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Radial Survey Reveals How Retail Brands are Adapting to Consumer Expectations While Maintaining Profitability

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — Radial, Inc., a bpostgroup company, the leader in eCommerce solutions, releases findings from two new surveys conducted in collaboration with Industry Dive’s studioID. Survey results reveal that while retail executives often believe they have to offer free shipping and returns to entice customers, there are other ways to meet consumer expectations and establish loyalty that don’t sacrifice profitability. 

While 85% of retailers said they had adjusted their shipping options over the past 12 months to tame the free shipping mayhem, only 5% said they lost customers due to the policy. Even more reassuring, in a companion consumer-directed survey, only 2% of respondents said they would abandon a purchase if not offered free shipping. 

“These results underscore that brands don’t need to fear implementing a practical shipping policy”, notes Matt Barr, Vice President of Marketing and Product at Radial. “While free shipping might be an enticement during the introductory stages, the onus is on the brand to build the relationship and extend it to be a more consistent source of loyalty that goes beyond that inducement,” he says. “Retailers need to focus on providing points of value that aren’t just about the word ‘free.’”

The business-to-business survey tapped U.S. retail executives to gather their insights on how their brand is reacting to changing market conditions as they aim to stay competitive and optimize their profit margins. The consumer survey reached more than 1,000 regular ecommerce shoppers, to seek their priorities and opinions regarding shipping, returns and more. 

Four additional survey findings:

1. When faced with shipping choices, consumers prioritize price over pace.  

An overwhelming 70% of respondents chose a longer shipping time in exchange for a lower cost

2. Offering a return-to-store option can take the sting out of returns.  

Brands decry the proclivity of today’s “return-happy” consumer because of the hit to their bottom line

3. Consumers may claim they value sustainability, but that virtue often goes out the window when asked to absorb related costs.  

When asked if they were willing to pay a slightly higher shipping fee to cover more sustainable shipping practices only 15% of consumers said they were “very” likely to. However, eco-friendly packaging is top of mind for both groups

4. By outsourcing their fulfillment function, retailers reap a number of advantages, with a better customer service experience at the top, followed closely by access to modern fulfillment solutions, like automation and robotics. 

The complementary surveys helped validate many of the realities our customers have been experiencing in their ongoing quest to maintain profitability along with an exceptional customer experience,” explains Barr. “They know that free shipping and returns are unsustainable, yet they still aim to inject value into the fulfillment process. We’re able to help our clients address their key pain points and successfully balance the twin goals of consumer satisfaction and profitability.” 

Download the full research report and explore additional information and details about the survey results here. [link to full report.]

Survey Methodology

The survey, conducted by Industry Dive’s studioID in collaboration with Radial in August 2023, was taken by 150 retail leaders in the United States at companies with $10 million to $1 billion in annual revenue and 1,013 consumers, 18 and above, who regularly shop online. 



About studioID by Industry Dive

studioID is Industry Dive’s global content studio, offering brands an ROI-rich toolkit: deep industry expertise, first-party audience insights, an editorial approach to brand storytelling, and targeted distribution capabilities. Its trusted in-house content marketers help brands power insights-fueled content programs that nurture prospects and customers from discovery through to purchase, connecting brand to demand. Visit to learn more.

About Radial 

Radial is the industry’s largest 3PL provider that offers integrated payment, fraud detection, and omnichannel solutions to mid-market and enterprise brands. Leveraging over 30 years of industry expertise, Radial rejects the one-size-fits-all approach, instead tailoring its services and solutions to align strategically with each brand’s unique needs.

Our team supports brands in tackling common eCommerce challenges, from maintaining delivery consistency to ensuring secure transactions. With a commitment to fulfilling promises from click to delivery, Radial empowers brands to navigate the dynamic digital landscape with the confidence and capability to deliver a seamless, secure, and superior eCommerce experience.