Patience may not be dead... yet

Most consumers prioritize price over shipping speed and brand loyalty. But if delivery is too slow, retailers risk losing the purchase entirely.

Pop quiz: Sally is holiday shopping for her prickly mother-in-law. After browsing personalized bracelets, specialty chocolate boxes and quippy coffee mugs, she finally spots the perfect gift: a cloud-soft throw blanket from a cause-driven brand. Add to cart, head to checkout, and now... the shipping page. 

Which options should the merchant offer to accommodate her expectations around speed and price, amid skyrocketing shipping costs

It’s a fine line for retailers to navigate, especially as many consumers move further away from cities, making last-mile delivery that’s both economical & speedy an endangered species.

It’s a tradeoff retailers are going to have to make in the next year (as higher surcharges for certain extended and ‘remote’ zip codes are introduced): offer more economical shipping options at reasonable speeds, or maintain the same speeds at a higher cost.

This round of BOXpoll surveys reveals most consumers would rather wait 5-7 days for free shipping than pay to upgrade to 2-4 day—but if expected delivery time exceeds 7 days, the number of consumers who are willing to click “buy” tails off.

We’re taking a deep dive into demographics and looking closely at who’s willing to pay more, who’s willing to comparison shop and who’s most likely to abandon cart.

faster shipping

Key Takeaways:

  • Most shoppers of course don’t want to pay for shipping at all, let alone expedited. When it comes to all general products, almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents said they were unlikely to upgrade. Here’s a closer look at who might be willing to pay for expedited shipping:
    • Surprising no one, younger generations proved to be the most impatient shoppers. Almost half (43%) of Millennials and more than one-third (38%) of Gen Zers are likely to pay for speed. Meanwhile, 83% of Baby Boomers are happy to wait a few extra days on the new Tom Clancy novel.
    • Parents are almost twice as likely (41%) to pay than adults without children (23%). Those who don’t have the luxury of time are willing to pay a premium to minimize time spent waiting.
    • It’s no shock that shoppers with annual household incomes exceeding $100K were 10 percentage points more likely to pay extra than those with lower incomes. However, we were interested to see that those earning 50K-100K were just as likely (27%) as those earning less than 50K to upgrade their shipping.
    • Urban residents are significantly more likely (39%) to pay for speed than suburban (24%) and rural (22%) residents. It’s a trend investors have acted on, leading to an explosion of ultrafast delivery services in cities across the U.S.
  • The most likely product category to earn a shipping upgrade is electronics, almost certainly because of high product value. Almost one-third (32%) of consumers decided that if they’re already paying an arm and a leg for the new iPhone, they might as well throw in an extra shoulder to get it faster.
    • Food/beverage and apparel/footwear tied for second place, both earning upgrades from 29% of consumers. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Just because consumers prioritize cost over speed doesn’t mean they don't care about speed at all. Most (56%) consumers are willing to shop around for faster free shipping if their first-choice retailer’s shipping time exceeds 7 days.
  • Responses from this question confirm demographic trends around which shoppers most value speed.
    • People with children (67%), people with household incomes of more than 100K (64%) and Millennials (63%) are the most likely groups to shop for faster free shipping alternatives. However, their demographic counterparts are not far behind in willingness to shop around. 
    • Baby Boomers are the least likely group (49%) to look to other retailers for faster free shipping.
  • The types of products that consumers want faster echoed findings from our first question. People value speed most with electronics, apparel/footwear and food/beverage.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consumer responses tell a consistent story: cost beats speed and brand loyalty for most, especially among older generations. Surprisingly, more than half of all adults, and at least 45% of each demographic group, will accept a 7-day delivery time in return for a unique brand. 
  • Baby Boomers (67%) and Gen Xers (58%) are most willing to wait longer in exchange for free shipping, while time-crunched Millennials (32%) and Gen Zers (28%) are the most willing to turn to a competitor in search of faster delivery, even for a unique or preferred product.

Consistent with expectations, younger generations are less patient. If shipping is going to take longer than 7 days, more than half of Gen Zers (54%) and Millennials (51%) are going to rethink the purchase, and a sizable portion of that group (28% of Gen Zers and 32% of Millennials) will seek out alternatives.

BOXpoll™ by Pitney Bowes, a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture,and ecommerce logistics. Conducted by Pitney Bowes with Morning Consult //2094 US consumers surveyed October-November 2021.© Copyright Pitney Bowes Inc.