How to Enhance eCommerce Delivery Date Estimates

Discover how to enhance eCommerce delivery date estimates to boost conversion and reduce customer support tickets

Joseph Thurston
Published on:
June 6, 2024
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As eCommerce becomes increasingly ubiquitous, online shoppers expect not only faster, but also more precise delivery windows. In fact, Shipup research has found that 57% of online shoppers prefer an accurate estimated delivery date over fast shipping. But wait – there’s more.

Online consumers will often organize entire days around their all-important deliveries, adjusting plans with family and friends to be at home for orders that require a signature. With more employees returning to offices full-time than those working in a hybrid setup, employees now have even less flexibility around being at home for such deliveries. Not to mention that for larger items such as furniture, shoppers may spend valuable time rearranging their space to accommodate the delivery.

And then – the delivery doesn’t arrive on time. All that effort, organization and anticipation, for nothing. The sacred bond between customer and online retailer broken, for the next purchase the shopper will take their business to another online retailer that respects their time.

What is an eCommerce delivery date estimate?

An eCommerce estimated delivery date is a date by which an online retailer predicts a package will be delivered. Delivery can occur at a variety of locations, including

  • Home address (you probably already know this one)
  • Workplace
  • Pickup point: these can be your standard Post Offices or dedicated pickup locations. 

A few types of eCommerce estimated delivery dates estimates exist. These include:

  • Exact date: ‘July 26th, 2024’ 
  • Hourly range, or time slots: ‘between 12 - 2 PM’, or ‘before 12 PM’ on July 26th, 2024’
  • Date range: ‘Between 26th - 27th July’ 
  • Shipping speed: ’Ships in 2 days’ (we HIGHLY advise against this one - read on to see why)

How are eCommerce delivery date estimates calculated?

eCommerce estimated delivery dates are calculated using a combination of historical data, real-time information and predictive analytics.

To gain in accuracy with regards to estimates, retailers have been increasingly leveraging solutions that incorporate Google’s AI algorithms - such as Shipup SDE (Smart Delivery Estimate). 

Google AI predicts order delivery estimates primarily by leveraging machine learning models that analyze historical data with regards to:

  • shipping times
  • order processing speeds
  • route information. 

These models take into account various factors such as the:

  • origin and destination of the package
  • current and historical shipping speeds of carriers

By integrating these diverse data points, the AI can forecast delivery times with increasing accuracy.

The system also incorporates updates from shipping partners and carriers, continually refining its predictions based on the latest available data. 

Online retailers are increasingly opting for solutions that leverage Google AI to increase delivery date estimate accuracy

Let’s take a concrete example: if a carrier updates their expected delivery times or if there are unforeseen delays, such as a hold-up in customs for international shipping, Google's AI can adjust its predictions to reflect these changes, ensuring the estimates remain as accurate as possible. But it doesn’t stop there.

In order to continuously improve delivery accuracy, Google AI’s algorithms use a combination of: 

  • Feedback 
  • Delivery outcomes. 

To ensure even more precise delivery estimates for each country, online retailers should rely on several algorithms, rather than one, split into different categories. 

  • One for international delivery (country of departure and arrival are different)
  • One for France-to-France delivery
  • One for USA-to-USA delivery
  • One for all other domestic delivery (country of departure = country of delivery, but not USA nor France)

Finally, and this is a game-changer, eCommerce delivery date estimates are increasingly taking into consideration warehouse opening and closing days.

To give you a few examples, when having their delivery date estimates calculated, merchants are now able to take into consideration:

  • bank holidays, even on weekdays
  • Saturdays worked during eCommerce season
Delivery accuracy can be improved by taking into consideration warehouse opening and closing days

By calculating the delivery estimate based on warehouse opening and closing days, online retailers are able to provide their customers with even more accurate order delivery date estimates.

eCommerce delivery date estimates best practices

1. Ensure Transparent Delivery Date Estimates

Many eCommerce orders are placed with a specific delivery date in mind: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s & Father’s Day, or events such as a birthday or anniversary. In these cases especially, it is pivotal that you provide transparent delivery estimates directly on your product, cart and checkout pages. For customers, displaying this delivery estimate will make or break the decision to purchase – after all, what good a late anniversary gift? In these instances, the value of the purchase is tied to the event itself just as much as the product.
Remember: online shopping is personal. By providing transparent delivery estimates, you show your customers that you respect these important life events.

“Remember, online shopping is personal’

So, how can you ensure transparent delivery estimates? First and foremost, whether it be on product, cart or checkout pages, display an estimated delivery estimate as a date, NOT a shipping speed. Research shows that 41% of online retailers still only include shipping speed - *sigh*.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: you’re frantically looking for a last-minute gift for your loved one - the last thing you want to do is calculate when it will arrive, taking into account X bank holiday, plus Y weekend. Keep it simple: display the date or date ranges loud and clear on your pages.

To ensure your delivery date estimate is optimized on your pages, we recommend that you:

  • place the delivery estimate near a prominent button, such as 'Add to Cart': the proximity between the two will boost conversion when the shoppers read this information
  • include the delivery estimate below the ‘Buy now’ button, rather than above: this will create a clear visual distinction between the product description and the delivery estimate
  • highlight the expected delivery date in bold or in a different colour 
  • display shipping options directly on the product page.
HealthTech e-tailer Withings displays delivery date estimates directly on its product pages

What are the benefits of transparent delivery date estimates?

  • Customers are significantly more likely to purchase from your eCommerce website with transparent delivery date estimates: Micromania, France’s largest gaming e-tailer, saw a 12% increase in conversion thanks to accurate delivery date estimate.
  • With customers informed about delivery time from the get-go, transparent delivery estimates will help reduce customer the number of customer support tickets.  

2. Provide Delivery Date Estimate Ranges  

Our research has found that 57% of online shoppers prefer an accurate delivery estimate over a quick delivery. Yes, you read that correctly – for standard deliveries in particular, it’s far more important that you keep your word regarding delivery times, rather than risk overpromising to your customers.

And in order to provide accurate delivery estimates, it’s essential that you display a delivery date range on your product, cart and checkout pages:

  • Standard deliveries: 2-day range: Show a 2-day delivery range instead of a fixed date
  • Express deliveries: Display a D+1 or D+0 estimated delivery date

A 2-day range for standard deliveries is optimal to avoid frustrated customers wondering where their parcel is.

Shipup's Smart Delivery Estimate (SDE) allows merchants to set up delivery date estimate ranges

Over half of consumers say the stage after purchase is the most emotional part of the shopping experience, with customers eagerly anticipating their order. You owe it to them to offer a sincere delivery estimate.

It’s more important that you keep your word regarding delivery times, rather than risk overpromising to your customers.”

Beyond respecting their emotions, accurate delivery estimates show that you respect customers’ time: an inaccurate delivery that needs to be rescheduled may be even more painful as the customer stayed at home to receive the delivery, or canceled important plans.

What are the benefits of delivery date ranges?

With accurate delivery estimates, you will:

- increase repurchase by inspiring consumer confidence.

- but beyond that, you will forge a deeper trusting relationship with customers that will increase your Customer Lifetime Value.

3. Create a sense of urgency with a countdown timer

As we’ve seen above, the stage after purchase is a highly stressful time for customers.

There is a lot of stake, and customer can quickly feel powerless staring into the unknown of their screen: will my order arrive on time for that big event? Will its arrival be impacted by that bank holiday this week? Will its origin country affect delivery?

A lot of questions run through their head, and it’s your duty to give them answers.

"A countdown timer helps your customers regain a sense of control"

To help your customers regain a feeling of control, we highly recommend including a countdown timer directly on your cart, product and checkout pages. This feeling of control is combined with a sense of urgency: suddenly, they feel locked into a decision-making process, faced with the necessity to make a purchase in order to receive their order by their desired date.

Here are some tips to best optimize the countdown timer linked to your estimated delivery date:

  • Maintain a consistent design that matches your website’s overall aesthetic. Use contrasting colours to make the timer stand out without clashing with the rest of the design. 
  • Ensure the countdown timer updates in real-time without requiring the page to refresh. This provides a seamless user experience and keeps the urgency factor alive.
  • Adjust your countdown timer in function of your warehouse and carriers' cutoff times, for example in Peak eCommerce Season.
  • Accompany the timer with clear and concise messaging about what will happen when the timer expires (e.g., “Order by [time] to receive by [date]”). This helps manage customer expectations.

eCommerce estimated delivery date benefits

Optimizing your estimated delivery dates has a variety of benefits impacting your online business as a whole, whether it be with regards to growth, customer experience or customer support.

4 estimated delivery date benefits:

  • Growth: Increase conversion from your eCommerce website with transparent delivery date estimates: Micromania, France’s largest gaming e-tailer, saw a 20% increase in conversion thanks to accurate delivery date estimate
  • Growth: Increase repurchase by inspiring consumer confidence
  • Customer Experience: Forge a deeper, trusting relationship with customers that will Increase your Customer Lifetime Value.
  • Customer support: Reduces the number of customer support tickets related to order status with accurate delivery estimate, thereby lowering the cost of customer support teams

Now that you’re up to scratch on what delivery estimates are, how to optimize them and what advantages they can bring your eCommerce, let’s put all that into practice with our latest product: Smart Delivery Estimate.

Discover Smart Delivery Estimate