How Merchants Can Offer Amazon-Like Free Shipping

As an e-commerce business owner, you could do everything right—craft the perfect, personalized product, price it competitively, and provide customer-friendly support—but unless you offer free shipping, your customers will be hard-pressed to click “purchase”.

In survey after survey, consumers demand free shipping.

  • Nine out of 10 people said free shipping was the No. 1 incentive when asked what would make them shop online more often.

  • 68 percent of online shoppers expect free shipping even on purchases of less than $50, with 47 percent saying they typically back out if shipping isn’t free.

  • 31 percent of consumers will wait to make a purchase until there’s a free shipping offer.

It’s no wonder that Amazon’s early success hinged heavily on whether it could allay consumer fear of shipping costs—leading to the launch of Amazon Prime. Unfortunately a program like Amazon Prime won’t work for most businesses. Your customers typically aren’t purchasing enough from you exclusively to buy-in to a program like that. But, there are still unique ways to offer free shipping that allows you to meet customer expectations while also meeting your bottom line.

Here are a few unique ways to offer free shipping.

The Purchase Value Threshold

If you’re a newer business just beginning to experiment, a good place to start is a free shipping threshold. This means that if a customer spends a certain amount at your store, they’ll qualify for free shipping.

A good rule of thumb is to choose a threshold slightly above the average purchase value. For example, if customers typically buy a $20 T-shirt from you, price your free shipping threshold at $25 or $30 to encourage larger purchases. This helps you increase the size of your orders, while saving on shipping, since you’ll be able to package multiple items in one box or envelope.

The proof is in the purchases: 48 percent of people will add items to a cart to qualify for free shipping.

The Featured Product

You can also link a certain product to a free shipping offer. For example, if a customer adds a lipstick to their beauty purchase, they’ll qualify for free shipping.

This can help you get rid of old stock to clear out space for new products, or get a new product in front of more customers. You’ll likely want to choose a product that ships for a low cost or will fit easily in packaging with most other products. Small beauty items are a good example, in addition to T-shirts, nonperishable food items, etc.

The Rewards Program

You can use free shipping to incentivize repeat, loyal customers. Tell your customers that rewards members get special perks, including access to free shipping promo codes seasonally. Add these members to an email list to help you drive customers back to your site for secondary purchases. You can even consider including discounts or shipping promos for future purchases in the tracking page you send customers with tracking information for their upcoming delivery.

A rewards program will help you build a deeper, long-lasting relationship with customers that will allow you to increase ROI and cover the cost of shipping.

Free shipping can be incredibly daunting for e-commerce retailers to offer without breaking the bank. By experimenting with the type of free shipping promotion you offer, you can ensure you’ll be profitable as you meet one of the most important consumer demands.