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People shop online for convenience — which means they’re also looking for convenient delivery options. In the age of Amazon Prime, today’s consumers expect 2-day shipping everywhere they shop online. In fact:
- 73% of consumers view fast delivery as critical online shopping criteria (a 16% increase from 2020)
- 85% of shoppers are more likely to buy when 2-day delivery is offered.
- 46% of consumers value fast delivery more since the pandemic.
Failing to meet these expectations can result in lost business and a negative brand perception. In 2021 alone, slow delivery caused 64% of consumers to forgo trying a new retailer, and 54% to switch retailers.
And yet, not all sellers use 2-day shipping in their ecommerce strategy. But why not?
Often, it seems too intimidating to even try and compete with giant retailers. Between the logistics costs, obstacles, and general smaller volume, it may seem insurmountable for small to medium size ecommerce companies to meet the same 2-day, next-day, or even same-day standard delivery standard that behemoths can achieve.
Luckily for small to mid-sized up-and-coming brands, affordable 2-day shipping is attainable. Read this guide to find out how!
What is 2-day shipping?
2-day shipping is the process of sending packages from the shipping carrier to the recipient’s doorstep within 2 days. In ecommerce, offering 2-day shipping is a common practice for sellers to ensure online orders are delivered to end consumers with a quick turnaround.
How does 2-day shipping work?
2-day shipping starts as soon as a carrier has the order in its possession. During those two days in transit, packages may be handed off several times. There are two primary methods that enable delivery in 2 days: air shipping and ground shipping.
Air cargo is used to send packages to faraway destinations quickly. With air shipping, packages are shipped via airplanes. While it is much more expensive than other modes of transportation, air shipping may be the only shipping method that can guarantee a 2-day turnaround, even for packages being shipped from overseas or the other side of the country.
Ground shipping uses trucks to transport packages and costs less than air shipping. Orders that use ground shipping for a 2-day turnaround are typically traveling a shorter distance. The exact number of days in transit is determined by the point of origin as well as the shipping destination.
Merchants that offer 2-day shipping via a ground network typically ship orders from fulfillment centers or warehouses in different regions to cover more ground.
With nearly half of shoppers in the US having abandoned an order because delivery was too expensive, ground shipping can help keep 2-day shipping costs low.
Benefits of 2-day shipping
Here are a few of the top advantages of offering 2-day shipping on an ecommerce website.
1. Meet customer expectations
Consumers today want fast shipping, and the definition of fast shipping for online orders is ever-changing. As of 2022, 60% of global consumers expect same-, next-, or two-day delivery — and if you can’t get your customers’ orders to them that quickly, they may turn to competitors who can.
Offering guaranteed 2-day shipping (or at least transit times that won’t be seen as “too long” in their eyes) fosters a positive customer experience. In turn, this can lead to better customer reviews and recommendations.
2. Reduce cart abandonment & increase conversion
There are many factors that play into why a shopper makes it all the way to the checkout page and then exits before making their purchase. Two of the top causes of cart abandonment are high shipping costs and slow delivery speeds.
Offering a lower-cost expedited delivery option can help prevent some people from abandoning their cart. As long as it hits the right balance of healthy margins and profitability for you, it will appeal to your budget-minded customers.
Clearly communicating the estimated delivery date to customers can also boost conversion. Showcasing 2-day badging on product pages and pre-checkout encourages customers to factor quick delivery into their decision, and can help you increase conversions.
2-day badging is particularly helpful when selling on online marketplaces like Walmart.com, Amazon, or Etsy, as it can distinguish your listings from your competitors’.
“We were excited to roll out 2-day shipping options for our customers so that we could keep up with Amazon, but found that not as many as we expected were taking advantage of this offer.
We worked with ShipBob and introduced a Prime-like badge showcasing 2-day shipping on our product pages and immediately saw a 230% increase in customers using 2-day shipping! Because of the badge, customers know how fast they can get a product — even before they add it to their cart — and we love that.
I really, deeply appreciate the way ShipBob listens to our feedback and genuinely learns about merchants’ needs. They work quickly to deliver solutions that save us hours each week. ShipBob has done so much to help us.”
Larissa Jeanniton, Operations at The Wrap Life
3. Keep customers coming back
When customers get their order quickly and on-time, they may be more likely to purchase from you again in the future. Encouraging repeat purchases by promoting your fast and affordable shipping options in your marketing is key to customer retention.
Offering 2-day shipping on your website also means that you’ll have customers’ information and email addresses, so you can build customer loyalty and remarket to them in the future.
How to execute 2-day shipping
There are several ways that online sellers can provide 2-day shipping. Here are the most common methods ecommerce merchants use.
DIY: going to the post office or carriers’ locations
When you handle ecommerce fulfillment in-house, you’ll probably make frequent trips to the post office or to your local or preferred shipping carrier. If you offer expedited shipping to customers who shop on your online store, you can select the appropriate service such as USPS 2-day shipping, FedEx 2-day shipping, UPS 2-day shipping, or the equivalent.
Of course, domestic 2-day shipping will be priced differently from expedited international shipping.
If your company is big enough to manage warehousing operations alone, you may have a shipping carrier come to your facility to pick up packages. This can include 2-day shipping if it’s a service you’ve negotiated, and a shipping option you offer to customers.
Outsourced: partnering with a 3PL
Partnering with a third-party logistics service provider, or 3PL, is common for ecommerce merchants looking to offer 2-day shipping with less legwork.
Many 3PLs enable ecommerce companies to offer 2-day shipping to their customers. With a 3PL, online merchants send their inventory to the 3PL’s fulfillment center(s), and the 3PL will pick and pack your orders before handing them off to a shipping carrier.
3PLs have access to infrastructure and technology that can reduce shipping costs for their customers, making them a great choice for scaling ecommerce brands. Some 3PLs can even negotiate special bulk discounts with popular shipping carriers to secure even better rates.
2-day shipping for online marketplaces
If you sell your products on a marketplace, you may have certain requirements for fulfilling — and shipping — those orders. Meeting 2-day shipping requirements on marketplaces adds an extra layer of complexity, as retailers must meet both the marketplace’s rules and customers’ expectations.
Merchants selling on Walmart.com can achieve 2-day shipping through Walmart TwoDay program, or by outsourcing fulfillment and shipping to logistics providers like ShipBob that provide 2-day shipping across 100% of the US and integrate directly with Walmart Marketplace.
With the right fulfillment and shipping solution in place, you can also add 2-Day delivery badging on Walmart.com. 2-day bading is proven to catch shoppers’ attention, and results in higher search rankings and as much as a 50% lift in conversion for badged products.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service for merchants that sell on Amazon. FBA is one way to be a part of the Amazon Prime program for sellers to offer guaranteed two-day shipping to customers who buy their products on Amazon.com. Amazon even gives customers an option to upgrade to one-day shipping for a small extra fee.
Unlike Amazon’s Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) program, where the seller is responsible for shipping orders in two days, FBA is handled by Amazon within their fulfillment centers.
While Amazon Prime shipping is one of the most well-known options when it comes to 2-day, it is exclusively for orders placed on the Amazon marketplace. FBA also incurs seller fees, meaning that merchants often take home less profit on each sale than they would by selling on their own website.
Sellers also lose the ability to highlight their brand when they ship via FBA. The entire customer experience and communication takes place via Amazon, and all packages are sent in Amazon-branded boxes, meaning sellers miss out on the ability to highlight their brand when shipping with FBA.
“We currently use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) for our Amazon orders, but there are limitations. We want to offer a custom experience for our customers and we can’t do that at a reasonable cost with Amazon. It’s difficult to have remarketing capabilities; There’s less flexibility, and everything has to be pre-packaged and pre-kitted.
The flexibility to offer various combinations of products to our customers that we don’t get on Amazon has been really beneficial through ShipBob. This way, our customers can get various combinations of our products that best fit into their lifestyle.
ShipBob has also worked with us to develop technical capabilities so we can have any combination of our product offerings placed into our variously sized custom branded boxes.”
Pablo Gabatto, Business Operations Manager at Ample Foods
The price of 2-day shipping
While offering 2-day shipping can help ecommerce sellers capture more demand, not all sellers can afford to offer it. Here are some pricing considerations to help you decide if 2-day shipping is financially viable for your business.
How much does 2-day shipping cost?
The cost of 2-day shipping can vary drastically, as rates are based on a combination of the following factors:
- Carrier and service used
- Point of origin
- Destination shipping zone
- Dimensional weight and package characteristics
- Date and time you are shipping
- Peak period
- Type of products you are shipping
Shipping carriers often offer bulk discounts to companies with high shipment volumes. 3PLs can then pass these discounts onto their clients, which can, in turn, lower two-day shipping costs for end customers.
That said, how much one seller charges customers for 2-day shipping can vary. Similarly, the cost of 2-day shipping for the same item on two different sales channels may be different based on the fulfillment costs and fees involved with different channels.
For example, ordering an item with 2-day shipping from a marketplace can cost more or less than ordering that same item with 2-day shipping directly from the ecommerce brand’s website.
What about free 2-day shipping?
Free shipping is one of the biggest draws when it comes to completing a purchase online.
However, offering free 2-day shipping is not financially feasible for everyone. To stay profitable, it has to make sense for your margins.
For example, unless you sell very expensive products, offering sitewide free shipping will cost you a lot of money — especially if you are offering expedited 2-day air shipping rather than ground shipping. And although free 2-day shipping is a huge conversion driver, the uptick in conversions may not be enough to offset your increased shipping costs.
That said, there are ways to offer free 2-day shipping; all you need is the right strategy.
“We can offer 2-day shipping across the US thanks to ShipBob’s fulfillment center network and be consistent with our most important service levels: receiving times, fulfillment cutoffs, and shipping speeds.”
Nathan Garrison, Co-Founder and CEO of Sharkbanz
How to keep 2-day shipping costs low
If you can reduce the cost of 2-day shipping for your business, you can absorb that expense and provide the quick shipping customers want without breaking your bank. Here are the secrets used by top ecommerce companies to keep 2-day shipping costs down.
Use ground shipping and ship from urban fulfillment centers
Ground shipping is far less expensive than air shipping. If your business is able to fulfill orders at a location that is geographically close to common order destinations, you can deliver those used using ground shipping and still meet the 2-day deadline.
Since the majority of the US population lives in cities or metropolitan areas, orders are more likely to originate from those locations. Therefore, using fulfillment centers in or near large cities will put your inventory closer to more customers, and facilitate 2-day ground delivery.
Distribute inventory strategically to cut shipping time and cost
If you’re shipping from a single fulfillment center, only the customers who live near there are eligible for affordable 2-day shipping. Ground shipping won’t get orders to faraway customers in two days, so expensive air shipping is the only option for them.
To make 2-day ground shipping possible for all customers, you’ll need to shorten the distance between customer and product. Since your customers aren’t moving closer to you, this means you must store your inventory closer to them.
By utilizing multiple strategically-located fulfillment centers across different regions of the US, your business can drastically shorten the distance packages must travel, and put more customers in the 2-day shipping range of ground coverage.
The maps below compare the use of one fulfillment center in the continental United States with three fulfillment centers.
Storing inventory in three different regions of the US reduces the average shipping zone you ship to in the US, which both shortens time in transit but also cuts shipping costs (since carriers charge by zones traveled). This makes cheap or even free 2-day shipping possible for many more customers.
“For us, changing from a 3 week lead time to 3 days through ShipBob is what drove our sales. Even now, one of the primary reviews we get on Etsy is, ‘My order arrived really quickly!’ Having the stock locally in the US means that lead times and shipping times are minimal, and that you’ll get higher conversion rates because you’re offering better lead times.”
John Greenhalgh, Co-Founder of A Year of Dates
Set a spend threshold to unlock free shipping
Even if you can’t afford to offer free 2-day shipping site-wide, you may be able to offer it on orders where the order value offsets the shipping cost.
Setting a spend threshold that is significantly greater than your current AOV lets your business absorb shipping costs when it makes sense to do so, while protecting your profit margin. Moreover, it encourages customers to spend more to qualify for better shipping, driving revenue without you having to spend more money on marketing.
Achieve affordable 2-day with ShipBob
It’s never been more important to offer customers convenient delivery options. Fortunately, you no longer have to be a trillion dollar business to provide 2-day shipping to your customers.
ShipBob is a global omnifulfillment platform that eagles ecommerce merchants of all sizes to secure fast, affordable 2-day shipping, and grow their brands in the process.
By partnering with ShipBob, brands not only outsource picking and packing, but also gain access to dozens of strategically-placed fulfillment centers across the US. Merchants can store their inventory and fulfill orders from any of those locations to minimize shipping distance, making cheaper (or even free) 2-day ground shipping possible for customers in any region.
“We love that ShipBob actually operates its fulfillment centers — they know their operations and they are very clear about it. ShipBob having multiple locations was also huge for us. Keeping our inventory in Chicago and Los Angeles has brought cost savings since we ship from the locations that are closest to the customer.”
Courtney Lee, founder of Prymal
Through ShipBob’s 2-Day Express Program, merchants can get 2-day shipping coverage across 100% of the continental US, even from just one fulfillment center, while allowing you to still own your brand, data, and entire customer experience.
You can also display 2-day shipping badges and estimated delivery dates on top ecommerce stores to further increase conversions and boost sales.
Hear from ShipBob BAKblade on how offering 2-Day Express Shipping Program has helped them:
Want to learn more?
If you’re interested in how your brand can leverage 2-day shipping, we’ve got you covered.
ShipBob created a 2-Day Express Shipping Guide to explain how to best utilize 2-day express shipping.
Download the guide for free and dive deep into:
- Save money on logistics
- Drive revenue with the right fulfillment strategy
- Reduce cart abandonment
- Gain lifelong customers
Ready to take advantage of 2-day shipping? Download the guide below!
If you’d rather talk to someone on ShipBob’s team, request a quote below and a fulfillment expert will get in contact with you.
2-day shipping FAQs
Check out these frequently asked questions about what 2-day shipping actually means.
Is 2-day shipping really 2 days?
The use of “2-day shipping” and “2-day delivery” can be confusing to consumers and merchants alike. Will an order be shipped from the seller within 2 days, or will it be on the customer’s doorstep within 2 days?
In many cases (like with Amazon Prime), the two days begin once the item is actually shipped from a fulfillment center. Before a package goes on a carrier’s truck to be shipped, the order must be picked, packed, labeled, and ready to go. Amazon won’t even charge your credit card until the package is ready to ship.
Depending on the time of day the customer makes a purchase, this could all be done the same day the order is placed online. For example, if a customer makes a purchase in the morning, it will likely ship the same day (or at the latest the next day). If the order is not processed the same day as it is ordered (i.e., if the order is placed late at night), it will likely be shipped out the following day, at which point the 2-day timer begins. It’s important to keep in mind that the customer might be based in a different time-zone than the fulfillment center.
In some cases, 2-day shipping actually means two business days. This means that if you place an order on a Friday night, you may not receive it until the following Tuesday.
If you need to ship a package yourself and go to the post office or UPS Store, using a 2-day shipping service will mean two days from when you drop it off.
In other contexts, shipping within two days may refer to the maximum amount of time the seller can take to get the order in the mail, and not to the time in transit.
When in doubt, review and instate a clear shipping policy and shipping options on your ecommerce website. If you work with a 3PL or an online marketplace, make sure you understand their definition of 2-day shipping and plan your policy accordingly.
What is the Amazon Prime Effect?
The ‘Amazon Prime Effect’ refers to the standard of 2-day shipping for purchases made online, as set by Amazon through their subscription Prime service. Because this has become the norm, shoppers expect all of their orders to be shipped in two days or less — regardless of the merchant or platform they order on or from.
The Amazon Effect has implications for merchants of all sizes and sales channels. Consumers want immediacy, and are no longer willing to wait for their deliveries.
As a result of the Amazon Effect, individual brands are pressured to offer 2-day shipping on their websites to compete.
Is 2-day shipping guaranteed?
2-day shipping is not always guaranteed, and will depend on the exact carrier, service, cutoff time, and days of operation, among other factors. While some delivery estimates are simply estimates, certain 2-day shipping programs are guaranteed or your money back.
Even when 2-day shipping is guaranteed, not everything always goes according to plan. Delays happen, packages are stolen or lost, bad weather conditions affect carriers, and other events transpire that prevent packages from arriving on customers’ doorsteps on time.
In addition to shipping guarantees for time in transit, if you work with a 3PL or logistics provider, they will have guaranteed service for orders to be fulfilled. For example, for all orders placed before noon local time, ShipBob’s fulfillment center will have the order picked, packed, and ready to be shipped that same day.