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Should You Offer Free Shipping to Your Customers?

To ship or not to ship free. Free shipping is appealing to many customers in this convenience-driven era. In fact, free shipping is the number 1 influencer for 9 out of 10 consumers to shop online.

The short answer is yes. If possible, you should be offering free shipping to your consumers. While free is more important than fast, most consumers (54% according to the Walkersands study) say that same-day or two-day shipping would encourage them to shop online more.

“58 percent of online shoppers admit having an abandoned shopping cart after they found out the shipping costs were higher than expected. Half say they’ve abandoned a shopping cart because shipping wasn’t free.”  - CMorgan Study

Fast and free options give you an even better competitive edge and appeal to consumers.

So how can you afford to offer your customers free shipping?

Marginally Increase Prices

You’re increasing the value of your product by offering free shipping, so a small mark-up to offset costs is likely something your customers will either not notice or will appreciate.

Create a Spending Threshold

If a customer spends $35+ (or whatever spending amount you set), they get free shipping. This not only encourages consumers to spend a little more to get free shipping than they may have spent otherwise, but you’re selling more products, again offsetting the costs of free shipping.

To best determine, a spending threshold, find the average order price you see and bump it up by 10% to 15%. Keep it low enough to look like a great deal, but high enough that it is beneficial for you as well.

Offer Free, Slower Shipping

You could ship through a lower-cost shipping method like Economy at no additional cost to your consumers. It’ll take longer to get to them, so many may pay for an upgrade in shipping speed anyway, but then you’re offering them a free option.

Keep in mind though, that most consumers have come to expect fast free shipping. Amazon’s two-day delivery has set the bar high, so make sure to gather feedback and make sure your customers are happy with the options you are providing them.

Purchase Fulfillment Services

A fulfillment service will store and ship your products for your company. This eliminates your need to pay for space elsewhere to store your products, it kind of takes out two birds with one stone. By exploring fulfillment options and getting quotes, you may find that the time and space saved are worth the money.

Amazon has a fulfillment service called Fulfillment-By-Amazon, but there are other third-party fulfillment service companies as well, like efulfillmentservice.

Eat the Costs

There’s always the option to eat the costs and allow your customers to benefit from fast, free shipping with no strings attached. Keep an eye on your bottom line though, eating those costs may make you more if customers come back because of the convenience you’ve provided.

There are a lot of different ways that you can offer free shipping to your customers. Since shipping options are important to more than 80% of consumers, it’s probably worth biting the bullet as more online retailers are making sacrifices to gain more market share. 

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Duane “DJ” Sprague is a conversion rate expert, a Certified Behavioral Design Coach by the Online Influence Institute, and a certified expert by the Behavioral Design Academy, the Mindworx Academy, and the Interaction Design Institute. As CMO of a billion-dollar national franchise, he leveraged the power of social proof and online reviews to improve SEO and accelerate growth, as he developed and managed a comprehensive online reputation management strategy that spanned nearly 200 websites. He has written for Forbes, Small Biz Daily, and several industry trade magazines, contributed to several books and university course packs, and is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as a subject matter expert. He holds a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication and has received the 1st Place Gold Award in a global integrated marketing competition. Duane is the CMO of Shopper Approved, where he works with thousands of ecommerce websites to improve their SEO and CRO.

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