Canadian Consumer Expectations for ‘Fast’ Ecomm Deliveries Not What Many Expected [Report/Interview]

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According to a new survey, Canadian shoppers believe the average definition of a fast delivery—for all online orders except food and beverage—is almost four days. 

“That’s a very different definition of “fast” than (ahem) certain logistics giants would have you believe,” said the report by Pitney Bowes.

Vijay Ramachandran, VP Market Strategy, Global Ecommerce at Pitney Bowes, said for Canadian consumers, especially since the start of the pandemic, there’s been an accelerated adoption of e-commerce.

Vijay Ramachandran

“I would say more so than the US in terms of the percentage jump in adoption since the start and what we’re finding is that those behaviours are still pretty sticky, especially around expectations,” he said. “So it’s not your 2019 version of e-commerce. It is a very different set of expectations.

“It used to be that consumers would shop for the best prices and the fastest delivery online. That’s really how Amazon built the value proposition. Tremendous selection, find a lower price, get it in two days. We’re finding since the start of the pandemic expectations have shifted away from ‘I need it today because I can go to the plaza and go get it today if I needed it today’ now that restrictions are starting to loosen up. It’s really ‘I want to find the product that I can’t find anywhere else locally around me. That’s why I want to go shop online’. Or ‘I’m not in a hurry and going out to the store to buy something is a bit of a hassle’ . . . So we’re finding that the convenience of online is now defined not as fast but as easy.”

Ramachandran said that’s a fundamentally different view of e-commerce than it was before. 

The report also found that the ability to track an item purchased online is becoming more important. The average Canadian consumer reports checking delivery tracking an average of 3.2 times per order – generally in line with the average U.S. consumer, who when polled the same week, reported checking tracking an average of 3.1 times per order. In Canada, younger consumers, 18 to 34 years old, are checking 4.5 times per order.

Ramachandran said the tracking aspect of online shopping is different today than it was a couple of years ago.

“It used to be consumers were not tracking all that often because they would order for the most part off of Amazon, they weren’t buying a lot, as much as they were, but as online buying has increased so has the need for accurate tracking,” he said. 

“It’s the number one e-commerce experience that consumers would like to see more of. More accurate estimated delivery date in Canada. In fact, one out of four Canadians has experienced a delayed delivery in just the last six months. That’s one out of four purchases. And one-third of Canadians are saying that delivery delays are happening more often now in the last six months than they’ve seen before. 

Source: Pitney Bowes BOXpoll Created with Datawrapper

“That’s quite a few. So you can see why tracking has become so important because with delivery delays you really want to understand where your package is and now that we’re getting out of the house more often you don’t want that package sitting on your front doorstep or in the mailroom longer than necessary. If you’re not home and it arrives early or late, it’s very, very inconvenient. It could be stolen because it wasn’t attended to right away.”

The research also found that less than two-thirds of Canadian consumers are happy with domestic product selection. Auto parts, jewelry, sporting goods, and pet supplies are the categories where consumers were the least satisfied, presenting opportunities for new and expanding brands to sell to Canadian consumers. 

Also, most Canadians (54 per cent) and almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of Atlantic Canada residents believe three-day shipping on a Friday order means their package should come on Wednesday. These consumers assume only business days, giving retailers more leeway for processing/transit time. When it surveyed U.S. consumers on the same question, most (61 per cent) expected a Monday or Tuesday delivery, revealing that most  US consumers think in “postal days”—counting Saturday but not Sunday. 

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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