How to Stay Profitable When You Can't Offer Free Shipping


I'm sure e-commerce owners everywhere have read the multitude of opinion pieces, blogs, and guides on how it's impossible to sell products online without offering free shipping.

Although free shipping can be a popular buyer decision-making tool for online shoppers, sometimes your profit margins just won't allow for it. But this is not the be all and end all.

Check out these tips to get around offering free shipping for your e-commerce store, without missing out on sales.

A Minimum Order Value for Free Shipping

Think about offering a minimum order value to your customers to qualify for free shipping. Not only does this keep your e-commerce business profitable, it's a great up-selling technique which can encourage your customers to spend more.

Fashion retailer, ASOS, offers free delivery when customers spend £35 or more. If you're a customer with £25 worth of products, why wouldn't you want to add another item to your basket rather than spend £4 on shipping?  

There are also customer expectations that they should receive free shipping if they have spent a certain amount. According to the National Retail Federation, 75% of customers expect free shipping if they've spent more than $50.

Incorporate the Shipping Fee into the Product Price  

Another online shipping technique is to incorporate the shipping fee and delivery costs into the price of your e-commerce products. This shipping option keeps your e-commerce business and your customers happy, as long as the prices don't suddenly dramatically increase.

This shipping option isn't suitable for all e-commerce stores, especially if you frequently ship internationally or sell large, bulky products.

Exclusive Delivery Subscriptions

Offer your frequent online shoppers an exclusive delivery subscription to get 'free' delivery all year. With a delivery subscription service, customers pay a flat monthly or yearly fee without needing to pay extra for delivery.

Established retailer, Next, offers a 'Next Unlimited' delivery pass subscription which costs £20 a year for unlimited free home delivery.

Varied Delivery Options

A huge 50% of abandoned carts can be attributed to a lack of delivery options. If you offer a good variety of delivery options at different price points there is something to fit every customer need.

Online shoppers are also likely to be more prepared to pay for convenient shipping options, such as nominated day delivery or same-day shipping.