Shoppers Prefer Easy Returns Over Quick Shipping

Instant gratification isn’t everything

In the ongoing battle for customers, more and more merchants (Nordstrom, eBay and Walmart among them) have been dangling the carrot of same-day delivery. It’s an enticing idea—and one that might also be a waste of time.

A new survey of 1,500 shoppers conducted by Boston Consulting Group shows that despite all the marketing hoopla around same-day delivery, only 9 percent of shoppers said the option makes a big difference. In fact, be it online or in a physical store, the factors that mattered more were lower prices (50 percent) and a free-return policy (35 percent). “The reality is that people care about the basics—price and the ease of returning the goods,” said Mel Wolfgang, partner in the Boston-based firm.

BCG principal Vlad Lukic added that while same-day delivery isn’t a new idea, “there was more buzz about it this past holiday season. Retailers talked about it more.” Their reasoning apparently followed the presumption that twentysomething shoppers crave instant gratification. To some degree, that supposition was true. Affluent millennials (18-34 yearolds with a yearly income above $150,000) were willing to pay up to $10 to receive their order on the same day, while other consumers refused to creep above $6.

But well-off millennial shoppers make up a mere 2 percent of the buyers out there. Plus, charging a premium for same-day delivery runs contrary to why many shoppers comparison shop in the first place: to save money.

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