While the research suggests that 86% of UK shoppers prefer free over fast delivery, the majority of retailers assume that customers want a fast shipping service above anything else. As a result, just 27% of retailers say they offer free standard shipping every day, and almost a quarter of retailers admit that they don’t use free shipping as a promotional tool.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at how some of the biggest online retailers are promoting the service – and perhaps what they could be doing better.
Argos is one retailer that firmly favours fast delivery.
Its FastTrack service is highlighted throughout its website, heavily promoting the fact that customers can get their hands on products the very same day as placing the order, seven days a week.
While the £3.95 price point could arguably put off customers who do prefer free delivery, its Click and Collect service means there is also a fast and free alternative – a feature that combines the best of both worlds.
Interestingly, Argos does offer free standard delivery on selected items (in an estimated four working days), but this option is kept a little under wraps, with the retailer clearly placing greater value on its FastTrack option.
B&Q is not quite as transparent as Argos, with the price of its next day and standard delivery services only being highlighted at the checkout (or in the dedicated delivery info section).
It also fails to use the word ‘free’ alongside its click and collect service, and although this is an arguably obvious detail its exclusion seems like a bit of an oversight.
That being said, its free delivery on items over £50 is nicely promoted, making sense for customers who will naturally buy bigger or bulkier items online.
I also like the icons on category pages that tell customers whether items are available for pick up in-store at a glance.
John Lewis is a little less worried about the speed of its delivery service, instead choosing to promote free services – both in terms of standard delivery and click and collect.
If Temando’s research is correct, and the majority of customers do value low or no-cost shipping, this could work in its favour.
However, the fact that customers need to spend £50 to qualify could mean that people are more likely to go in-store. And while it’s a tactic used to increase overall order value, the trend for webrooming (browsing online before buying in-store) could also contribute to customers wanting to look elsewhere.
Last week, Tesco announced that it is to roll out its same-day delivery service across the UK, allowing customers to receive groceries from 7pm onwards if they order before 1pm.
Unsurprisingly, the supermarket is now heavily promoting this online, highlighting how it can bring customers even greater levels of convenience.
While the service costs between £3 and £9, it is being offered free for a limited period for members of its delivery saver service. But according to Temando, price is not a deal breaker when customers really desire convenience. Its research shows that same-day delivery is the service that most customers are willing to pay extra for, with 56% of women and 57% of men agreeing.
With the likes of Amazon setting the bar for this kind of convenience, it’s not surprising that supermarkets are starting to introduce it.
River Island often uses delivery promotions to increase online conversions. It is currently offering customers free worldwide delivery for a limited time only.
With a prominent site-wide banner on the homepage and a creative tagline, it’s an effective example of how to use free delivery to boost short-term sales.
Again, it looks like River Island is veering toward free rather than fast as its selling point. It also promises free click and collect, and once the current promotion is over, free delivery on orders over £100.
Meanwhile, the absence of visible returns information is a bit of a let down. Over a fifth of women are reported to abandon a purchase if free returns are not available, meaning that this could have an adverse impact on conversion rates.
Marks & Spencer is one of the few online retailers that does not visibly highlight its delivery information at the top of its homepage – you’ll only find it if you scroll down to the very bottom.
That being said, the services are clearly explained here, with M&S favouring the word ‘free’ across the board to pique the interest of customers.
Its product pages also provide a lot of clear and concise information, including an eye-catching ‘free delivery’ notice in red.
In terms of the actual delivery, M&S gives customers a load of options, offering standard delivery, nominated day, free over £50, and click and collect. The retailer could most definitely shout about this a little more on its homepage, even if it means moving its current banner higher up the page.
Clarks is currently choosing to offer a special code for free standard delivery. While it’s similar to River Island’s strategy of using a short-term shipping offer, the inclusion of a code is a bit of a strange choice, only adding an extra step in the customer’s journey.
The fact that it’s promoted on the homepage also means that there is nothing exclusive about it.
Perhaps it is trying to make customer feel like they’re getting something extra. However, with most people now expecting free or fast delivery as standard, customers might feel it doesn’t provide anything of real value.
Warby Parker cements its customer-focused service with the promise of free shipping in the US and selected countries. This is obviously a sweet deal in itself, but it also goes one step further in its customer-centric approach with the ‘Home Try-On’ feature.
This allows customers to pick five frames to try for five days, before sending back the four pairs they don’t want for free.
While it is undoubtedly a big expense for the company, Warby Parker demonstrates the value of free shipping, ramping up word-of-mouth marketing and increasing customer loyalty thanks to the service.
Warby Parker has a pretty good selection, you can pick 5 to try on at home and they’ll send em for free, don’t even pay shipping & handling pic.twitter.com/lwWI1miSbE
— (@Jibaye_) July 16, 2017
JD Sports is yet another retailer using free delivery as a limited offer. Its inclusion of a countdown timer makes it one of the most effective examples of the bunch though, using urgency to prompt customers into action.
It also promotes this throughout the website, prominently highlighting free delivery on its category and product pages.
Temando suggests that shipping is not just about the delivery of items – extra factors like tracking orders and options for leaving items in safe places are also important. JD Sports has a useful ‘Track My Order’ feature, which also helps to improve the customer experience.
Finally, ASOS uses reliable delivery to instil loyalty in customers. Its Premier Delivery programme costs £9.95 per year for unlimited next day delivery and click and collect – an undeniably enticing deal for regular shoppers.
The brand is pretty adept at promoting the service too, nicely highlighting both the fast and free nature of the service in its marketing copy.
Elsewhere, it gives customers lots of choice and up-front information, helping to prevent customers from abandoning purchases at the checkout due to surprise costs.
Even using the word ‘options’ here effectively evokes the retailer’s focus on flexibility.