Argos (3)

Retailers are putting unnecessary strain on themselves and Britain's road networks by offering next-day delivery, according to new research, because it barely matters to shoppers.

A survey of more than 2,000 UK shoppers, conducted by HGVtraining.co.uk, found that just 4% thought next-day delivery was important when shopping online. Most shoppers (67%) were most attracted by price, more than half (57%) were looking for free delivery, and 26% wanted a good returns policy.

Retailers up-and-down the country have made huge logistic efforts to improve their delivery times. It's now not a question of which retailer offers next-day delivery, but how late you can order to receive it the next day, with many accepting orders as late as midnight.

In fact, it appears retailers believe their customers want more. Argos and Amazon are among the few to offer same-day delivery. Amazon offers the service to its Prime subscribers, and Argos spent millions on new delivery vans, drivers and advertising for its 'Fast-Track' same-day service which launched in November.

HGVtraining.co.uk also pointed out that with so few customers seeing next-day delivery as important, the UK's transport network is being unnecessarily clogged up.

Gary Benardout, co-founder of HGVtraining.co.uk, said: "With the UK needing 50,000 new drivers in the next four years, the increasing availability of faster delivery options could mean that retailers are unable to cope. But while most people wouldn't say no to next-day delivery if it was offered, our research actually shows that it's not a persuasive factor for the vast majority."

The survey did show, however, that a quarter of shoppers do rate "a range of delivery options" as important in the online shopping experience, suggesting that it's actually flexibility, more than speed, than people really want.

Mr Benardout said: "Sometimes people want to receive an item as soon as possible, sometimes they're happy to wait a few days... If retailers can offer a range of options, they'll not only keep their customers happy, they'll reduce some of the strain felt by the transport sector."