It is the biggest and boldest line in the retailing world, FREE SHIPPING. If you didn’t think so already, all of this free shipping being offered is creating a huge impact on trucking – and not in a good way especially when the heavier goods are involved. Unfortunately for truckers, that is not going to stop anytime soon, in a report from Accenture, not only will the ecommerce demand for “free delivery” keep increasing, more time-specific services (like 2-day shipping) will keep coming to keep the loyalty of customers.

Accenture did a study on parcel delivery organizations and how they can keep up with today’s demands. They created a survey of 1,124 small to medium sized businesses across 10 countries and continents. They found that delivery impacts all stages of a consumer’s buying process, increasing the pressure of retailers to provide a seamless online process to purchase and return products. They noted that 66% of online consumer chose a retailer based on the number of delivery options, with 76% looking at the return policy before committing to an order. Companies are now creating their own delivery networks to try to keep up with their demands. Accenture found that there are five areas delivery companies need to focus on to stay in the game with the changing ecommerce market:

  • Keep customers happy with more services: Respondents said that easy and affordable return services with full tracking ability are the most important features. In order to keep up with that, delivery companies need to stay on top of the game
  • Offer more return options: Consumers want better return options and would shop more with an online retailer that made returns easy. This is one of the most important elements when evaluating a delivery provider.
  • Shipping prices: The top reason online retailers stay with one transportation provider is to consolidate volume to secure the best price discounts.
  • Stay with demand increase: Larger retailers are more interested in services like warehousing and fulfillment or purchases then smaller businesses. Basic delivery services are sufficient for smaller businesses, bigger features will be needed as they grow. Delivery companies need to be able to adapt to those changing needs.
  • Cross-border shipments: Delivery companies need to customize their offerings for cross-border and B2C ecommerce including predictable delivery dates and costs. Providers that ensure seamless and reliable international delivery services will quickly become the primary preferred provider that online retailers seek.

Whether trucking firms like the idea of free shipping services, there seems to be a large field in provider opportunities. 26% of respondents to Accenture’s survey said they use at least 3 parcel providers to ensure the best prices and drop the risk of lost packages or delayed delivery that could result from relying on a single provider.

The question is, can truckers make enough money handling such cargoes with the huge free shipping label? Will they be able to keep up with demand and keep their employees invested? This is something that can only be answered through time, but flexibility is key. If parcel companies are willing to work with online retailers cohesively, the market should stay successful and trucking should keep up with revenue.