94% of Brits are More Likely to Make an Online Purchase Due to Free Delivery

It’s amazing how big an influence delivery and returns costs have upon consumers’ decisions to buy goods online. Paying £90 for a new pair of trainers (or similar product) online can seem like nothing to some people, but the £3.99 delivery charge makes many consumers question the purchase entirely. At Whistl we surveyed just over 1,000 members of the British public to find out how delivery and returns policies impact their decisions to buy products online.

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Free Delivery Expectations
A massive 94% of people surveyed said that they were more likely to purchase something online if it has free delivery. Of these consumers, those in the 18 to 24 age bracket were most likely to do so, followed by those between the ages of 45 and 54 years old.

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Free delivery is also expected on every online purchase by one in four Brits. Of these, residents in Liverpool, Bristol and Newcastle place most of their emphasis on free delivery, believing it should be available with all items bought no matter how much or little is spent. However, the majority of Brits expect a free delivery option after a minimum spend of just £10.  

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Additional Charges
If delivery costs are deemed too high then around two thirds of Brits surveyed said that they wouldn’t make a purchase. As to what an appropriate delivery fee may be, the majority think that between £2 and £4 is a fair price to pay for delivery, regardless of how much the products being bought may cost. There is a slight regional difference, with consumers in Liverpool and Bristol again more likely to expect low delivery fees of no more than £2, while those in Manchester are more willing to spend more, with some finding delivery fees of £10+ to be acceptable.

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While some prioritise speed of delivery, most Brits are willing to wait an extra two or three days for items ordered if delivery is free. It seems that low delivery costs are the main aspect most British consumers seek out when buying products online.


An Overbuying Trend
In order to save on delivery fees about a third of Brits admit to overbuying to meet minimum spends, and then returning items. Residents in Edinburgh and Birmingham are most likely to do this purely to save on delivery fees, especially millennials under 35 years old. Women are also more likely to overbuy online and then return items than men, while also admitting they are less likely than men to make a purchase online if they think delivery costs are too great.

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Every year consumers in Great Britain overbuy by at least 10% to return items and avoid non-refundable delivery fees. This means many of us are making unnecessary purchases at the retailer’s cost. Plus, many Brits would rather spend up to 10% more to meet a minimum spend requirement for free delivery than pay a set fee, even though this may sometimes eclipse the set fee. Again, it is men rather than women who are more likely to spend over 10% extra to do so, along with those aged between 18 and 24 years old.

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International Purchases
A real show of how far Brits are willing to go in order to avoid delivery charges is that 55% said they’d rather buy internationally and experience longer waiting times, if it meant that they could avoid a hefty delivery fee. This time, men are more open to the idea of buying internationally to save money on delivery costs, as are those in the 25 to 34 age category (75% said they would compared to just 35% of over 65s). The younger generation are also more impatient, with under 35s prioritising quick delivery, while 45 to 54-year-olds are more willing to wait, with some stating that waiting an extra seven days for items is fine if the delivery is free.

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These results show that delivery costs have a real effect on British consumers’ decisions to buy items online. As it can be a real incentive for the majority, in order to improve sales most online retailers could benefit from offering free delivery, with the majority of consumers prioritising this over speed.