Tactic #44 - Offer multiple delivery options, including Express

Tactic_ Offer multiple delivery options, including Express


Offering multiple delivery options is important both to offer choice to the customer but also for the possibility of further profit made on that purchase.

Customers like to have a sense of control over their purchasing and different delivery options are always appreciated.

Research has shown that we are more drawn towards immediate gratification and so the possibility of quicker delivery time may be the factor that encourages them to complete their purchase and will also add another profitable element on to the purchase for you.


  • Autonomy bias (Deci, 1971; Ryan, 2008)
  • Immediacy effect (Ainslie, 1975; Laibson, 1997; Bickel; Odum & Madden, 1999; Frederick; Loewenstein & O’Donoghue, 2002)

The Research

Autonomy bias

The Autonomy bias is part of the Self-determination theory, studied by Deci (1971) and Ryan (2008), which explores the degree to which an individual’s behaviour is self-motivated. Autonomy bias is our universal and innate need to be agents of our own lives. We have a need to make our own choices and to have the ability to implement these choices by our own free will. This may include deciding what we do, how we do it, when we do it and where we do it. A high level of perceived autonomy comes with feelings of certainty, reduced stress and a high level of ‘intrinsic motivation’. This increases the likelihood of persistent behaviour. We especially don’t like to feel coerced: it undermines this intrinsic motivation and we become less interested in doing something.

Studies have shown that restrictions on our autonomy lead to dissatisfaction. For example, one study revealed that the greatest source of dissatisfaction amongst doctors wasn’t having to deal with insurance companies or the piles of paperwork but instead a lack of control over their daily schedules. Studies also show that even altruistic actions (normally shown to increase positivity and well-being) will fail to produce these positive feelings when they’re coerced.

Autonomy bias has applications in management and marketing as a tool for motivating employees or customers to get the best response and engagement from them by knowing when and how best to award them autonomy.

Immediacy effect

Immediacy Effect (also called “Hyperbolic Discounting” or “Present Focus Bias”) is the brain’s built-in mechanism that makes people prefer an instant reward over attaining something of potentially more value in the future. This devaluing of something that is delayed can be explained by our modern desire for immediate gratification: our brains are wired to prefer the instant and immediate over the future possible so that present rewards are valued more highly than future ones. Scientists who have explored this subject have found that the Immediacy Effect is hyperbolic, meaning that it isn’t time-consistent, with the value placed on something falling rapidly and inconsistently depending on the time delay.

If you were offered the choice of £50 right now or £100 tomorrow, you would probably choose the latter but “hyperbolic discounting” describes how the importance of this extra £50 quickly diminishes for most people as the delay gap widens. For instance, if someone instead asked you to choose between £50 today or £100 in one year, you’re statistically more likely to take the £50 right now, even though the difference in financial gain hasn’t altered. This principle also helps to explain why we have so much trouble quitting unhealthy habits that procure us pleasure now but problems in the future.

The Immediacy Effect is important within the commercial world as this desire to have something immediately can affect sales of a product. For example, delivery delays are likely to have an effect on the decision of a customer to purchase with you. Offering express delivery on the other hand will often motivate people to make a purchase, and often be willing to pay more for it or extra for the special delivery time, as they are motivated by their desire to have something immediately.

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