Shipping Perks: The Way to Shoppers' Hearts - and Wallets

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By Krystal Steinmetz

It's only September, but the holiday shopping season has already begun.

Many retailers have already decorated their stores and unboxed items for Christmas gifts.

So where are Americans planning to shop this holiday season? A survey from Pitney Bowes found that most Americans plan to do their holiday shopping both in-store and online. Although big holiday sales are typically an effective way to drum up business, online retailers who want to lure customers to shop in their stores could also benefit from expanding their shipping options.

According to the survey, a variety of shipping alternatives is the best way to shoppers' hearts and wallets.

"Options are no longer a privilege during the shopping experience. This holiday season consumers will expect the ability to choose their preference," Christoph Stehmann, chief operating officer of Pitney Bowe's digital commerce solutions, said in a statement. "Retailers must focus on offering diverse options -- whether for shopping channel, shipping and return methods or even promotional offers -- in order to attract consumers throughout their shopping experiences."

More than 93 percent of consumers -- a 23 percent increase from 2014 -- said that the availability of shipping options is an important factor in their overall shopping experience.

The survey found that consumers are willing to give up quicker shipping or increase their spending in order to qualify for free shipping. In the survey, 3 out of 5 respondents said they would buy more things to meet the free shipping threshold, and 68 percent of shoppers said they would use a coupon or promotional code to get a shipping discount.

Looking for some more green this holiday season? Check out "11 Easy Ways to Raise Holiday Shopping Cash."

I hate paying shipping fees. It's one of the reasons that I love Amazon Prime. Sure, I pay an annual fee so I can get free two-day shipping, but with as many items as I order, I still come out ahead.

How important are shipping options to you when making an online purchase? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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