How to Use Free Shipping to Make the Holiday “Sale”

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Want to provide great customer service this holiday season (and boost your sales in the bargain)?

As we head into the rest of the holiday shopping season, one of the biggest motivators you can offer online shoppers is free shipping. Most major retailers offer some form of free shipping on their websites, so providing the same can help level the playing field with your bigger competitors.

Are you worried about free shipping eating into your profits? Of course, you’ll need to run the numbers and figure out what types of purchases you can safely offer free shipping for.

Below are 3 ways to have the best of both worlds by providing free shipping without destroying your margins:

Offer Free Shipping for Minimum Purchases

Offer free shipping after a certain minimum purchase level is reached, such as $25, $50 or $100. You can vary the levels on different days, or send different offers to different customers based on their past purchasing behaviors.

Shoppers will usually spend more than they intended in order to get the free shipping.

Offer Free Shipping During a Set Time Frame

Offer free shipping during a certain time frame. On highly competitive days, you may need to offer free shipping just to stay in the game. (You can still set a minimum order level so you don’t end up shipping $1.95 products for free.)

Offer Free Shipping for VIP Members

Offer free shipping for VIPs or members. Consider how successful Amazon has been with its Amazon Prime membership, where customers pay an annual fee to get everything shipped free.

You could set up a similar program—either have customers pay an annual fee, or offer free shipping to customers whose annual purchasing stays above a certain threshold.

Make sure you clearly display cut-off dates and times for any free shipping promotions, as well as the “fine print” such as minimum order needed. Doing so will alleviate any customer frustration by preventing customers from loading up a shopping cart only to find they can’t get the items shipped free by the desired date.

Use Free Shipping Day, December 18

Maximize your free shipping marketing potential by participating in Free Shipping Day December 18, 2013. Participating merchants guarantee free shipping by Christmas for orders placed on this day.

You can learn more and sign up to be a participating merchant at the Free Shipping Day site.

Free Shipping Photo via Shutterstock


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

5 Reactions
  1. Believe it or not, people are more encouraged to buy online if it is shipped for free. That’s because they can sometimes get the same item at the same rate. Sometimes, the price online may look cheaper. But if you will include the shipping fee, it’s essentially the same. I know I’d be more encouraged to buy from a seller who provides free shipping so I think other people will also think in the same way.

  2. One of the biggest motivators you can offer online shoppers is free shipping. People love free stuffs and the free shipping will surely attract more customers.