The Rorschach calendar test goes international

International consumers’ attitudes about delivery days and speed create opportunities for U.S. retailers in some markets

Image caption: “a wide shot of five small parcels racing across the globe.” Artwork by DALL-E / Courtesy OpenAI, edited by Pitney Bowes.

Readers who have been keeping up with BOXpoll this year will be a familiar with our reporting on U.S. and Canadian consumer expectations’ around estimated delivery dates at checkout. This week on BOXpoll, we’re diving into how consumers in the UK, France, Germany, Australia and China define delivery “days” and how much they value shipping at different speeds.


How many days are in a delivery week?

In the logistics world, measures of speed prompt questions of calendar or business days. To find out how consumers think, we asked them to imagine they were making an online purchase on a Friday with 3-day shipping, then asked them what day they expected their order. The response options—Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday—act as a Rorschach test to reveal whether consumers think of delivery days within a 5-day, 6-day, or 7-day week.

Key takeaways:

  • United States: As we’ve previously reported, more than three-quarters (79%) of Americans are split between a 5-day and 6-day delivery week. Only 1 in 5 (21%) expect package deliveries every day of the week.
  • Canada: Most Canadians (54%) think in business days when looking at checkout estimates, giving retailers more leeway for processing/transit time. Just over one-quarter (28%) expect a 6-day delivery week.
  • United Kingdom: British consumers think similarly to Canadians, with half (50%) expecting a 5-day delivery week and more than one-third (36%) expecting a 6-day delivery week.
  • France: French consumers think similarly to Americans, with the majority evenly split between 5-day and 6-day delivery weeks.
  • Germany: In Germany, the dynamic is the inverse of that within the UK. Half of German consumers (51%) expect deliveries 6 days a week, while one-third (37%) think in business days.
  • South Korea: South Korean shoppers think similarly to Canadians, with more than half (59%) thinking in business days, and one quarter (26%) expecting a 6-day delivery week.
  • China: Chinese consumers have ultra-fast expectations, with more than half (52%) expecting deliveries every day of the week, and another third (30%) expecting a 6-day delivery week.


The most foolproof way for retailers to communicate with international customers at checkout is to list a specific date of delivery rather than number of days, which can be a challenge if they don’t know how long fulfillment and shipping are going to take.

From the consumer’s perspective, common pain points are a lack of available tracking information through international postal delivery and unexpected DDU charges for the rookie cross-border buyer.

These are just a few of the reasons why when putting together our Designed Cross-Border services, we prioritized offering highly cost-effective DDP options that offer more predictable delivery dates and better tracking visibility.

The most foolproof way for retailers to communicate with international customers at checkout is to list a specific date of delivery rather than number of days, which can be a challenge if they don’t know how long fulfillment and shipping are going to take.

Paying for shipping from the U.S.

We also wanted to gauge how much international consumers value different shipping speeds from the U.S. We did this by presenting a hypothetical purchase of $100 USD and asking how much, in their local currency, respondents would be willing to pay for shipping at different speeds.
First, the percentage of consumers who were willing to pay anything at all:

Key takeaways:

  • Consumers’ willingness to pay corresponds to how familiar they are with international shopping. Asian consumers, who are much more savvy cross border shoppers compared to their counterparts in other countries surveyed, are most willing to pay for shipping from the US.
  • In contrast, European consumers—who are used to buying from other European countries but shop less commonly outside of Europe —are less willing to pay.

And of course, we had to dig into how much international consumers are willing to pay. It’s important to note that we first converted the hypothetical $100 to respondents’ local currency in our survey question, then converted their responses to percentage of order value.

Key takeaways:

  • Distance from the U.S. has a strong correlation with consumer willingness to pay for faster shipping, though European consumers are willing to pay a higher percentage of order value for faster shipping options. This likely indicates that Europeans are more used to faster shipping, due to most of their imports being from other EU countries.
  • The commonality of responses between countries across the Atlantic and countries on the other side of the Pacific Ocean demonstrates that international consumers innately understand how geography impacts the cost of shipping.
  • The bottom line: Retailers should avoid setting international shipping prices at checkout based solely on the cost of shipping and consider placing premiums in markets where consumers value speed more highly.

BOXpoll™ by Pitney Bowes, a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture, and ecommerce logistics. Conducted by Pitney Bowes with Morning Consult // 1000 consumers in each country (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, South Korea and the United Kingdom) surveyed February 2022. © Copyright Pitney Bowes Inc.

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