BY: HUNTER HARTMAN
Have you ever added something to a shopping cart at an eCommerce platform website and abandoned the cart when you saw the exuberant shipping cost? If your answer is yes, you’re not alone. This is a reoccurring question for eCommerce merchants, Should I offer free shipping? Perhaps after a certain threshold? I recently had a conversation with a client that was offering her customers an API to FedEx and USPS to choose a carrier they preferred. When I asked her what her abandoned carts percentage was, her response was simply, “Very High.”
Studies have shown time and time again that adult shoppers will add items to their shopping carts in order to satisfy the free shipping threshold. As price repeatedly has been a top consideration for consumers, merchants are looking for new ways to display shipping promotions to earn the business.
When I spoke with this customer of mine, I asked her if she had considered ‘Free Shipping’ after a certain threshold. She said she would rather sell the product and lose some money in shipping than not sell the product at all. I recommended she make a business decision on what she could offer free shipping at and try it out to see if her business would grow. I did warn her however; that once she offered Free Shipping- there likely was no going back without losing customers.
I warn my customers before going directly into free shipping to consider the following.
· Offer shipping after a certain threshold. If you offer Free Shipping altogether, you will notice your order value go down.
· Some products do not require free shipping due to their niche or value. Consumers may be more influenced by discounts than Free Shipping with these products. You must understand your consumers.
· Remind customers they are saving money on their shipping cost. One of the most basic economic concepts is there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone has to pay for shipping, whether it is the merchant or the consumer.
· Build the price of shipping into the price of the product. You may be surprised to see consumers will be willing to pay more for a product if it has free shipping, even if they would’ve paid for shipping and it would have been less expensive.
Other areas to improve shipping consumer relations are detailed below.
· Present the shipping time frames that it should take to get to the customer. Setting the expectations accordingly will make customers happier, even if it’s a slower delivery.
· Some customers are happy to pay a nominal fee to get the product faster. This is an opportunity to give “Express Shipping” for an upgraded shipping cost. Depending on the merchant, this may be another area of profit as many times Express Shipping costs more than it does to the merchant to ship out.
Finally, to create the most value for each consumers experience on your eCommerce site, merchants need to know when to expect the package. Consumers should receive a tracking update from their shipping software with an expected delivery time. This should limit the customer service calls and give the consumer a great overall experience.
Hunter Hartman is an eCommerce consultant for Move Method and is based in Orange County, CA. His focus is on small-to-large eCommerce companies that are shipping business-to-consumer. Through his shipping expertise he has helped hundreds of companies save money shipping small parcels and helped to integrate a more automated solution.
Hunter Hartman is a shipping consultant in the eCommerce world. He blogs about the changing landscape of shipping.