5 Shipping Pitfalls to Avoid for a Better User Experience

by: Zain Alami10/10/2023

Quick Summary The intensifying competition and the relentless drive of DTC brands to set new standards are catalyzing yet another significant shift in the e-commerce landscape. This shift is characterized by consumers' heightened expectations, particularly in terms of speed and convenience. So how do you highlight shipping for a better e-commerce user experience? And what are some common pitfalls to steer clear of? Read on.

The e-commerce industry is a landscape of ongoing evolution, marked not only by constant change but also by an increasingly rapid rate of transformation. Traditionally, trends in this space followed a multiyear trajectory, gradually evolving over time. However, what distinguishes the present state of eCommerce is the dramatic acceleration of these trends, a reality unlike anything seen before.

The intensifying competition and the relentless drive of DTC brands to set new standards are catalyzing yet another significant shift in the e-commerce landscape. This shift is characterized by consumers' heightened expectations, particularly in terms of speed and convenience.

So, why is speed such a critical factor in the e-commerce landscape? McKinsey's research reveals that when delivery times extend beyond what consumers perceive as reasonable, almost half of consumers actively seek alternative options. 

Now, what is "too long" for consumers? The same studies found that more than 90% of online shoppers in the United States now anticipate complimentary shipping within a two- to three-day window. This expectation underscores the significance of speed and promptness in meeting the demands of today's online shoppers.

In essence, speed is no longer merely a competitive advantage in e-commerce; it has become a fundamental expectation. So how do you highlight shipping for a better e-commerce user experience? And what are some common pitfalls to steer clear of? Read on.

1. Not Communicating Shipping Options Early Enough

It's undeniable that free and expedited shipping are major selling points, yet effectively relaying this benefit is just as critical. Remarkably, a significant 75% of global shoppers meticulously consider shipping costs when navigating their online shopping experience.

To harness the full potential of free and fast shipping, it's vital to make these benefits highly visible and accessible throughout your e-commerce platform. This entails strategically placing information about free shipping thresholds, delivery times, and return policy in key areas of your website. For instance, positioning this information next to product descriptions or alongside the "Add to Cart" feature can be especially effective. 

Merchants could also look into creating a dedicated shipping information page that outlines their shipping policies, available shipping methods, delivery timeframes, any associated costs and even FAQs. Include a link to this page in your website's footer for easy access.

By doing so, e-commerce businesses can leverage this competitive advantage to not only attract customers but also cultivate brand loyalty and reduce cart abandonment. When customers encounter clear and enticing information about shipping right from the initial stages of their shopping journey, they are more likely to be drawn to your offerings and appreciate the transparency your brand provides.

2. Not Providing Precise Estimates

While "delivery speed" and "delivery dates" may seem similar at first glance, they hold significant distinctions, particularly from the perspective of customers.

For instance, "delivery speed" typically appears as something like "Standard: 2 Business Days - $5.95." However, this often causes hesitation and even cart abandonment when timeliness is of utmost importance to the customer. In contrast, the "delivery date" is presented as "Delivers Thursday, October 12th."

According to Baymard's e-commerce UX benchmark, 41% of websites do not incorporate delivery dates into their checkout process. This omission introduces complexity and uncertainty, posing a risk that users may hesitate or base their delivery selection, and ultimately their purchase decision, on unreliable assumptions.

To enhance precision and clarity for users concerned about the timing of their order's arrival, websites should consider providing an estimated "Delivery Date" for each shipping option directly within the shipping selection interface. By calculating this anticipated delivery date, websites can alleviate the guesswork for users. They won't need to worry about factors such as the order cutoff day, potential holidays, weekend delivery availability, order processing times, or internal order processing deadlines.

Instead, users can focus on a straightforward choice, such as deciding whether they want to pay an additional $2 to receive their order on "Thursday, October 12th" rather than "Saturday, October 14th." This approach simplifies the decision-making process and enhances the overall user experience.

3. Failing to present Cut-off Dates

In addition to providing the delivery date, many users also seek information on the cut-off time by which they must place their order to ensure delivery by that specified date. This consideration holds true for all users, but it gains particular significance for those who have opted for expedited shipping and paid extra for swifter delivery.

Users tend to perceive the displayed delivery date as a commitment regarding when they can expect their items. Therefore, not presenting a cutoff time poses the risk of a user selecting a shipping option but inadvertently missing the unspecified cutoff point, resulting in their order arriving later than anticipated.

To address this issue arising from the presentation of the cutoff time as a static, time zone–specific date and time, it's advisable to present the cutoff time as a countdown. For instance, displaying a message like "Order in the next 43 minutes to receive your order by Thursday, October 12," rather than specifying "Order by 9 AM ET to receive your order by Thursday, October 12."

Despite the significance of this matter, a staggering 96% of websites do not utilize a countdown format for presenting the cutoff time.

4. Limited Shipping Options

A customer-centric shipping strategy focuses on convenience and choice. Offering a diverse array of shipping options, complemented by transparent and comprehensive information about their costs and benefits, plays a fundamental role in ensuring customers make well-informed decisions.

When customers contemplate shipping and delivery, personal considerations often go into the mix, with speed and cost-effectiveness at the forefront. This is why merchants should go above and beyond to empower their customers to weigh these factors in alignment with their unique preferences and priorities.

For some, the urgency of receiving a product may warrant paying a premium for expedited shipping. Conversely, others may find it more economical to opt for standard delivery, especially if the product's immediacy is not a pressing concern.

Moreover, an additional option that merchants can explore is the provision of in-store pickup. This alternative offers customers a convenient means to save both costs and time. But again, sufficient details should be given to users to evaluate their options and make an informed choice. This includes information such as the cost savings compared to the least expensive shipping alternatives and the distance they would need to travel.

5. Not Presenting the Options in the right place

To further emphasize our earlier point regarding delivery and fulfillment options, it’s crucial to highlight key insights from Baymard's UX Testing research that underscore the significance of presenting these options in the right place and at the right time.

Baymard's research benchmarks reveal a concerning trend where 50% of websites do not incorporate all available fulfillment options within the dedicated fulfillment-selection interface. Instead, these options are often confined to product pages or the shopping cart. This approach can lead to a detrimental outcome, where some users prematurely abandon the checkout process under the false assumption that their preferred fulfillment method is unavailable. In reality, it's a matter of these options not being presented in a user-friendly location.

Compelling users who decide to modify their fulfillment preferences during the fulfillment-selection step to navigate back to an earlier stage of checkout can be both inconvenient and potentially disorienting. Presenting all fulfillment options clearly and conveniently within the dedicated fulfillment-selection interface is key. Such an approach not only simplifies the user journey but also reduces abandonment rates, ultimately enhancing the overall user experience.

Enhancing the user experience to be best-in-class doesn't always demand a comprehensive UX redesign. Even small refinements can make a substantial difference in reducing cart abandonment, elevating customer satisfaction, and strengthening overall brand loyalty. Your approach should always be rooted in both customer-centricity and data-driven insights.

As a dedicated Shopify Plus Partner and CRO Agency, Avex excels in converting business challenges into measurable, concrete outcomes through a deep understanding of customer behaviors and preferences. Our primary emphasis lies in discovering hidden growth opportunities on Shopify Plus and fostering long-lasting business expansion. Reach out to us today, and allow our team of CRO specialists to lead the way for you.

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