Shipping: The Hidden Cost of Online Shopping

Online shopping is a convenient way for customers to seek out the best prices. But it is not as simple as one may think.

The consumer decision-making process consists of five stages:

  1. Need Recognition
  2. Information Search
  3. Evaluation of Alternatives
  4. Purchase Decision
  5. Purchase Evaluation

But what about the hidden costs of online shopping? How many of your customers make a purchase decision, accept the shopping cart total, only to close the web browser the moment they see the cost of shipping?

I know I do this on a regular basis, especially if the shipping cost is what I would consider inflated or unreasonable. Shipping isn’t something I enjoy paying for, because it doesn’t add anything of value to my order. I start the decision making process all over again, by reevaluating my “need” and searching for alternatives. I visit seeking out free shipping coupon codes, google the product name + free shipping, or merely seek out a online store with a $5 flat shipping rate.

Many people feel that free shipping is a must in this economy:

In a recent comScore study, 72% of consumers said that if an e-commerce site eliminated free shipping, they would use another e-commerce site that did offer free shipping. Last week the LA Times reported that this year, nearly 80% of consumers said they were more likely to shop online with a retailer that offers free shipping, compared with 60% who said that last year.

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