People Would Rather Wait Than Pay for Packages

Americans and Canadians alike love free shipping when buying items online. But when they’re paying the freight, both prefer to wait a few days longer to receive their packages than to shell out higher shipping fees.

Asked what was the crucial factor in deciding to make an online purchase, 76% of Canadians and 63% of Americans said shipping cost was “very important,” while only 22 and 23%, respectively, named speed of delivery as the key motivator. The findings were obtained via phone surveys conducted with nationally representative samples of Americans and Canadians by the Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research on behalf of Purolator International.

Cash savings proved more important than time savings even during the holidays. While 43% of Americans said they had not purchased an item during the holiday season because it would not be delivered in time, a greater number (49%) said they declined to push the buy button because of high shipping costs. The price of freight posed an even greater hindrance to Canadians. Almost two thirds of them (63%) said they’d negated a purchase because of it, while only about half (53%) did so due to timing concerns.

“Even in this age of ‘I want it now,’ when consumers balance cost versus convenience, they most often fall on the side of cost,” says John Costanzo, president of Purolator International. Purolator is the leading provider of cross-border logistics between the U.S. and Canada, and Costanzo estimates that $300 billion in goods are imported into Canada from the U.S. on an annual basis.

The bi-national study pointed up some differences in shopping habits and motivations among the North American neighbors. Canadians, for instance, are much less likely to turn to the Web for holiday purchases than Americans. Forty-two percent of consumers in the northernmost country said they made fewer than a quarter of their Christmas purchases online, while only 28% of people in the States put themselves in that category.

About two thirds of the residents of each nation said that free shipping played a big role in deciding where they bought their goods online. Absent that option, it was Canadian pennies that were harder for Internet retailers to pry loose. Forty-four percent of Canadians said shipping cost was the single most important factor in their purchase decisions versus only 32% of Americans.

Asked what delivery speed they picked most often for online purchases, four to five days was the most popular choice of U.S. citizens, named by nearly a third. But five days or more was far and away the leading choice in the Great White North, selected by 46%.

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