Truck shipping items

Free Shipping: 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?

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 tactics are applied, it can surely bring effective results.

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

Retailers often set a minimum threshold for customers to get the free shipping facility. Hence, only if a customer makes a purchase over a certain amount, as specified by the retailer, he or she would be eligible to get the product without paying the shipping cost.

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

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 the 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. Gain customer loyalty

Free shipping helps you earn the loyalty of your customers, improving brand loyalty simultaneously. Customers become loyal to your brand and they keep coming back to your store at regular intervals.

You would like to read:

Benefits of a loyalty program for your online business

How to offer free shipping?

how to offer free shipping

After reading the above benefits, you might have questions like what are the appropriate ways to offer free shipping. Here they are:

1. Over a certain product value

Retailers often provide free shipping on expensive items, that could cover the shipping cost. You can follow a similar approach when a customer buys a high-priced item so that your profit is not compromised. It 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. On selected items

You can avoid shipping charge on some specific items, for example, items that have a low shipping cost or the items that could leave enough profit margin after absorbing the shipping cost.

4. 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.

5. 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.

Give a read to:

13 Marketing Ideas to boost your Holiday sales

Top 6 PrestaShop addons to boost your Holiday sales

4 Magento extensions to capture holiday sales

6. 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.

7. Free shipping on returns

Returns are bound to take place in eCommerce, and if you fail to provide an easy return or charge some extra amount 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.

Read: 5 ways to manage eCommerce Returns

8. 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 what can be the reasons for offering free shipping, apart from the benefits, of course. Well, 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. 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 want to increase the order quantity

You can expect a higher volume of orders with conditional shipping and boost the average order value.

3. 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.

4. If you want to enhance customer experience

Customers feel comfortable if they know they do not have to pay an extra penny over the product amount while purchasing a product. And it also can’t get any better if you do not ask your customers to pay the shipping price if in case they need to place a return.

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 not, you can work upon the above-mentioned factors and set your shipping strategies accordingly.

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

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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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