Shipping costs key for shoppers, says Pitney Bowes study

The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday sales will rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion — a slight improvement from last year. eMarketer projects 2013 U.S. retail ecommerce holiday season sales will to grow about 15.1 percent to $61.8 billion, up from $53.7 billion in 2012.
With that, a survey by Stamford-based Pitney Bowes found nearly half of Americans (47 percent) are paying more attention to shipping as part of the overall shopping experience now compared to three years ago. With access to goods from many sources, consumers are prepared to walk away from a purchase if presented with excessive shipping costs. And, they do.
Among those surveyed, half (49 percent) have at some time abandoned their shopping cart, whether online, in store, or over the phone, due to shipping costs. On average, the threshold for abandoning a purchase occurs when shipping fees are $20 or more. Men have a higher threshold for cost, with $24 for shipping being the average tipping point.
“Shipping has become a considerable factor in consumers’ buying choices. In fact, there’s now a blurred line between the decision on a shipping method and the selection of a product when comes to the overall buying decision and customer experience and free shipping is just table stakes today,” said Jim Hendrickson, vice president and general manager of shipping solutions, Pitney Bowes, in prepared comments. “The survey found free shipping is by far more important to Americans surveyed over fast shipping (77 percent versus 19 percent).”
Retailers must leverage and manage their shipping costs and returns process and create a good experience for their client, he said.
“Retailers need to be thinking: How do I manage my shipping costs out of ecommerce so I can ultimately give my client a lower cost for shipping or give it to them for free? The entire purchase experience is what matters to the buyer today,” Hendrickson said in prepared comments.