Should I Offer Free Shipping?

73% of consumers want to see free shipping in checkout.1

For many e-tailers, that’s an alarming statistic. “Free” shipping isn’t free at all. It just means that your customer isn’t eating the cost — you are. And if you don’t offer free shipping, someone else will — meaning you’re potentially losing customers. 

So with the widespread availability of free shipping, does that mean you need to say goodbye to bigger profit? Not necessarily — there’s a silver lining to the free shipping problem.

83% of customers are willing to wait an additional two days for delivery if shipping is free.2 That gives you more flexibility to find affordable shipping options and soften your losses.

And knowing that you have a little more room to spend, it’s time to take a closer look at your shipping budget.

Can you even afford shipping?

You’ll need to make sure your profit margins can support taking on any additional costs. And while this is a deal-breaker for some businesses, often you can find room to adjust costs to make it work.

There are tons of resources available to help you analyze your specific costs and see if free shipping is a viable option. Check out this white paper to learn more.

If it seems like shipping is too expensive a cost to take on, there may be some alternatives you haven’t discovered.

What shipping options are you offering?

Customers care about delivery speed. But ultimately, minimizing shipping costs will go further toward keeping them loyal. So if a more cost-effective shipping option will allow you to offer free shipping, you should take advantage of it.

And depending on the specifics of the deliveries, your customers may never even notice a difference. There are several cost-saving options you can use to protect your bottom line while encouraging customer loyalty. 

  • Extend the delivery window. Instead of a guaranteed 2-day delivery that your customer pays for, offer a delivery time of 2 to 7 days for free. This option provides a happy medium between retaining customers and minimizing expenses.
  • Build the costs into your price. Often, it’s hard to price items based on shipping, because the rate changes drastically based on the order. But by taking advantage of flat-rate shipping, you know the costs up-front and can adjust your pricing. Your customers never see a shipping charge, and you don’t take on the cost.

Don’t let free shipping get you down. With a careful look at your budget, you can find flexible options that benefit everyone — and give your customers one more reason to keep shopping with you.

 

1GetElastic.com. http://www.getelastic.com/shopping-cart-abandonment-stats-infographic/

2comScore. http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press-Releases/2014/6/Study-Consumers-Demand-More-Flexibility-When-Shopping-Online 

 

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