Does free shipping work at all?

by WF- Enzo Administrator
14 replies
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You're online shopping and upon checkout, you find out you need to spend USD 5 more to qualify for free shipping. You have two options: either you pay $3 for shipping, or you find another item for checkout.

Naturally, I'd rather find another item for checkout just because I don't wanna pay extra to ship my items. But others don't mind paying that extra shipping fee.

So what's the onus? Do you think free shipping works? If you run an ecommerce site, should you offer free shipping?
#ecommerce #free #shipping #work
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  • Profile picture of the author Reddevil007
    @dave_hermansen https://www.warriorforum.com/members/davehermansen.html


    Would be the ideal guy to answer this!
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  • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
    Shipping has been and will always be the most difficult thing to assess for eCommerce stores and your shipping policies will probably be the thing that is tweaked the most over time.

    People have become accustomed to free shipping and if you don't offer it, you could be losing sales, whether it is always free shipping or shipping over $xx amount. We try to offer free shipping in some form for all of our websites if at all possible.

    This becomes a particularly difficult question if you are shipping large/heavy items or if you are shipping internationally. Before you automatically assume one way or another, though, you should do a search for a few of your products - some small, some medium and some large sized (if applicable) and see what the top 4-5 places online are doing (it also would behoove you to check out the ads in Google Shopping).

    The places that are listed high in search rankings have likely been in business for awhile and have found the formula that works best for conversions. At least at the very beginning, you should let their experience dictate what you do, especially since that is what savvy consumers will be comparing your site to. Later, you can run a few split tests and see what works best for your particular store (maybe all the other places are wrong).
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  • Profile picture of the author volcan
    for start try free if it work then its best way for u !
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  • Profile picture of the author savidge4
    Shipping is the #1 place you can lose your shirt as an online retailer. Be it the actual shipping cost, or the cost of packaging. If you are not paying attention this is a place you can literally be bleeding cents if not dollars.

    I have online commerce sites and in ALL cases I offer free shipping AND free returns. Of course when we are saying "Free" there is a understanding that the cost of shipping is included in the cost of item.

    I also Operate stores on eBay, where I have tested this ( free shipping vs buyer paid shipping ) extensively. Free shipping wins out about 66% of the time and generally at an increased price overall.

    Something to consider with FREE shipping is the actual shipping cost. I live and operate in West Virginia. For ME, shipping costs less to Virginia or Pennsylvania than it does to say Hawaii or California.

    Using the Free shipping model which includes shipping in the cost of the item means I have determined the most expensive shipping I would have to pay and set the overall rate to that. in terms of USPS and The United States that would mean Zone 8 would be the most expensive to ship to. So If I am shipping to say zone 3, the fixed pricing has a built in profit center.

    A cool tool to get a better idea of shipping zones in the States: https://apps.endicia.com/apps/zonemap

    The other aspect of this to consider is the ease of programming on the back end. Free shipping or Flat Rate Shipping is simply easier than actually having to get in there and create shipping tables and etc etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelQuinn
    As a shopper I'm always happier if the site offers free shipping
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  • Profile picture of the author Afshan Bashir
    I think the free shipping option attracts more customers.
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  • Profile picture of the author devbackham079
    You've probably seen it as much as I have. Even a simple "clothes shopping" query turns up this kind of result -- "free shipping" is everywhere! majorly these all are extra shipping cost they count in product amount, so nothing is free in this world!!!
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  • Profile picture of the author mdgolammostafa
    You probably have seen Shipping is something you can offer. Simply put,
    Free shipping does not work for all businesses, at least when it is truly free shipping across the board, meaning that merchants absorb 100% of the shipping costs and handling costs for all online purchases.
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    • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
      Originally Posted by mdgolammostafa View Post

      You probably have seen Shipping is something you can offer. Simply put,
      Free shipping does not work for all businesses, at least when it is truly free shipping across the board, meaning that merchants absorb 100% of the shipping costs and handling costs for all online purchases.
      That's sort of a naive way of looking at things.

      When you go into business, you make a decision on how much you are going to charge for products based upon the amount of money you need to make in order to make it worth your time. You are not going to eat the cost of shipping without taking the cost into consideration (I would hope). You are going to charge a price that covers that cost and gives you the profit you need. (e.g. your profit without shipping is $100 and shipping generally costs $25-50 - something you can absorb - as opposed to your profit being $20 without shipping and shipping generally costs $20-$40).

      There is no such thing as "truly free" shipping! One way or another, the customer is paying for shipping based on the price you choose to charge for those products. Just because you choose to not charge extra for shipping does not mean that you haven't factored its cost into the price of your products.
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      • Profile picture of the author savidge4
        Originally Posted by dave_hermansen View Post

        That's sort of a naive way of looking at things
        I have had the miss fortune of trying to explain to business owners that "Free Shipping" is NOT free - this being after being consulted why their business is losing money. Honestly hard to say to someone with any amount of a straight face.

        BUT this is literally the way people see this on both ends of the spectrum ( Seller and Buyer )

        So the best way I can explain how this works.. if you go on eBay and find an item that is the cost of the item plus shipping, and then look at a competing item that is Free shipping. If you add the cost + shipping it is probably pretty close to the cost of a listing that offers free shipping.
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  • Profile picture of the author mdgolammostafa
    Hi, An increasingly popular method for retailers is to offer free-based member programs, so merchants receive annual remuneration from customers' work in exchange for shipping information at no cost or for all items. Nevertheless, many online retailers will add shipping costs at a premium to promote a "free-shipping" offer.
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  • Profile picture of the author KNZ
    I've also been thinking about free shipping. My product is expensive, but shipping seems to be the deal breaker for many. I also sell my product on Amazon, and I notice that someone will put the item in their cart, abandon the cart, and the same person will buy it on Amazon from me because they have Prime. I am thinking about offering free shipping and raising the base price of the product, but I am a bit weary since my product is already too expensive for many.
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    • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
      Originally Posted by KNZ View Post

      I've also been thinking about free shipping. My product is expensive, but shipping seems to be the deal breaker for many. I also sell my product on Amazon, and I notice that someone will put the item in their cart, abandon the cart, and the same person will buy it on Amazon from me because they have Prime. I am thinking about offering free shipping and raising the base price of the product, but I am a bit weary since my product is already too expensive for many.
      I think one thing that many people fail to recognize is that there are millions of people who make so much money, they have a tough time spending it all and they don't even think about prices all that much. THOSE are the type of people you are selling expensive items to. It's hard sometimes to take yourself out of your own head and your own personal financial situation, but you just have to ignore those doubtful preconceptions.

      As I stated before, though, whether or not you offer free shipping, the total price of your product is entirely dependent upon the marketplace. If the big guys and those who rank well are doing it, you need to follow their lead. Otherwise, there is little chance of long term success in your niche.
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  • Profile picture of the author agmccall
    I used to have a ecommerce site and we had free shipping. Well the site advertised FREE shipping but in reality it was shipping included. We knew what it cost for the largest item we sold and also knew the minimum and we just made our price cover shipping and handling.

    When it comes to shipping I think most people just want to know what it is up front. Another thing is to just advertise a "Flat Rate" shipping cost.

    al
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    "The problem with the rat race is that even if you win you're still a rat." ~Lilly Tomlin~

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