How Shipping Will Affect Shopping This Holiday Season

With today’s quick-ship options, ecommerce has given procrastinators an alternative to a trip to the mall or long lines at the post office.

Faster than a global speeding reindeer on Christmas Eve, shipping has taken leaps and bounds in progress over the past year. This season, expect postal workers to be delivering down to the wire, and a new army of delivery people to be knocking on your door.

Shipping expectations change retail seasonality.

Last year was the first year we saw changes in shipping policy really having an impact on when people bought. What was the biggest day for growth in ecommerce that Criteo saw in its retail network? Surprisingly, it wasn’t Cyber Monday (November 28th), the week after Thanksgiving, but the 23rd of December, the Friday just before Christmas. Conversions on this day increased 87% year over year, evidence of how easy it’s become to nab those last-minute purchases (and get them delivered on time). With today’s quick-ship options, ecommerce has given procrastinating shoppers a solution that doesn’t necessitate an inconvenient trip to the mall or standing in long lines at the post office.

Fast, free shipping is table stakes.

While Amazon may have changed shopper expectations when they began to offer free two-day shipping to Prime members way back in 2005, and same-day delivery on select items a decade later, they’re no longer the only ones innovating in the space.

“In today’s world of e-commerce, two-day free shipping is table stakes.”

Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart Ecommerce

In January of 2017, Walmart introduced a program with free two-day shipping without having to pay a hefty upfront membership fee of $99.  The only catch is that the minimum order size is $35 – still better than the $50 minimum that’s common across many ecommerce sites.

Same-day delivery goes national.

In the delivery game, the fastest – and freest – company wins. Sensing a lucrative and ancillary business opportunity, Uber launched the service UberRush, which puts the fee onto the retailer or manufacturer. In August of this year, Best Buy announced that they would offer same-day delivery in 40 metropolitan areas.  Macy’s also upped their game and will be offering same-day in 33 markets. Both retailers partner with 3rd party provider Deliv to get the goods where they need to be.

There’s been so much movement in the delivery space that according to a Boston Retail Partners survey: “51 percent of retailers say they offer same-day delivery, a massive jump from the 16 percent offering it only a year ago. Increasingly popular and helping to make those same day deliveries happen, third-party apps like Uber and Lyft have moved up from 20 percent of the same-day market to 32 percent in the last 12 months.”

Will fruitcakes stand up to flying burritos?

In late 2016, something that felt like fake news lit up social media: drone delivery of a Chipotle burrito to a college campus, pointing in the direction of where the need for speed is going.  Jeffrey Neville, Vice President at Boston Retail partners believes, “Autonomous delivery and distribution are the next step, with self-driving vehicles soon a reality and a few food delivery start-ups already testing the concept.”

In this “I want it now” culture, Santa may not need a sleigh, but when crunched for time, he might consider ordering a drone or a car to get those goods there before the first present is opened.

For up-to-the-minute holiday info, including our tips and trends for marketers and retailers throughout the season, stop by our Enlightened Holiday headquarters.

to our newsletter

Fresh sales trends and consumer insights to help
you plan and win.