Free Shipping for Small Business

How to Offer Free Shipping Without Losing Profits

9th July 2020, 1:01pm in Business by Eva Malpass
Amazon shipping

With eCommerce giants like Amazon offering Prime delivery and ASOS promoting shipping subscriptions, more and more customers have the expectation of free delivery for their favourite products.

'Free shipping' is probably the most popular of eCommerce shipping strategies as it can provide a huge advantage for small business - it can increase your average basket size, drive sales, and it's an effective marketing tool. Just keep in mind that 'Free Shipping' is only free for the customer, not for you.

Many businesses, however, overlook their shipping strategy as a marketing tool that can effectively offset product prices and increase overall basket value. But for lots of small businesses, offering free shipping can be very costly or impossible, to break even - but that's where a cost-effective shipping solution can help, but we'll get into that later.

First, let's look at how companies offer free shipping and how it can improve your business!

Why should eCommerce stores offer free shipping?

When customers reach the checkout crossroads, one of the biggest deciders to abandon cart is shipping charges. Creating a free shipping strategy plays against any fears of additional costs, and makes your store more attractive to customers. When used right, it also inevitably leads to:

  • Increased number of sales
  • Increased basket value per customer
  • Increased loyalty and customer retention

It goes without saying that every customer longs for free shipping over paid parcel delivery options - studies showing that small business free shipping increased eCommerce order value by 90%! Customers will feel more inclined to buy more when they know it's being sent straight to their doorstep for free. What a treat!

Creating a free shipping plan

Creating a free shipping plan

Shipping expenses are a fact of life for any online store, there's no getting around it - and to reiterate, free shipping is only free for the customer, not you! So finding a shipping solution that is affordable enough to offer free shipping periodically, without losing major profit margins, is essential.

Team up with Interparcel

At Interparcel we're proud to have helped many small businesses increase conversions rapidly through our parcel delivery services. Businesses have used our cost-effective courier services to know how to provide free shipping - keeping spending down and making it profitable!

Not only are our prices affordable, but our courier partners are the most reliable worldwide. Partnering with the likes of UPS, DPD, and Parcelforce, small businesses can offer customers free shipping with the best and most trusted couriers for both nationwide and international orders.

Our prices start from just £2.39 including VAT so users can provide free shipping on their eCommerce stores. And not to worry, our services integrate with all the major eCommerce platforms so you can easily manage any and all orders with ease. With us you can also benefit from:

  • Discounted prices - whether you're sending 1 or 200 there's savings to be made!
  • National Courier Brands - so you can mix & match who you use, all from our site
  • Smart boxing: set up defined product and box sizes for grouping big orders
  • In-built address collection and correction, no more manual errors
  • New branded tracking, create a seamless brand experience when customers track orders
  • Despatch orders in a few clicks and carry on selling!
  • The very best Customer Service. If you have any questions, our friendly UK call centre is here to help.

We know that even when lowering your costs with an affordable delivery provider, offering free shipping all the time is just not sustainable. No new brand can afford to ship orders internationally for free all the time, that would be mad! But there are a few ways you can tailor your strategy to make small business free shipping possible...

How can I offer free shipping 24/7?

Offering free shipping once in a while can be okay as increased sales will offset the profit losses on delivery costs, but offering it all the time will necessitate a few tailored techniques.

As a guide to offering free shipping, try creating some specifications for when customers can access it. For example, if:

  • They're a weekly/monthly subscriber
  • Their basket reaches a watershed limit
  • They buy a 'free shipping' designated product
  • Purchase within an allocated time period
  • They're a first-time customer

With these options, you can make sure that the overall basket price will be enough to offset the cost of shipping so you won't lose money. Test a few of them to see what works best for your business - you may find that offering free shipping on products you know cost less to send works best or that offering free shipping once a month gets the job done!

How do I promote free shipping?

Although selling on marketplaces like eBay or Etsy can offer low set-up costs and an already established customer pool, promoting store specific offers can be difficult. That's why creating an eCommerce store of your very own is so great!

Email marketing lists

Email list marketing

With website building helpers like Squarespace, Shopify, and WooCommerce, you can start to collate email marketing lists to create a direct communication channel between yourself and customers. This way you can advertise your stores unique 'limited time only free shipping'.

Using your mailing list to promote small business free shipping can also be useful in collecting addresses for later marketing opportunities. Ask customers to share with friends and family and make it so that each person must sign up to hear from you to access free shipping!

Social media

Everyone and their mother is on social media, usually on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. In fact, 66% of the entire UK is on social media as of now. Social media is a fantastic platform to start gaining followers and converting these followers to customers.

With a captive audience, running competitions, giveaways, and of course promoting free shipping is exactly the kind of content that easily convinces people to buy from your brand. To start, try:

  • Offering free shipping sent to their inbox when they like and share your Facebook page
  • Post on Instagram about free shipping on your website to increase traffic
  • Send a free shipping code to your Twitter followers, showing your brand has value and frequent deals!

Website banners

Free shipping website banners

Banners are very popular amongst eCommerce websites, reminding customers on every page that free shipping awaits at checkout, rose-colouring their slightly-higher-than-desired basket. These banners are a great idea to constantly signpost free shipping, the delivery date, and cutoff times when the offer is over.

It's also a great idea to include these details below or near each product and on category pages. This reinforces your offer for customers who are already looking to purchase. A great example of this is ASOS, where free shipping is referred to on almost every page.

Knowing how to provide free shipping can often be difficult for small businesses, as it can appear unattainable and unprofitable. But this isn't the case. When paired with a shipping solution that can cut costs and help your business flourish, free shipping can become a powerful selling tool.

At Interparcel we want all businesses to have access to parcel delivery services that can improve revenue and make free shipping work! If you have any questions about how we can help you or the services we offer, give our UK call centre a ring, email, or live chat message - our team of parcel experts are always happy to talk parcels and are available from 8 am - 8 pm Monday to Friday and 9 am - 1 pm on weekends!

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