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Do shipping options affect sales?

Does only having one shipping provider affect sales?



11:18 pm on Mar 10, 2011 (gmt 0)


I'm curious if there has been any studies regarding the shipping options in relation to sales. Assuming that all shipping rates are fair and relatively similar, is there an advantage to offering USPS, UPS, and FedEx?

I know people have their preferences and have horror stories with all of them -- that's not my question. My question is specifically whether anyone has done usability research to determine which combinations make any difference.



[edited by: lorax at 6:15 pm (utc) on Mar 13, 2011]


4:27 pm on Mar 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

In 14 years of doing ecommerce websites I've never encountered one customer who said "What? You only ship FedEx? Sorry, that's a deal breaker for me."

Carrier makes no difference, but PRICE does. Usually the post office is cheaper (at least for those who don't need what they're ordering right away), so try to offer USPS when possible.


5:13 pm on Mar 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

At my last company we found that specifying the carrier was restrictive as we could not switch when there were issues of cost or reliability.
We eventually changed to simply offer service level (next day, next day AM, etc) and picked the carrier to fit. We only ever had one customer who insisted on a specific carrier and I think that was only because we gave him the choice in the first place.


5:55 pm on Mar 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

In 14 years of doing ecommerce websites I've never encountered one customer who said "What? You only ship FedEx? Sorry, that's a deal breaker for me."

Really? It's a deal breaker for me. I'm sure I'm not alone.

But you said 'customer'. Which I wouldn't be - I'd move on to the next vendor that offers USPS. You know I'm not going to call you either and ask - you presented me with the options and that's it.

Not everyone cares. But some do - that's clear. By not offering options, you will lose those sales. That could be a big number or a small number, but it's greater than 0.

It's like your site not being visible at all in a specific browser - just completely offline. We can discuss if that browser is firefox or opera (i.e. how big the marketshare) but I think most folks would suggest your browser needs to be at least visible to everyone. I know the OP was asking this - is it opera or firefox, and I don't have that answer. Quite possibly it's opera. But cash from opera users apparently spends almost as well as cash from firefox users :).

If you're not prepared to offer alternatives online, I'd at least suggest you put up a note in the shipping options that says 'we only offer fedex online, and that's fine with most of our clients. If you simply must have another shipping option, please call us and we'll happily arrange it, at cost'.


7:55 pm on Mar 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am sure you are not alone; some people have been burned by X and stray away from them. Your browser example is a little different though, since I can look at analytics data and determine which browsers my users use and decide based on that data and the amount of effort required whether or not to support a particular browser.

Shipping options are slightly different in this regard because there aren't any breadcrumbs that indicate what users would have liked to see. Like some of the earlier responders on this thread said, the biggy for me is shipping speed. Beyond that, the advantage I see to having more choice is choosing the least cost. But at the end of the day, to me its like asking for Coke where they only serve Pepsi and most people are like "whatever".

While this seems natural (and not considering people with a grudge), I was hoping to see some research to see what people actually do, or if you were only going to support 2 of them, which should you pick?



[edited by: lorax at 10:37 pm (utc) on Mar 13, 2011]


12:47 am on Mar 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just don't show too many choices or you'll confuse people. Don't show a long list of 35 shipping options.

Most of my stuff goes USPS, and is under 2 lbs.

We offer a flat shipping rate for the cheapest option, and then variable pricing for quicker service.

If the weight is say under 2 lbs, we still offer First Class Mail, even though the limit is 13 oz. Then we discount Priority in an effort to up-sell and collect a tiny bit more money. It'd ship Priority Mail anyways, so we offer Priority at say $1.59 extra, and a lot of people upgrade.

If they still choose First Class Mail, there's one final last chance to upgrade just after the order has been placed. There's an ajax button at the "confirmed - thank you page". One final up-sell.

For people who prefer UPS, there's a button/link below the USPS options that says, "prefer time definite, fully tracking shipping? - we also offer UPS". They click that, and it loads the UPS shipping options via ajax.

Never offered FedEx. Just don't want to deal with another API and system when this seems to work.

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