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April 8, 2021

Free Shipping: Making It Work

The Basics of Free Shipping

While it’s pretty self-explanatory in nature, free shipping is when online orders are shipped for no additional fee as opposed to charging a few dollars. As for why this is done, it’s not entirely done out of goodwill, although that can be a factor for some eCommerce business owners. Free shipping is actually a marketing technique that can drive sales and discourage checkout abandonment. Shown to increase revenue anywhere between 10 and 90% depending on who you consult, it can have a fantastic payoff in the end despite the greater upfront associated costs, but it greatly depends on the type of free shipping offered, site traffic, product popularity, the buyer’s intentions, and the prices of both products and shipping on your end.

The success relies on all of these factors. For example, any customers that aren’t quite at the end stages of the buyer cycle, will likely not be convinced just by the promise of free shipping. They need to already have the need and interest in your product. Free shipping can’t generate this; rather, it can just encourage them to follow through with the purchase they want. Similarly, pricing that is too expensive, an interest that isn’t strong enough, too little traffic, and more can all decrease the effectiveness of free shipping as a selling tactic.  

How It Can Make Sense for eCommerce

So, free shipping can obviously work if all the proper pieces are aligned. We know this. How are you supposed to get there, though? How can you ensure free shipping makes sense for you? Here are a few tips that should be able to help you out.

  • Pick the right free shipping method – Most of us are probably pretty familiar with free 2-day shipping on certain items thanks to a certain near-monopoly, but there are several other options out there. You can also offer unlimited free shipping, shipping based on spending, time-dependent free shipping, and more. All come with various perks, so choose carefully for the maximum payoff!

  • Create a strong following and product catalog – As said previously, free shipping means nothing if interest isn’t there. Help create that by focusing on customer outreach and offering products that people truly want to buy.

  • Find ways to increase checkout flow – Checkout flow is one of the biggest factors that determine whether no cost shipping makes sense for your eCommerce brand. Naturally, that means increasing this to increase the effectiveness of the shipping. Streamlining the checkout process, offering guest checkout, offering several payment methods, and more all help with this.

  • Be conscientious of pricing – Everyone likes a good deal. Don’t be afraid to find ways to make this happen, but don’t underprice things either. Customers will question the safety of your brand and the quality of your product if you do. Somewhere in the middle is perfect.

  • Recognize it won’t always work – Seems weird, we know. But sometimes finding ways to make free shipping work means accepting it won’t be the right choice every time. Pick your areas where you use them carefully—efficiency matters. Pick the right times and ways to use it, and you’ll benefit a lot more than you would otherwise.