Free Shipping Drives Online Shopping

Free shipping is a fast-emerging, welcome perk of online shopping. This is one feature that is most likely to encourage shoppers to purchase goods online. Today most online stores offer free shipping for all online purchases and returns, irrespective of how much customers spend. Previously, free shipping was offered only to those customers who shopped for a minimum amount or for those who purchased goods above a certain value. Free shipping was also offered when purchases were made under certain promotional schemes.

A survey, from e-commerce firm, reveals that 84% of consumers plan to shop online this season. With a view to improving the online shopping experience, successful retailers are using free shipping as the primary means to attract increasingly budget-conscious consumers. With growing consumer demand, merchants realize that the additional orders they gain by offering free shipping is expected to offset the initial loss of shouldering this cost.

Pay for shipping? No thanks!

The one thing that online shoppers dread is shipping costs. According to a study by Forrester Research, the No. 1 reason consumers are averse to online shopping is a lack of free shipping offers. The prohibitive costs of shipping force them to abandon their shopping carts and refrain from making online purchases.

One of the drawbacks of online shopping was the extra payment that had to be made as delivery costs. This drawback was further connected to the wait for the purchases to arrive. The standard shipping process delivers goods to customers’ doors three to five business days after the order is processed.

Shoppers who know in advance that they do not have to pay anything for delivery to their homes are more likely to buy things impulsively which they wouldn’t have previously looked at online. Therefore, free shipping is increasingly being adopted by retailers as a key purchasing motivator.

As more merchants jumped on the bandwagon, shoppers are now expecting free shipping and refuse to buy when no such deals are offered. However, small retail stores find it difficult to absorb the cost of free shipping.
With the holiday shopping season round the corner and as more consumers plan to buy merchandise online, retailers are banking on volume to offset shipping costs that they’ve absorbed.

The slow economy and with recessionary tendencies showing no signs of abating, online retailers have to consider any measure that will maintain or improve sales. Hence operational decisions based on free shipping have been resorted to by merchants driven by the realization that few factors elicit such a positive reaction from shoppers than this freebie.

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