While more peak-season shopping will likely be done online this year than ever before in North America, one of the most important factors in a shopper’s decision to use the web will be cost rather than speed of delivery, according to a consumer survey conducted by Canadian parcel and freight service Purolater International, along with the Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research. In a series of random interviews conducted with Canadian and American consumers between Dec. 23, 2014, and Feb. 4, 2015, Purolator found that 78 percent of respondents from Canada and 58 percent of those from the U.S. opted for shipping that took four days or longer. Almost half of Canadian shoppers listed taxes and tariffs on goods as a “very important” factor in their decision to buy online. A majority of online shoppers in both countries considered the postal service an acceptable alternative to other delivery services.
The Purolator survey also revealed that 55 percent of American shoppers and 65 percent of Canadians will very often or always adjust their delivery date to a longer period to reduce shipping cost. Procrastinators – 53 percent of Americans and 43 percent of Canadians – surveyed said that they decided not to even buy an item if it’s not going to make it to the recipient in time for Christmas.
While prime shopping season has only just begun, preliminary Cyber Monday 2015 sales suggest that avoiding Black Friday crowds was also a major factor in consumers’ shopping behavior. According to data collected by Adobe, Cyber Monday sales were expected to top US$3 billion, a 12 percent increase over 2014. Adobe based the figure on data aggregated from more than 125 million visits to 4,500 retail websites. Adobe said it tracked 80 percent of all the top 100 U.S. retailers. In fact, by late morning of Cyber Monday, sales had hit $490 million, a 14 percent increase over sales at that time last year.
Adobe also said that the problem of out-of-stock items hit record levels during Cyber Monday 2015, with 13 out of every 100 products resulting in an out-of-stock message, twice the normal rate. U.S. retailer Target was so busy that its servers couldn’t handle the load, so many consumers were put in a queue to wait, or told to visit the site later. Victoria’s Secret, Neiman Marcus and Foot Locker all had similar problems.
Purolator projected that it will have a strong holiday season this year, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday generating a significant number of North American deliveries. The company anticipated the Dec. 15-17 will be its peak delivery days, with the bulk of that activity coming from holiday purchases from the previous two weeks. More than one-third of online shoppers in the Purolator survey from the previous peak said they didn’t return an online-purchased item because of the inconvenience of re-packaging it and the high cost of return shipping – especially in Canada, where one in four didn’t return an item due to shipping cost. Additionally, a majority of consumers in both countries rated ease of returns and the ability to check delivery status online as very important factors in selecting an e-tailer/carrier.