choose delivery options ecommerce website

Free Delivery and Ecommerce – the Stats

Free delivery. ???? It’s something many of us just expect now, but how much of an impact does it have on conversion rate? We look at the statistics.

Delivery. It can be make or break for ecommerce businesses in terms of customer satisfaction, reviews and even margins on those low average order value sales. Get it right and you offer your customers a slick and seamless buying experience. Get it wrong and you land complaints, poor reviews and a whole lot of customer service headaches.

It’s not just finding the right provider that’s a challenge either. As soon as you’ve answered “how do we deliver?” you need to answer “how much do we charge to deliver?”

Buyers have become accustomed to free and fast delivery (thanks, Amazon). And while huge powerhouse retailers like Amazon can build this into their business model with apparent ease and make it a smart perk of Prime, it’s not something that’s as easy for smaller businesses to replicate.

Free Delivery Statistics – Our Top Findings

Here for the quick version? Here’s the top figures:

  • 45.6% of people say free delivery makes them more likely to buy from an online retailer
  • That makes free delivery 3 times likely to influence people to buy than a recommendation from a friend
  • Half of the UK population is prepared to spend more in order to qualify for free delivery
  • Almost 1 in 20 people would be prepared to spend more than an additional £40 in order to qualify for free delivery
  • 85% of the UK’s top online retailers have some sort of free delivery offering
  • 22% of the UK’s top retailers offer free delivery subscriptions (pay a fee for a month or year and get unlimited free delivery)
  • Almost 1 in 10 of the UK’s top retailers offer free delivery on all orders with no minimum order value required

Does Free Delivery Matter to Customers?

Yes. It definitely does.

We polled 1,000 people in the UK in June 2021 to find out whether or not they care about free delivery.

We asked them,

“Which of the following makes you more likely to buy from an online retailer? (Check all that apply)”

Here’s what they told us.

Free delivery and ecommerce statistics2

Which of the following would make you MORE likely to buy from an online retailer? (Check all that apply)% of Respondents Who Chose This
Free delivery45.6
Positive reviews on the website24.2
Website loads quickly7.8
A friend recommended them15
Having a discount code15.3
Having heard of them before12.5
None of the above36.1

By far, the lead answer from our options was free delivery.

45.6% of respondents told us that free delivery makes them more likely to buy from an online retailer. That’s 3 times as many as those who’d be more likely to be because a friend recommended them. 

How much more would people spend for free delivery?

Qualifying for free delivery with a certain minimum transaction value is pretty common. But how effective is it at getting people to commit to spending more?

We asked 1,000 people in the UK (in June 2021) the following question:

“How much more would you be prepared to spend in order to qualify for free delivery when shopping online?”

Here’s what the statistics say:

  • Just under half of people in the UK are prepared to spend at least some more when shopping online in order to qualify for free delivery
  • For just under a quarter, they’re prepared to spend up to a fiver
  • For 18.4% of respondents, they’ll spend more than £10 to qualify for free delivery

how much more would you pay to qualify for free delivery

How much more would you be prepared to spend in order to qualify for free delivery when shopping online?% Who Gave that Response
No More50.5
Up to £5 more23.8
£5.01 to £10 more7.3
£10.01 to £20 more4.6
£20.01 to £30 more6.2
£30.01 to £40 more3.3
More than £40 more4.3

How many UK retailers offer free delivery?

Globally, a report suggests 65% of retailers offer free delivery on at least some products.

But what about here in the UK?

We looked at the top 100 retailers (we selected the top 100 named in Internet Retailing’s top 500 list for 2020 and then removed TopShop as this site now redirects to Asos and removed Laura Ashley as its UK online retailing is now done through Next) to establish how prevalent free delivery of any description is.

We found:

  •  85% of the 98 online retailers we looked at have some sort of free delivery provision (either all orders, minimum value orders, some sort of subscription or a combination) 
  • 22% of the 98 retailers we looked at offer a free delivery subscription (Amazon Prime-esque model)
  • 9% of the 98 retailers offer free delivery on all orders with no minimum spend
  • 66% of them offer free delivery on orders of a minimum value
  • The average minimum order value (mean) of those retailers is £42 
  • For retailers offering unlimited free delivery for an annual subscription, the average annual subscription is £30
If you want to take a look at the data, you can download a copy here.

What affect does free delivery have on conversion rate?

Conversion rate is a phenomenally variable metric. It can depend on so much more than shipping. Think product, pricing, usability, payment methods you accept, imagery on your product pages, your reviews…. the list goes on.

But this case study suggested a conversion rate increase of 20% when introducing free delivery for one website. A case study I’ve worked on personally saw an increase of 17% by introducing free delivery with a minimum order value of £50 (a figure that is 11% higher than the average order value). In addition to the 17% conversion rate, we also saw an increase in average order value.

But of course, the best way to determine what free delivery might be able to do for your conversion rate is to test it.


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