Shipping is a significant component of ecommerce – it’s the last step in the order fulfillment process and possibly the last interaction your customer will have with you.
However, it remains one of the most common negatives that consumers name when shopping online. Customers don’t like to pay to get their products, and they don’t like to wait for them most of the time, either. That leaves retailers with two choices: offer shipping that’s super-fast or super-cheap. But as attractive as free shipping can be in the customer’s eyes, there are a few things retailers need to consider before adding it to their repertoire. Here, we debunk some of the most common myths.
It’s The Industry Norm
eBay used to encourage sellers to offer unconditional free shipping – but it is not the industry norm. While many shoppers take it for granted and expect free shipping, it is still not an industry standard. Even if the shipment is ‘free’ to the customer, the retailer pays for it via charges to the carrier, wages to the employees prepping the package for shipment, packaging supplies, etc. And since carriers charge a minimum based on dimensional weight, it isn’t feasible to ship something like a CD or an expensive pen for free. Some of those costs will need to be passed on to the customer, so it’s important to figure out what products it makes sense to offer discounted shipping.
Shipping Is Built Into The Product Cost
Another myth consumers harbor is that shipping cost is built into the product’s price. You may buy a costly phone or a tablet, but expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it qualifies for free shipping. As we mentioned, shipping works on volume and dimension, so often, retailers won’t offer free shipping based solely on dollar amounts alone.
There’s No Minimum
Very few ecommerce merchants will ship every single purchase for free. Most sellers – including giants like Amazon – have a free shipping minimum spend. You must purchase goods worth a certain amount to qualify for free shipping. With Amazon, it could be as low as $25, but for retailers selling luxury items, like ShopBop, the minimum spend could be $100. That’s why retailers need to figure out what makes sense for them – if product margins are high, it may be on certain items only; if you’re looking to catch a break on shipping charges, it may be on a specific dollar amount to make up for the charges.
It Will Arrive Quicker
Not at all. With some merchants, selecting the free shipping options means a much longer wait for your product. With other merchants, there may be a fixed time. In most cases, however, same or 2-day shipping is never free. So remember, free shipping (even with a minimum order value) does not mean faster shipping.
It’s a Seasonal Thing
While free shipping schemes and offers abound during the holiday shopping season, it’s not limited to those few months. Sure, you might get a better deal during Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Free Shipping Day, but more and more retailers are hopping on the free shipping bandwagon to make it a permanent promotional solution for them. If you’re a consumer: shop around to find the best deal. If you’re a retailer: find a way to make it make sense because it spurs sales!