Truck shipping items

Free Shipping Strategies: Why to Offer? How to Offer? When to Offer?

Free Shipping is a sales strategy used by eCommerce retailers to encourage online shoppers to make a purchase, without having to worry about the shipping cost.

“Does it actually help in improving sales? Should I offer Free Shipping?”

Well, the answer is, “Yes. It does”

One may argue that free shipping is not the ideal solution to ensure growth in sales, as it can affect the profit margin. However, if the right strategies are applied, it can surely bring effective results.

This article revolves around free shipping strategies and will help you understand the benefits of offering free shipping. Apart from this, I will guide you on how to offer free shipping and when you should offer it.

So, let’s start.

Why Offer Free Shipping?

A person on a scooter to ship items

It is obvious that free shipping delights customers but it also provides ample benefits to eCommerce merchants.

1. Increases Sales

The primary benefit of offering free shipping is that it increases sales.

The tag of “Free Shipping” induces customers with the thought that they would not have to pay additional costs while purchasing an item or product. A study by Invesp confirms the same, which says that 9 out of 10 consumers find free shipping to be the primary reason to shop online.

2. Increases Average Order Value

Adding to the benefits of free shipping is the rise in the average order value.

Retailers often set a minimum threshold for customers to avoid shipping charge. Only if a customer makes a purchase over a certain amount, as specified by the retailer, he or she would be eligible for free shipping.

Shoppers add additional items to the cart to cross the threshold value, which eventually results in an increase in the average order value.

The stats collected by Invesp confirms that 93% of the online shoppers show the tendency to purchase more products if the free shipping option is available.

3. Reduces Cart Abandonment

High shipping cost is the foremost reason behind shopping cart abandonment. And it makes sense. When consumers look for a product, they do not take the shipping charge into account.

And when the price on the payment page goes much higher than what it was on the product page, consumers reluctantly abandon their cart.

Imagine how satisfying it would be for a customer if the product price remains the same throughout. It would, in fact, trigger an instant purchase.

4. Improves Brand Loyalty

Free shipping helps you earn customer loyalty and improves brand loyalty simultaneously. Customers become loyal to your brand and they keep coming back to your store at regular intervals, avoiding your competitors who are charging a high shipping cost.

How to Offer Free Shipping?

how to offer free shipping

After reading the above benefits, you might be surrounded by thoughts about how to offer free shipping. Here are the ways-

1. Over a Certain Product Value

E-retailers often provide free shipping on expensive items, which are ideal to cover the shipping cost. You can follow a similar approach. Remove the shipping cost when a customer buys a high-priced item. It indirectly encourages up-selling by making a customer go for the higher purchase.

2. Over a Certain Cart Value

You can define a cart value which a customer must need to match if he or she does not want to pay the shipping charge.

For example, free shipping if the total cart value exceeds $100.

3. Limited-Time Free Shipping

Create urgency to purchase by offering limited-time free shipping. The purpose is to convert prospective buyers into potential customers.

Start sending out emails or post it on social media to make your customers aware of this limited-time offer. Do whatever it takes to reach your audience.

4. On Special Occasions

Free shipping can provide a huge boost to your sales during the holiday season, simply because the shopping fever is high at that time. Occasions like Black Friday, Halloween, Christmas, New Year provide a perfect opportunity to grab more sales by offering free shipping.

5. On Taking a Membership

You can charge an annual subscription fee for a membership program, under which customers can enjoy the free of cost shipping.

One of the popular examples is Amazon Prime that offers free and quick shipping under their membership program.

6. On Shopping for a Certain Quantity or a Package

This can include offers like Buy 2 or buy a combo and get free shipping.

However, you need to make sure that the package that you are offering or the products falling under “Buy 2 or buy a combo” offer can adjust your shipping cost, else it will be a loss if it is applied on low-priced products too.

When to Offer Free Shipping?

when to offer free shipping

Now, the question arises when to offer free shipping. Have a look.

1. If Your Competitors are Offering It

It’s good to track your competitors’ activities. It provides you with the areas of improvement.

Check whether your competitors are offering free shipping or not. If they are doing it, you should offer it too, to be in the race among brands. If they aren’t, you can use this to your advantage and get a competitive edge over your competitors.

2. If You Have Adjusted the Shipping Cost on Your Products

Make sure you have adjusted the products’ price accordingly so that you do not have to bear a loss even after providing free shipping.

3. Free Shipping on Returns

Returns are bound to take place in eCommerce, and if you fail to provide an easy return and on top of that charge shipping cost to place a return, it can leave a negative impression about your brand.

To improve customer satisfaction and maintain customer loyalty, you can devoid your customers from the shipping charge when they place a return request.

Give a read to:

5 Ways to Manage eCommerce Returns

6 Simple Tips to Reduce eCommerce Returns

PrestaShop Free Shipping Manager by KnowBand

Set shipping rules, adjust the shipping price and do much more with PrestaShop Free Shipping Manager addon.


Key Features:

1. Set the minimum cart value for a customer to receive free shipping.

2. Set the minimum and maximum weight of the products to get the free shipping facility.

3. Allow free shipping to users of a particular zone. (Africa, Asia, Europe, etc)

4. Make free shipping available for visitor, guest and customer.

5. Help customers understand the shipping criteria right when they are on the checkout page.

The Bottom line

Free shipping can be a great marketing tactic to boost your eCommerce sales and reduce cart abandonment. But not everyone can afford to provide it. E-commerce giant Amazon started offering free shipping way back but is quite difficult for small scale businesses.

So, make sure to check whether it would be the right idea for your business or not.

If you are already offering it, do let me know how useful it has been to your business so far. If you are planning to offer it, check out the above mentioned free shipping strategies and set yours accordingly.

Have some more points to add? Let me know by dropping a comment below.

Liked this? You will like this too:

How to Simplify the Online Shopping Experience of Customers?

Manish Barthwal

Manish Barthwal

Following his passion for writing, Manish has been providing value to his readers through his write-ups. He predominantly writes for the e-commerce industry. Apart from writing, Manish's love for cricket is unmatchable. He is an ardent cricket fan.

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