How to Harness the Power of Free Shipping Sales Promotions

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Customers have come to expect free shipping when shopping online and use it has a determinant of where they shop. According to online shoppers, free shipping is the most valued factor of the online shopping experience.

What’s even crazier is the psychological effect that free shipping has on consumers. Shoppers spend 30% more per order when free shipping is included. It’s evidently clear that free shipping can be very beneficial. Below, we’ll take a look at the most effective way to offer free shipping to shoppers on your site!

Benefits of Free Shipping

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Increased Number of Sales: Free shipping will significantly increase the number of sales transactions on your site. Shipping costs remain the #1 cause of abandoned shopping carts. We’ve all been in that situation where you add a bunch of items to your cart, see the shipping costs, and immediately bail. So by making shipping free in at least some way, you can capitalize on more sales.

Increased Order Size: I stated this before but it’s worth repeating. Customers tend to buy more when free shipping is offered. a study by Compete states that 93% of online buyers are encouraged to buy more products if free shipping options are available. When we get to shipping strategies we’ll discuss how to use thresholds to increase order sizes.

New Customer Acquisition: Shoppers look for retailers that offer affordable or free shipping and if you market your shipping options correctly on site, then this can be a deciding factor for individuals to purchase from you.

Repeat Customers: Shoppers who have a good experience will come back and since free shipping is valued so highly, it can solidify the shopping experience for particular individuals.

3 Things to Consider

Margins/Specific Product Margins: Start by taking a look at your margins. How big of an order must you have in order for you to offer free shipping? Also consider your specific product margins and shipping weight. Are there certain products that you just won’t be able to ship for free?

Average Order Size: This is key in determining the threshold in which free shipping is offered. If you have an average order of $60, then offering free shipping on order of $75 or more seems like a realistic option.

Customer Location: Determine where your customers are located. If you are shipping internationally then you may need to limit free shipping options to domestic locations.

Different Free Shipping Promotions

Free Shipping on Complete Order

Offer free shipping on orders regardless of order value or the items included in the order. This is typical of retailers with lightweight products and products with high margins. In order to make this work for your business, you may think about making ground delivery free because it will be the cheapest option.

Free Shipping with Threshold

Require your shoppers to meet a minimum value threshold in order to receive free shipping. For example, offer free shipping on orders of $100 or more. A study by Harris Interactive and UPS found that 39% of customers would purchase enough to get free shipping so could be the strategy for you if you’re looking to increase order size and also maintain profit margins.

Free Shipping at Certain Times of the Year

Competition and demand can get high during certain times of the year, especially holidays and key sales dates. Offering free shipping during these periods can meet customer expectations and get you more sales. It’s important to test which holidays or periods of the year work well with free shipping.

Free Shipping to Specific Locations

You may not be able to offer free shipping to all of your shoppers but some is better than none. Provide free shipping options to shoppers in the locations that you can actually ship to without it breaking the bank.

Free Shipping on Returns

This is a strategy that many retailers overlook or simply don’t know about. 82% of consumers are likely to complete a sale when free shipping on returns is provided. Offering free shipping on returns is an excellent way to provide value and also show that customer service is a priority. Because of this, you should put more emphasis on product education and sizing to ensure that you’re limiting the amount of returned items.

Notifying Shoppers of Free Shipping Promotions

We already discussed the impact that free shipping can have on sales and why it’s important to meet your shopper’s needs. To truly harness the power of your free shipping promotion, you need to engage these shoppers.

Free Shipping Pop Up

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Since the majority of shoppers value free shipping, present a pop up showcasing your free shipping promotion. This can be an email pop up where shoppers must enter an email address to receive a promo code or it can simply be on site messaging stating how to get free shipping (on all orders, on orders of $50+, etc.)

This will immediately fulfill a shopper’s need for free shipping, help you capture more emails, and ultimately drive more sales. Display the pop up within 15 seconds of a visit to ensure that the majority of traffic will know that you offer a form of free shipping.

Exit Intent Pop Up

Another pivotal point in a shopper’s visit is if and when they decide to leave your website. This can be for a variety of reasons but if a shopper has intent to buy, they are most likely price shopping on a competitor’s site, or looking for a coupon code from a third party site.

You want to keep shoppers on your site and an exit intent pop up allows you to do this. Present leaving shoppers with your free shipping promotion and persuade them to check out that same visit or enter their email. This is a safety net that drives you more conversions than you would get otherwise.

Cart Abandonment Offer

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The shopper has reached your cart page. They are so close to checking out. Yet this exact point is where 68% of all shopping carts are abandoned. So how can we convince shoppers to complete their purchase?

Present a specific cart abandonment offer that fulfills the shopper’s needs, convenient for the shopper, and ultimately pushes the shopper to buy from you. When a shopper attempts to leave your shopping cart or checkout pages, present them with a promo code for free shipping. This requires no action on their part and makes the purchasing decision much easier. All this, without ever having to leave your site. You’ll convert more shopping carts and reduce cart abandonment!

Note: If you’re not using promo codes, this is still the perfect time to let shoppers know about current promotions. Notify shoppers of free shipping on orders of $100+. This can increase average order size just because shoppers want to get free shipping!

Wrapping Up

Offering free shipping is a sure fire way to better meet your shopper’s needs which will in turn, result in more sales. It’s important to determine how you will offer free shipping to customers. Consider the listed factors and the various free shipping promotions. Lastly, you must engage your traffic and notify shoppers effectively. Focus on key points of the purchasing process: upon arrival, upon exit, and cart/checkout pages.

Written By Grant Thomas

Grant is a Marketing Manager at Justuno where he develops strategies for driving and converting website traffic. He regularly writes about e-commerce marketing, conversion rate optimization, and email marketing on the Justuno Blog.