Consumers increasingly expect free delivery of items they buy online, and they are embracing options such as buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS) in order to avoid shipping charges, according to a National Retail Federation report released this month.
In its quarterly Consumer View report, NRF said 75 percent of consumers surveyed expect delivery to be free—even on orders of less than $50—up 68 percent compared with a year ago.
"Consumers want free delivery, and they're willing to meet retailers halfway to get it," NRF Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis Mark Mathews said in a statement announcing the findings. "If we can get their purchase to the store, they'll come pick it up if that's what it takes to avoid a delivery charge."
The study also found that many consumers now consider shipping costs even before getting to the checkout page, with 65 percent saying they look up free-shipping thresholds before adding items to their online shopping carts. Consumers also want their products fast, with 39 percent expecting two-day shipping to be free, and 29 percent saying they have backed out of a purchase because two-day shipping wasn't free, NRF said.
The study also found that most consumers who are aware of BOPIS options have tried it—and that the top reason for doing so was to avoid paying for shipping. Picking up at the cash register is still the most frequent practice, done by 83 percent of those who have bought online and picked up in-store. But as options grow, 63 percent said they would like to be able to use curbside pickup, 56 percent want merchandise delivered to the trunk of their cars, and 50 percent said they'd like to retrieve purchases from a locker, according to NRF.