The Power of Free: 3 Shipping Mistakes That Can Destroy Sales

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Believe it or not, shipping is important. It’s part of your marketing strategy and the wrong tactic can kill a sale.

Shipping isn’t sexy. 

It’s not a slick marketing message creating a mouthwatering offer your customers can’t refuse.

It’s not an engaging social media post that has everyone sharing with their friends. It’s just how the product gets delivered to your customer.

But believe it or not, shipping is important. It’s part of your marketing strategy and the wrong tactic can kill a sale.

It can also be the reason that some customers simply click away from your site.

High shipping costs drive 44 percent of online customers to abandon their shopping carts. An additional 34 percent of online customers abandon their shopping carts because retailers surprise them with high costs late in the ordering process.

You worked hard to get customers into your sales funnel, don’t lose them because of a bad shipping strategy. Here’re a few mistakes you may be making that are destroying your online sales:

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You Don't Understand the Power of Free

The draw of free shipping can’t be overstated, as 85 percent of consumers claim free shipping is their number one purchase incentive. Plus, a whopping 93 percent of consumers will take some sort of action to qualify for free shipping, like adding more items to their cart.

You don’t have to create a free shipping policy for all items, as you could easily offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount. GreaterGood sells a wide variety of items that benefit causes like animals, the rainforest and hunger. They often have shipping specials, but also offer the choice to add a donation of $15 to receive free shipping.

You Don’t Leverage Shipping in Your Marketing

Unless you have free shipping every day, like L.L. Bean., you need to entice customers with shipping specials. Selz, an online E-commerce platform, has multiple shipping options that sellers can tailor depending on the situation, including setting up different shipping options per country and offering a variety of shipping options (First class, priority, UPS, etc.).

Etsy allows sellers to create their own shipping policies and customizes them for each item. Never just set up your shipping policies and prices and forget it. Instead, use shipping as a way to market your products.

Here’s an example from Native Remedies and how they promoted free shipping for Mother’s Day:

NativeRemedies Free shipping offer for Mothers Day - screen shot 

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You Try to Hide Your Shipping Issues

Amazon, one of the Kings of online retailers, is extremely good at shipping. If I wanted to buy "Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour" today, Amazon tells me it’s in stock and that I can actually have the book delivered by Happy Hour tomorrow. 

Amazon of shipping options for purchase of book, "Drinking with Saints..."book - screen shot

On the other hand, Sevenly doesn’t communicate anything about its shipping policy anywhere during the checkout process. They have the following statement on their FAQ page:

  • Production time: Standard Shipping: Your order will likely ship seven to 14 days after the order is placed. Given current delays, orders can take up to 30 days to ship. We'll do our best to keep you posted.

The fact that shipping can take up to 30 days to ship is something that should be clearly stated on the products page. Take a lesson from Amazon (who know what they are doing) and be upfront about shipping and how long it will take at all times.

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Get Your Ship Together

Shipping may not be sexy, but it’s incredibly important in your sales process. Free shipping has the power to draw customers in, and shipping specials entice them to buy today. Each retailer needs to come up with a shipping system that works for their business, location, and products.

A shipping strategy that makes customers want to buy and never seems sneaky or unclear. Just remember that shipping is part of your marketing strategy and not just a sales afterthought.

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