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The third in our series of ecommerce tips to help you boost sales and your bottom line, this week we’re looking at offering free shipping – and how to manage it effectively.
For some online retailers, the thought of offering free shipping conjures up fears of reduced margins and negative impact on profits, but if your competitors are providing postage for nothing, you’re definitely going to be losing out on business.

In 2015, comScore provided some compelling statistics that show the real value of this shipping option, saying: “Free shipping continues to drive purchasing decisions as 58% of online shoppers reported adding items to their shopping cart in order to qualify for the incentive. Further, 83% are willing to wait an additional 2 days for delivery if shipping is free, and 68% said free returns shipping is needed to complete a sale.

As with any ecommerce strategy, it’s all about setting the right parameters to ensure it offers a tangible return...

Top tips for managing free shipping offers

If you’re thinking about offering shipping for free to help increase revenue, here are a few things to consider...

  1. Analysis – you need to cover the cost of shipping somehow, so make sure you crunch your numbers at the outset and build these additional costs into your product mark-ups.
  2. Set minimum spend limits – you can boost sales even further if you offer free shipping but only on a minimum purchase value. Most shoppers will happily add an extra item or two if it means not paying for postage. This also helps to mitigate the risks that can come with free shipping on low order value – it’s all about balance.
  3. Special offers – if you don’t want to offer free shipping as standard, you can always use it as a special offer, such as a sign-up an incentive for newsletters or as a one-off ‘thank you’ for customer loyalty.
  4. Seasonal shifts – some industries have slow periods throughout the year e.g. swimwear sellers may hit peak periods during the spring and summer, with a real slow-down during the other seasons – so roll-out a free shipping offer during the slack times to increase sales, and make sure you market it well, including on social media channels.
  5. Clarity – shipping costs or offers should be made clear throughout the buying process, not just at checkout stage. If postage is free, shout about it straight away!

We hope you’re finding our ecommerce tips helpful, and we really do recommend offering free shipping, even if it’s only under certain circumstances – remember that our ecommerce experts are always on hand if you need any extra advice!