Shippers and delivery companies have been preparing all year for this – the busy and exciting holiday season, and this year, it’s poised to be the largest. According to Deloitte’s 2019 retail survey, holiday sales will increase 4.5-5% this year, with e-commerce expected to grow 14-18% over 2018.

So, what should retailers focus on this season as they look to the industry’s future? LaserShip, the largest regional parcel carrier in the US, conducted an E-Commerce Shipping Needs Survey
with Hanover Research this year to identify insights into shopping and behavior patterns, with a focus on Generation Z and Millennials. We found that expectations vary by generation, and as we look to Generation Z and Millennials – whose buying power is rapidly increasing – there is an opportunity for shippers to stay ahead of the curve.

Convenience Is King
This year, Generation Z and Millennials will represent 32% and 31.5 % of the US population, respectively, surpassing Baby Boomers. In recent years, there has been a behavioral shift that has increased the value of experience and convenience, and younger generations are willing to pay for it.

This concept also applies to online shopping and how shipping choices impact buying decisions. Our survey found shipping speed, delivery cost, and return cost to be among the most important considerations for all online shoppers, and even more vital for younger shoppers. This holiday season, shippers must pay attention to these three expectations of the next generation of shoppers:

Fast: Shoppers want their merchandise quickly, and younger generations are willing to pay for speed. A third of respondents rank fast delivery as the most important consideration when shopping online, and 63% expect items to be delivered within three days. As the younger generations grow in buying power, and holiday shoppers expect more last-minute options, shippers must offer fast options.

Free: Half of shoppers surveyed have abandoned a shopping cart due to high shipping fees, and the top reason consumers stop buying from an e-retailer is because of high shipping costs. After fast delivery, free or discounted shipping is the second most important consideration for shoppers. This data is supported by Deloitte’s survey, which found consumers prefer free over fast shipping. Therefore, to attract and retain customers, shippers must always provide a free shipping option.

3. Returns: Three quarters of respondents look for free returns when choosing where to shop. However, despite the importance consumers place on free returns, nearly half of all retailers charge for returns. Retailers cannot ignore what consumers are telling them about fast and low-cost delivery and returns. As the volume of younger generations in the market increases, retailers need to stay ahead of the curve with fast and free returns.

The next generation of consumers have higher expectations when it comes to the speed, cost, and convenience of online shopping and delivery. Shippers must continue to evolve to stay relevant with this growing audience segment. For more details on our E-Commerce Shipping Needs Survey, download the LaserShip white paper here.

Josh Dinneen is Senior Vice President of Commercial Development at LaserShip. Contact him at