24 Feb 2022

8 Effective Ways to Offer Free Shipping

Nothing comes for free in the world of business, so the term ‘free shipping’ is actually misleading. Because retailers adjust their product prices and the requirement for free shipping in a well-planned manner so they can incorporate the shipping cost within the prices. And that’s known as ‘free shipping’ to general consumers. More importantly, people love the word FREE so much that they even tend to spend up to 30% more money to get their product delivered for free. 

Free shipping facilities can increase sales to a great extent as online shoppers find shipping costs as a burden imposed upon them. Therefore, you have to offer free shipping in creative ways so that customers feel happy about it and your profit margin remains viable at the same time. Before digging into the ways to offer free shipping, let’s know why it is necessary for online shipping. 


Why Free Shipping Is Important

Why free shipping is important

Let’s focus on a few facts and figures about free shipping in the ecommerce business. According to a study, 90% of online shoppers see free shipping as a top stimulus that induces them to buy online. Statistics show that 86% of customers leave their cart midway after noticing the shipping cost added to billing information. 93% of them are ready to add more items to their carts only to meet the threshold of minimum order requirements to qualify for free shipping. These numbers prove how desperate online shoppers are to get free shipping as an incentive. 

Everyone, including me, doesn’t want to get unexpected “shipping costs” surprises in the checkout process. Since people are used to paying only the product prices when buying from brick and mortar shops, they feel that shipping costs related to online shopping are something they have to pay extra for just because the platform is different. You need to introduce the word FREE to deal with such psychological aspects of mass consumers. But, don’t go broke in order to offer free shipping. Learn the feasible and creative ways to offer free shipping from the below section. 


How to Offer Free Shipping Without Going Broke 

If you really offer free shipping without making arrangements to cover the shipping cost by other means, you’re likely to lose money and see a great loss in the business. Yes, it's true that free shipping directly contributes to generating more sales, but such business models aren't sustainable. That’s why you have to offer free shipping creatively and cover all these expenses by selling your products. 


1. Incorporate the Shipping Costs into Your Product Prices

Incorporate the Shipping Costs into Your Product Prices

This is the simplest way to offer free shipping. High prices may leave a poor impression on your customers’ minds. But, when customers see that you offer free shipping with slightly high prices, they’ll prefer your business over your competitors who ask for lower prices but charge delivery fees. So, you must analyze your competitors’ prices and set the price cautiously to keep it reasonable for customers. 

One more thing to remember. Consider the weight of the package before offering free delivery. Naturally, heavy products come with more shipping costs. If you add this cost to your product price, you’ll lose the competitive edge in the market. It’s better to offer free shipping only for those products that weigh comparatively less. 


2. Offer Free Shipping for New Customers Only

Offer Free Shipping for New Customers Only

This is an effective tactic to engage prospective customers with your business. Once they have a pleasant shopping experience with you, they're more likely to come back to buy more even if you don't offer free shipping for future orders. Hook your new customers with such incentives and try your best to retain them as much as possible. It’s better to set long-term goals surrounding each customer. 


3. Create a Sense of Urgency

Some retailers can't afford to offer free delivery all year round. If you’re one of them, offer free shipping only for a limited time. For example, you can run a campaign named “Free Shipping on Any Order for 72 Hours Only”. Or you can offer free shipping only on weekends and holidays. Creating fear of missing out is a proven marketing tactic to encourage buyers to make a purchase. Any such techniques will provide you with enough sales to make profits even after covering the shipping expenses. 


4. Include a Few Limited Locations 

Include a Few Limited Locations

Another way to narrow down your free shipping offer is to include only the convenient shipping destinations. Choose places that are near to your warehouse, involve low shipping costs, and allow you to offer free shipping at competitive prices. In such cases, you can also fix a few pickup points all over the selected places. People will collect their products from dedicated pickup points of their locality. This will save you money as home delivery services cost more. 


5. Offer Free Shipping with a Minimum Order

Offer Free Shipping with a Minimum Order

This is a viable option for the retailers. Buyers are likely to add one or two more items to their cart to qualify for free shipping offers. That helps retailers sell more and leave positive impressions on consumers’ minds as they’re offering free delivery. Determining a minimum order threshold increases the average order value of the products and consequently reduces the risk of confronting loss in the business. 


6. Consider Introducing Flat-rate Shipping for All Items

You can offer a flare-rate delivery fee for every item you sell regardless of their sizes and category. This isn’t free shipping actually but it affects buyers positively since they know beforehand how much they need to pay to get the products shipped to their doorsteps. This encourages buyers who want to make larger purchases but demotivates others who have plans to buy in smaller quantities. To solve this problem, you can offer the same shipping rate for a range of products that weigh within a given limit. Increase the shipping rate as the weight gets heavier. Introduce multiple segments, with multiple flat rates. 


7. Make Use of a Membership Program

Make Use of a Membership Program

Encourage your customers to join membership programs and avail premium offers on purchases and shipping. This will also help you build customer loyalty to a great extent. Only members will enjoy exclusive offers, special discounts, and free shipping. You can build strong relationships with your loyal customers through such membership programs. Customers will feel more connected to your business if they get special treatment as valued members of your business. 


8. Offer Free Shipping on a Combination of Products

Offer Free Shipping on a Combination of Products

This is another form of upselling and cross-selling. You can offer free shipping on a set of complementary items bought together. For example, if customers buy a pair of earphones and a mobile cover for their smartphones, they’ll get free home delivery. This is a smart business trick as it helps you sell two items together and keeps customers happy as they’re offered with free shipping. You can create different sets of products by combining them as you want. There’s no hard and fast rule. But, combine items that are likely to be bought together more often for better conversions.


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