.

The findings may be reassuring to US sellers wishing to reach Canadian shoppers.

Purolator International president John Costanzo said the findings represented an opportunity for such sellers, while noting that an estimated $300 billion of goods are imported into Canada from the United States annually. Purolator is a leading provider of cross-border logistics between the U.S. and Canada.

But what about shopper expectations during the holidays? 63% Canadians and 49% Americans said they decided against purchasing a holiday item last year because of high shipping costs; 53% and 43%, respectively, decided against a holiday purchase because it would not be delivered in time.

A majority of Canadians (62%) and Americans (60%) said they see postal delivery as an acceptable alternative to other types of carrier delivery services. “Our postal hybrid solution, PuroPost, addresses this consumer preference, giving Canadians making online purchases from U.S. e-tailers a courier-like experience at a cost they are willing to pay,” Costanzo said

Canadians purchasing from across the border are concerned about additional fees, the survey found, with nearly half of those surveyed identifying taxes and tariffs as a very important concern – 15% of Canadians surveyed said it was the single most important factor in the decision for their purchase.

“With PuroPost, all duties, taxes, and fees are paid up front by the shipper, so customers will not be surprised with an unexpected bill at delivery,” the company said, noting that thanks to the fact that the company has “trusted trade partner” status with both the U.S. and Canadian governments, the majority of PuroPost shipments arrive at the border pre-cleared.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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