The Importance of Fast and Free Delivery Across Marketplaces
Fast and free shipping has exploded onto the big online marketplaces, with fast shipping programs such as Amazon Prime and Walmart TwoDay Delivery offering customers fast and free delivery.
Offering fast and free delivery is business critical if you want to attract and retain customers, so we’re here to talk about the results we’ve seen and how to achieve it without killing your profits.
What is fast and free delivery?
Before jumping into the importance of fast and free shipping, let’s define what these terms mean to both customers and sellers.
Back in 2005, Amazon introduced 2-day delivery for Amazon Prime members, changing eCommerce shipping expectations forever. Today, online shoppers are “ok” with 2-5 day delivery speeds, “expect” 3-day delivery speeds, and are “driven” by next-day shipping.
With Amazon and Walmart both introducing next-day shipping options, we can expect the definition of fast shipping to get even faster over the next year or two. But, for now, fast shipping programs require deliveries of two-days or fewer.
For online shoppers, free shipping means shipping that doesn’t come with any additional charges once they’ve reached the checkout. But, for sellers, this doesn’t necessarily mean lost revenue.
Savvy marketplace sellers can absorb the cost of free shipping in other areas, including product prices, minimum basket size, cheaper fulfillment costs, and ROI from marketing spend.
Tip: Use a fulfillment calculator to project your costs, so you can build them into your pricing.
The importance of fast and free delivery
Now that we know what fast and free shipping are, let’s look at the importance of offering both to your shoppers. The value of fast and free shipping is demonstrated by the seen > clicked > sold > repeat model.
Online shoppers are more likely to see your product listings if they come with fast and free shipping. This is because preference is given to these listings in the search results, increasing your search ranking above that of your competitors.
Take a look at the top organic results when typing in “mop” to Walmart.com. All of the listings offer some form of fast delivery (three 2-day delivery and two NextDay).
Online shoppers are also more likely to click on your listing. This is because the majority of searchers are naturally attracted to the first-returned search results, and this attractiveness is enhanced when accompanied by a marketplace fast shipping program tag.
This has the added benefit of allowing you to compete on delivery rather than price. You no longer need to enter into a price war you cannot win to be clicked on; instead, you can offer value in the form of delivery options, keeping your profit intact.
Fast and free shipping are the top purchase motivators, making customers more likely to buy your product once they’ve clicked on your listing. This probability is greatly enhanced if you have won the buy box – something that fast shipping increases your chances of.
In addition, customers are more likely to increase their basket size because of the perceived value of convenience and cost-free delivery – giving the subconscious mind more money to splurge.
Finally, online shoppers are more likely to become repeat customers when fast delivery is offered. By providing this outstanding customer service, customers receive their items quickly, escalating that buyer’s high, which prompts them to buy from you again and give you that five-star rating you’ve been waiting for.
Together, this results in increased sales and enhanced happiness; both contributing to the flywheel effect of successful marketplace selling.
How marketplaces leverage fast, free delivery
It isn’t enough to offer fast and free delivery on one marketplace. In order to scale and capture consumer spend wherever your shoppers go, you need to offer the same experience across marketplaces.
Having your eCommerce brand and products consistently returned in the top search results, regardless of the platform, increases customer recognition. Customers begin to recognize your brand, which triggers the mere exposure effect, where customers develop a preference for something familiar to them.
Having consistent practices across your marketplaces also increases customer trust in your brand. It demonstrates that you care about customers regardless of where they shop, and that you aren’t trying to trick customers out of money because they bought from Amazon rather than Walmart.
Finally, offering a consistent level of customer service across your eCommerce stores allows customers to remain loyal to your brand. They don’t need to look for a different seller because they have an Amazon voucher to use, or because they’re buying other items from Walmart. Which leads us nicely to the importance of shipping beyond marketplaces.
The importance of free and fast delivery beyond marketplaces
The eCommerce ideal is for customers to visit and buy through your own website, using Shopify or another eCommerce platform. Direct sales are better for profits, brand building, and customer experience.
However, stepping away from the policies and security of online marketplaces is a gamble for shoppers. Therefore, it’s crucial that you provide an identical or superior shipping service that feels familiar, reduces risk, and encourages the shopper to convert.
You can achieve this through:
- Displaying fast shipping tags and banners throughout your website, similar to those used on online marketplaces
- Offering guaranteed 2-day deliveries and compensation for missed deadlines, to reduce the risk of buying directly from you
- Using live countdown timers to visually demonstrate how long a customer has left to order for 2-day delivery, to encourage the shopper to convert
How to achieve fast shipping
So, now that you know the importance of offering fast and free shipping across your eCommerce business, how do you go about putting it into practice?
There are two main marketplace fulfillment methods:
1. In-house fulfillment
In-house fulfillment is often the go-to option for many eCommerce sellers. It involves the storing, packing, and shipping of products yourself, using your own warehouse, staff, and shipping carrier.
The in-house method of fulfillment comes with the benefits of:
- Complete control over your fulfillment process, including the shipping carriers used, the location of warehouses, and being able to access to stock
- No third-party fulfillment costs or fees to pay, other than your shipping carrier service charges
- No additional systems to download and integrate with
However, when considering in-house marketplace fulfillment, it’s important to consider:
- The need and ability to maintain fast shipping speeds and standards during busy periods or when expanding
- The requirement to source low cost, fast shipping options to minimize the expense of offering free shipping
- Your ability to meet the fast shipping program eligibility requirements for each marketplace
2. Outsourced fulfillment
The alternative fulfillment option for marketplace sellers is outsourced fulfillment. Outsourced fulfillment involves sending your products to a multi-channel fulfillment partner, who then ships products at speed to your customers.
Using the right outsourced fulfillment provider for your marketplace orders should come with:
- Faster deliveries thanks to expertise, geographical locations, and streamlined processes
- Cost-effective fulfillment, with preferable shipping rates and cost-efficient processes
- Scalability, without worrying about additional warehousing space, more staff, or expensive software
However, outsourced fulfillment is only successful when your fulfillment partner has the following in place:
- Multiple warehouse locations to serve the whole of the country, within 2-days or fewer
- Multi-channel integration with the marketplaces you trade on, including Shopify fulfillment
- Automatic qualification for fast shipping programs, including Walmart TwoDay Delivery and Seller Fulfilled Prime
So we’ve covered the value of fast and free delivery, and given you a few tips on how to implement it across your channels. It has some significant benefits for your brand, business, and customers. The rest is up to you.
Rachel Go Content Strategist and Inbound Marketer
Rachel Go handles content and partnerships at Deliverr. Deliverr provides fast and affordable fulfillment for your Shopify, Walmart, Amazon, and eBay stores, helping to boost sales through programs like 2-day delivery for Shopify, Walmart 2-day delivery, Seller Fulfilled Prime, and eBay Fast ‘N Free.
Deliverr’s FBA-like multi-channel fulfillment comes with clear pricing, easy on-boarding and a hassle free experience so you can focus on growing your eCommerce business.