Sir Dave Brailsford, the mastermind behind British Cycling, and Team Sky’s recent successes both in the Olympics, and the Tour de France, has famously adopted the approach of “marginal gains” for seeking improvements in his athletes. This process involves looking at every minute detail of his overall operation, and trying to seek improvements, no matter how small, in performance. The theory being that small changes all add up to a much greater overall improvement.

This theory should not be ignored by eCommerce retailers. We all pour over statistics, site visits, bounce rates, AOV, AOF, abandonment rates, and with big data, the process just got more complicated. So how can eCommerce retailers use the principle of marginal gains to increase conversions?

Offer Free Delivery

According to the Royal Mail, 66% of online shoppers claimed that free delivery was the most important factor in choosing which retailer to buy from. That’s a big percentage. If a product with the same price is available on your site with a delivery charge, and elsewhere without a delivery charge, more often than not, you’ve lost a sale. But what is the best way to offer free delivery?


Setting a free delivery threshold is a good idea for two reasons. Firstly, it encourages more expensive, or additional purchases, which helps to raise the average order value. Secondly, the additional spend, or margin allows you recover some, or all of the delivery cost.


Offering free delivery weekends or free delivery on certain items is a near certain way of increasing revenues, or moving old stock, in a short period. Free delivery also reduces the need to drop product margin.


Various retailers have begun offering a delivery subscription service, allowing regular customers to pay an annual fee in return for free delivery on all orders, or access to premium delivery services. This idea is yet to really catch on with customers. but perhaps there is another way. is a new service which allows customers to reclaim delivery charges across multiple retailers and recieive 10% cashback. A hybrid between Amazon Prime and a cashback scheme, this membership service has been running successfully in the US for over a decade. Importantly, members of the program still pay for delivery on every order, which allows retailers to recover delivery charges.

Provide Clear Delivery Info

A recent IMRG Study found that 46% of shoppers have abandoned online baskets due to delivery concerns. Those concerns range from not being able to see delivery info and charges before the checkout process, to a poor range of delivery options, and the lack of delivery tracking options. Our top tips for reducing delivery concerns:

Make delivery info easy to find

Take Toys R Us for example, we can see that the homepage features quite clearly the delivery options, both to home and store, and free delivery thresholds.

Toys R Us Delivery info

Delivery Options

More than ever, customers want choice. Delivery to home, delivery to work, click and collect, in store or locally, next day, named day, Saturday, and now even Sunday deliveries are being offered. Ensure your carriers can provide the range of delivery options you require. Also make sure your order fulfilment operation can cater for next day delivery, same day despatch.

Delivery Tracking

IMRG also found that 75% of customers wanted access to online order tracking, and saw that as the most important delivery factor. With companies such as DPD now taking this a step further, including a 1 hour predicted delivery window, with an eventual 15 minute delivery slot, SMS and email notifications, as well as online tracking, customers are spoilt for choice. Ensure your customers have access to the latest in delivery tracking.

Offer Easy Returns

The fashion industry suffers a returns rate of around 25%. More than in any other sector, a clear, and simple returns policy, which is easy to find is essential. Free returns is also sure to put customers at ease. The Royal Mail also found that 87% of customers thought that a free and easy returns policy was important. Make this clear on your site, ideally right on the homepage, like this example from FitFlop.

FitFlop Free Returns

In summary, making these changes may not take a lot of effort, and needn’t drive any additional cost into the business, or drop any margin. Of course, the key to eCommerce conversion is testing, and constantly improving your customer offer. Delivery factors are clearly important to customers, so make sure you’re communicating delivery options to your customers.

Learn more about Spark Response here