Free Shipping No Longer a Luxury

This week, we’ll be taking a deeper look into the realities of coupons and discounts for use with your online store. Check out our posts all week for more information.

Free Shipping, Volusion, ecommerce, sell online, shipping, holiday sales online, coupons, discounts
I’ve never really been a fan of Black Friday in the past, but this year the holiday spirit was alive the day after Thanksgiving. I wasn’t necessarily interested in picking up gifts for my loved ones; no, I was far more concerned with treating myself. So, with leftover cranberry sauce dripping onto my laptop, I checked my email and found a “30% off all jeans” coupon from my favorite store. I was hooked like a fish and entered the site, eager to drop some cash.

Once I found the pair of dark wash I’d been salivating over for the past two months (and a sweater…and a new belt, of course) I clicked the checkout button and saw that I had saved over $30 – what a savvy shopper I was! But then came the ugly realization that I didn’t save much at all – after shipping and tax, I was back at the original total before discount. Feelings of shock and sorrow set in. How could my favorite store betray me with these extraneous charges? With a deep sigh and clenched teeth, I entered my credit card number and placed the order. Talk about buyer’s remorse – I was already mad and my clothes weren’t coming in for another 7-10 days!

The moral of the story? Customers don’t expect to pay shipping when ordering online.

Clearly it’s not ideal since you have to pay a good deal of money to package items and send them around the globe, but shoppers’ lines between a physical store and the online environment have disappeared. Here are some stats from freeshipping.org to demonstrate the importance of this discount:

  • 78% of online customers said shipping costs discouraged them from online purchases
  • 43% of shoppers abandon their shopping carts because of unexpectedly high shipping charges
  • 90% of respondents said free shipping offers would entice them to spend more online
  • 72% of consumers said that if a site didn’t offer free shipping, they would use another ecommerce site that did

 

I can already hear readers saying, “But shipping is x% of my overall operating costs!” Never fear, there are ways you can make it work. Take a look at a few ideas:

  • Only offer free shipping based on a specific dollar amount. For example, “Free Shipping with Orders over $75.”
  • Change the overall pricing structure of your products to provide a cushion that absorbs costs associated with free shipping.
  • Only offer free shipping for your most affordable shipping options. For example, provide free shipping only for 5-7 day delivery, not for overnight or 2-day.

Of course, you have to make the decision that is most appropriate for your particular business needs. Just know that in several cases, your business can’t afford not to offer free shipping, especially during the chaotic holiday season. And if you just can’t provide free or discounted shipping, at least make sure your customers aren’t surprised when they see the additional fee on their checkout page.

 

And in case you were wondering, the jeans arrived and they’re awesome. Now I just need to work off the turkey and dressing before they fit like they’re supposed to.

Happy selling!
-Matt Winn, Marketing Associate, Volusion

About 

Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

16 Responses to “Free Shipping No Longer a Luxury”

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  9. Matt

    As a follow up, here’s a great article to help calculate the cost of free shipping for your business: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/928-Ecommerce-Know-How-The-Free-Shipping-Equation

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