The rush of anticipation after online-ordering an item you’ve been eyeing for a while; there’s nothing quite like it. And, though, waiting for the physical package to arrive can be excruciating, the excitement when Fedex, UPS or Canada Post finally knocks on the door almost makes you forget everything that’s going wrong in your life. Luckily, since Amazon Prime launched, people no longer have to wait weeks for their packages to be delivered—it’s (nearly) every shopper’s dream.
Seeing the success of Prime, many retailers have followed in Amazon’s footsteps. In Toronto, Nordstrom offers free two-day shipping on select items, while Canada Goose extends next-day shipping to those who have to, just have to, don their new winter coat ASAP. And, just this year (in time for the holiday season), brands like The Body Shop and Sephora are offering same-day delivery, too.
The idea certainly is enticing. It’s super convenient, especially for last-minute shoppers; according to a survey by Deloitte in 2018, “More than 70 per cent of consumers cite convenience and free shipping as their top reasons to shop on- line.” The pandemic only enhanced these preferences, and made rush delivery even more of a must. According to PwC’s June Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, “Forty-one per cent of consumers are willing to pay a charge for same-day delivery, while almost a quarter of shoppers said they would pay more to receive packages within a one-or two-hour window of their choosing.” It’s fast becoming the norm to expect packages to show up tout suite.
“Retailers make decisions based on customer demand. We’re at the point where customers are so accustomed to same-day, or almost immediate, deliveries that other retailers have to offer that same level of service just to compete,” says Ashley Barby, founder of FashionTech. That’s likely the reason The Body Shop partnered with Instacart: to keep up with customer demand and reach new customers.
The brand recognized the shift in consumer buying behaviour, especially because standard and expedited e-commerce shipping options were popular among shoppers before same-day delivery was an option. The Body Shop’s vice-president, marketing and responsibility for North America, Hilary Lloyd, says, “Instacart, and same-day delivery, provide the instant gratification that customers in a hurry may be looking for, especially after our e-commerce holiday shipping cut-off deadlines approach for last-minute shoppers.” She adds that the retailer is already seeing positive results.
Barby mentions that same-day delivery allows customers to indulge in impulse window shopping or when you go to the mall. Now I think there’s that inclination to do a little bit more impulse shopping [online] when you know you can get something the same day.”
Impulse shopping could lead to discovering something amazing—or something you’ll use only once (or even regret purchasing). As we all know, increasing overconsumption of this nature carries with it an environmental impact. Not only can it lead to unwanted items being tossed out, founder of Fashion Takes Action Kelly Drennan says that same- day delivery can force the retail industry to make products faster—and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
“The industry makes the items faster and they make more … because the material and labour are cheaper. Then
we buy faster or we buy more because of how cheap it is. So the entire experience becomes faster, which naturally leads to us wanting to wear it as quickly as possible—in some cases before the trend is over, which can result in a garment being worn less than five times before it is disposed of.”
The implication: the convenience of same-day delivery could affect people’s willingness to shop sustainably. Drennan shares that research has proven that many people want to shop with Mother Nature in mind, but don’t, and speedy delivery times may not be helping the cause.
“People are still motivated by price and now it seems convenient as well,” she says. “So if you are in a pinch and need a gift ASAP, you are more likely to buy something that was not made sustainably. What matters most is getting it on time.” —Mursal Rahman