Free shipping is a perk that online shoppers have come to love and expect, not just during the holiday season but all year long. Here are some tips from industry experts on how online retailers can offer free shipping throughout the coming year and not break their bottom lines.
Vendio’s Harry Hirschman, VP, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service, says:
- “Even if you are unable to offer free shipping on all of your items, identify items that are overstocked or that have great margins, and offer those to customers with free shipping.”
- “Don’t skimp on packaging material because you are offering free shipping. Damaged and broken products can be more costly than using the proper shipping packaging.”
Amine Khechfe’, general manager and co-founder of Endicia, a Newell Rubbermaid brand, adds:
- “Online shoppers expect free shipping, and for online sellers, not offering free shipping can mean losing business to the competition. But times are tough and that means eCommerce sellers need to account for every dollar and find ways to offset the hard costs, like postage. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of the best shipping option available. If you’re shipping packages 5 lbs. and under, USPS is the most affordable shipping option in most cases. So if you aren’t integrating the USPS into your shipping mix, you are probably leaving money on the table. With Endicia’s shipping software, e-commerce sellers can easily access the best available USPS rates enabling fast, efficient shipping of their retail orders.”
Alibaba.com’s Michael Lee, director of Global Marketing, suggests:
- Offer free shipping with a minimum order. “If you don’t want to offer free shipping on all products, consider offering free shipping with a minimum order. This will motivate your consumers to buy more and increase average revenue per order.
Auctiva’s Jason Hair, customer service representative, (with 2 eBay Powerseller IDs and his own eBay store), shares:
“I like to offer my buyers free standard shipping, along with the option to upgrade to first class mail and priority. I give buyers this option to entice them to at least pay for first class. Even when the buyer chooses free shipping, I still ship the item first class, so I fold part of the shipping cost into the listing price. That lowers my profits slightly, but my hope is that I’ll attract buyers with free shipping and get repeat shoppers with my customer service.”
Auctiva’s Rebecca Miller- Product Manager, (an eBay seller of more than 13 years), offers:
“As a seller on eBay, I know that if I list a fixed-price item with free shipping, it will receive a boost in search results. Free shipping can also contribute to higher DSRs (Detailed Seller Ratings), which could save me money by helping me earn Top-rated Seller status. eBay sellers are responsible for listing fees as well as final value fees, which can add up, so the discount on final value fees that some Top-rated Sellers earn can be very helpful. Plus, higher DSRs may sway buyers to buy from me instead of someone else who is offering the same product with a lower rating. However, if sellers plan to offer free shipping, they need to be sure there is enough of a margin to pad the item cost. But there is good news. According to FreeShipping.org, 19 percent of consumers say they’ll pay full price if retailers offer free shipping.”
For many online sellers, offering free shipping is becoming the norm rather than the exception, and incorporating some of these tips can help retailers stay competitive. The good news is that shoppers love free shipping, and many add more items to their carts to meet free shipping minimums.