As a buyer I understand not wanting the hassle of having to pay shipping. It does influence the shopping epereince when you click calculate cost and see the cost of the $50 item you just purchased go up by $8.
But as a reseller, I also understand that shipping is part of the process and in the end somebody will have to pay for it!
Most resellers will eventually have to make a decision if they are going to charge for shipping or offer free shipping and a lot of e-commerce platforms are pushing for free shipping.
Sellers that offer free shipping are often given priority in search placements and those that don’t may have their listings suppressed.
Why are companies pushing free shipping? Most state they have noticed an increse in orders once buyers are given the option to purchase without paying for shipping.
According to Red Door, when free shipping was offered to purchases over $75 orders increased by 90% and in a letter to sellers from Etys CEo Josh Silverman 20% more likely to complete their purchase when the item is marked as shipping for free
However many sellers consider the tactics used by the platforms to promote free listings coercion and don’t welcome the change.
Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you decide if you should offer free shipping
Can I afford it?
If offering free shipping to your customers is going to come at the expense of you now being able to see any profit on the product, then I would not do make it an option.
This often happens with larger bulkier items that are low priced.
However, if it won’t eat away at your bottom line much then I say go for it.
This will not only give you a more competitive edge but make buyers more likely to purchase from your store
Do I need more customers?
Of course we all want more customers, but how much are you willing to pay to have them?
Often times, as stated above, if you’re offering free shipping buyers will flock to your store over someone that isn’t and sells similar items.
However, if your items are expensive and you make a lot of money per sale, you may be able to charge shipping as your total profits will be higher and you can be picker when it comes to needing more customers.
Am I low on product?
Some sellers will raise the prices of their products if they are low.
This is to keep some stock on hand while they source for more items.
You can do the same thing with shipping, if you were once offering free shipping and are quickly running low on stock consider adding a shipping fee until you get more items in your store.
So you’ve decided to offer free shipping, here are some things to keep in mind
Adjust your price to accommodate for the shipping
A lot of sellers are simply increasing the prices of their products. If you are comfortable rolling the cost of shipping into the price and it won’t price you out of the market then this may be an option for you. Building in the shipping cost helps sellers from having to absorb the full cost of shipping.
Use it as a marketing strategy
If offering free shipping indefinitely seems like something you don’t want to do, consider offering it promotionally. You may decide to offer free shipping during the month, on a holiday, or just a store sale.
Use threshold shipping
Make free shipping conditional and offer it only to customers that spend over a certain amount of money. Make sure your threshold is one that will still give you a good profit margin
Offer it to specific customers
This goes along with using free shipping as a marketing tool, you can offer it only to people with coupon codes that come in your monthly newsletter or that are signed up on your website.
Some sellers offer free shipping on items that weigh under a certain amount. These items usually don’t cost a lot to ship and it becomes a lot more cost-effective for the seller
Some alternatives to free shipping
Offer free returns
Instead of offering free shipping, offer free returns. Usually you won’t have as many returns as items purchased so this will decrease a ton of cost on your end
Move your store
While this isn’t something you will be able to do immediately, you can start the process of moving your store onto your own platform.
This offers more control and can prove to be extremely beneficial in the long run. I talk about that in my article, how to move from an e-commerce platform to your own store.
Charge a flat fee
Many resellers choose to charge a flat fee of $3.50 or $5 so they can state it in the listing and there won’t be any surprises after shipping is calculated
It all boils down to preference, while some sellers vehemently oppose offering free shipping others love it. While some see a large increase in revenue, some see no shift in income.
Since every store and seller is different the only option is to try it out and see how your customers respond.
New to reselling? Download my 8-page quick-start guide for resellers, it includes
- 9 Things every reseller should have on-hand
- 10 things every reseller should know
- A designer bag authentication tool
- Questions to ask yourself prior to sourcing an item
- Stain Chart
- Thrifting Essentials Checklist
- You can download it here