Skip to content Blog

From click to doorstep: Delivering on shipping expectations in the era of fast and free

May 30, 2024 - Alyssa Wolfe
Share this on

Related Fulfillment Posts

Dedicated fulfillment site takeover white paper

Learn how to streamline commerce operations with a dedicated fulfillment site takeover

Read more

More from

Draper James selects as its omnichannel fulfillment partner’s proprietary software, nationwide network of omnichannel fulfillment centers and apparel expertise to support leading Southern lifestyle brand

Read more
Delivering on shipping expectations in the era of fast and free |


Retail giants like Amazon, Walmart and Target have set the bar high for shipping, delivery and fulfillment capabilities. With ample resources, these ecommerce behemoths can offer extensive options that many retailers can’t. And while it’s true that consumer expectations lean heavily toward fast and free shipping, it’s not always a deal-breaker if a retailer doesn’t offer it. However, meeting these expectations can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. So, the question is, exactly what do today’s customers expect, and how can brands ensure they deliver?

What do consumers expect from shipping and delivery?

In Wunderman Thompson’s The Future Shopper Report 2023, 48% of consumers would want faster delivery, while only 43% would choose cheaper delivery. The average number of days consumers are prepared to wait for orders across all categories is 2.15 days.

Shoppers are willing to wait slightly longer for clothing and technology but want health and pharmaceutical products more quickly, an average of 1.59 days. Notably, 20% of consumers want their beauty products delivered in less than 2 hours and 38% in less than 24 hours.

However, despite a desire for faster shipping and a willingness to pay for it, two other elements are key to the shipping and delivery experience: Visibility and accuracy.

How to determine your customers shipping and delivery expectations

Each industry and its customers will have varying needs and expectations around shipping and delivery. For example, a shopper ordering a temperature-sensitive product might want same- or next-day shipping, while a customer who ordered exercise equipment is okay with longer shipping times and a higher price if they can have white glove delivery.

The best way to determine what your customers want, need and expect is to take some key steps:

  • Conduct surveys and provide feedback forms: Regularly solicit customer feedback through surveys and feedback forms. Ask specific questions about their shipping preferences, acceptable delivery times and past experiences.
  • Analyze purchase and delivery data: Examine historical data on customer orders, including shipping options selected, delivery times and any related complaints or compliments. This analysis helps identify trends and common preferences.
  • Monitor competitor offerings: Keep an eye on what your competitors are offering in terms of shipping and delivery. This benchmarking can provide insights into industry standards and customer expectations.
  • Utilize customer service interactions: Leverage insights from customer service interactions. Analyze the questions and issues raised by customers regarding shipping and delivery to understand their priorities and pain points.
  • Segment your customer base: Segment your customer base to understand different groups' preferences. For instance, frequent shoppers might expect faster delivery, while occasional buyers might prioritize lower shipping costs.
  • Stay informed about market trends: Stay updated on market trends and advancements in logistics and shipping technologies. Adapting to new trends can help meet evolving customer expectations.
  • Test and optimize shipping options: Experiment with different shipping options and delivery times. A/B test these options to see which ones resonate most with your customers and optimize based on the results.

Use the information you gather to create memorable post-purchase experiences.

square ad, better fulfillment starts with better software

How to create shipping experiences that drive repeat purchases

While free shipping is currently the biggest draw, consumers are often flexible in their expectations as long as the options are clear and the overall experience is positive. Brands can create exceptional shipping and delivery experiences that drive repeat purchases by implementing the following elements:

Offer multiple shipping options

Providing a variety of shipping options caters to different customer needs and preferences. Some customers may prioritize speed and be willing to pay for expedited shipping, while others may prefer cost-effective standard shipping. Offering same-day, next-day and free shipping for orders over a certain amount can enhance the shopping experience. Flexibility in shipping choices can influence a customer's decision to purchase from your store again because your brand is willing to accommodate a variety of needs.

Ensure orders are on time

Timely delivery foundational to a positive shipping experience. Consistently meeting delivery deadlines helps build trust and reliability with your customers. Implementing efficient logistics and robust tracking systems ensures that orders are picked and packed, dispatched and delivered promptly. Reliable fulfillment can lead to repeat purchases and loyalty by improving customer satisfaction.

Ensure orders are accurate

Order accuracy is vital to maintaining customer trust. Use advanced order management systems to minimize errors in order processing and fulfillment. Double-check orders before dispatch and use quality control measures to ensure the correct items are sent to the right customers. Accurate orders lead to fewer returns and exchanges, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Provide tracking and updates

Keeping customers informed about their order status through tracking and updates is essential. Send regular notifications via email or SMS about the shipping progress and expected delivery date. Providing a tracking number allows customers to monitor their orders in real-time, reducing anxiety and enhancing their shopping experience. Transparent communication can significantly elevate the customer experience.

Create flexible return policies

A hassle-free return policy can positively impact customer retention. Ensure your return policy is clear, straightforward and easily accessible on your website or in communications. Offer multiple return options, such as in-store, prepaid shipping labels and extended return periods. A flexible return policy can reassure customers about their purchase decisions and encourage them to buy from you again.

Personalize the experience

Personalizing the shipping experience can make customers feel valued and appreciated. Include personalized thank-you notes, offer customized packaging options, and tailor promotions based on customer preferences and purchase history. Personal touches can create a memorable unboxing experience and foster a deeper connection with your brand, driving repeat purchases.

The benefits of a positive shipping experience

Today’s customers value the end-to-end experience. However, the post-purchase can leave a lasting impression since it’s the final leg of the journey. When you focus on elevating your shipping and delivery processes, you are better able to meet customer expectations. This leads to significant benefits, including:

Customer loyalty

A positive shipping experience can build customer loyalty. Customers who receive their orders on time, accurately and with clear communication are more likely to trust your brand. This trust translates into repeat purchases. Customers prefer to buy from businesses that consistently meet their expectations. Offering reliable and pleasant shipping experiences can turn one-time buyers into loyal, long-term customers who advocate for your brand.

Increased conversion rates

A well-executed shipping strategy can boost your conversion rates. By offering multiple shipping options, transparent delivery times and real-time tracking, you address potential concerns that might deter customers from completing their purchases. A clear and user-friendly shipping process reduces cart abandonment rates and encourages customers to follow through with their transactions. Enhanced shipping experiences provide a competitive edge, attracting new customers and driving sales growth.

Enhanced brand reputation

Delivering a positive shipping experience contributes to a strong brand reputation. Satisfied customers are more likely to leave positive reviews and share their experiences on social media, which can attract new customers. A good reputation for reliable shipping and customer service sets your brand apart from competitors, fostering a positive perception in the marketplace.

Reduced customer service issues

Effective shipping practices can reduce the volume of customer service inquiries related to shipping delays, lost packages and order inaccuracies. By minimizing these issues, your customer service team can focus on providing exceptional support for other aspects of the customer experience. Fewer complaints and issues mean higher overall customer satisfaction and a smoother operational workflow.

Improved customer satisfaction

A positive shipping experience leads to better overall customer satisfaction. Customers appreciate seamless, worry-free transactions and are more likely to return for future purchases. High satisfaction levels can lead to customer retention, positive word-of-mouth and increased lifetime value for each customer.

Expert 3PL help for your shipping strategies

A third-party logistics (3PL) provider can streamline your ecommerce fulfillment and shipping strategies by leveraging their expertise and infrastructure to offer multiple shipping options and ensure timely and accurate deliveries. offers advanced tracking and reporting tools, allowing you to keep customers informed and manage expectations effectively. Talk to our team today for more information.

unified commerce delivered animated ad