Article | Marketing Letters | March 2010

I'll Have the Ice Cream Soon and the Vegetables Later: A Study of Online Grocery Purchases and Order Lead Time

by Katherine L. Milkman, Todd Rogers and Max Bazerman

Abstract

How do decisions made for tomorrow or two days in the future differ from decisions made for several days in the future? We use data from an online grocer to address this question. In general, we find that as the delay between order completion and delivery increases, grocery customers spend less, order a higher percentage of "should" items (e.g., vegetables), and order a lower percentage of "want" items (e.g., ice cream), controlling for customer fixed effects. These findings are all consistent with theories suggesting that people's "should" selves exert more influence over their choices the further in the future outcomes will be experienced. However, orders placed for delivery tomorrow versus two days in the future do not show this want/should pattern, and we discuss a potential explanation.

Keywords: Time Management; Service Delivery; Online Technology; Decisions; Customers; Retail Industry;

Citation:

Milkman, Katherine L., Todd Rogers, and Max Bazerman. "I'll Have the Ice Cream Soon and the Vegetables Later: A Study of Online Grocery Purchases and Order Lead Time." Marketing Letters 21, no. 1 (March 2010): 17–35.