The Power of Free Shipping with 3dcart Ecommerce University

The Power of Free Shipping

“Free Shipping and Returns.” To a consumer, these words are equivalent to winning the “golden ticket.” To an online merchant though, free shipping represents Pandora’s box.

On a daily basis, countless merchants struggle with the free shipping question. Why offer free shipping when it will eat into their profit margins? Or maybe they should go on a limb and simply set a threshold? Maybe even offer it via a limited time promotion?

Many questions surround the implementation of free shipping, especially as shoppers continue to show an increasing resistance to shipping fees. As more and more online businesses offer free shipping around-the-year, the rest of the ecommerce community is left to ponder their decision.

Here are some important factors to consider when deciding whether or not to offer free shipping at your online store.

Nearly Half of All Orders Offer Free Shipping

47% of all online orders include free shipping – that’s nearly half! And if you calculate the odds, there’s a good chance your competitors are offering free shipping too.

So how does this affect you? By offering free shipping, you’re ensuring that your online business remains competitive in one of the most ruthless, promotion-saturated markets. Furthermore, 61% of consumers are at least somewhat likely to cancel their order if free shipping is not included, while 52% of all abandoned shopping carts are a result of shipping and handling costs. Can you really afford to lose these potential sales?

Free Shipping Increases Sales

Studies show that by offering free shipping, your sales can grow tremendously. The Wharton Report indicates that on average, shoppers spend 30% more when free shipping is included: the AOV for paid shipping orders is $86.58 while the AOV for free shipping orders is $125.20!

So what explains for the bump in AOV? Well, more than three quarters of shoppers will add items to their cart to qualify for free shipping. For many shoppers, finding themselves just a few dollars shy of the free shipping threshold is enough to send them back to your catalog, increasing their AOV.

Shoppers Prefer Free Shipping to % off Discounts

While it may seem more appealing to offer a flat discount or percentage off instead of free shipping, research indicates this is not what consumers want. The Wharton Report shows that “a free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing to many than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10.”

Furthermore, in a study of more than 100 million transactions, free shipping was two times more effective than a percentage off discount offered in an email.

And what are shoppers saying about all of this? In a survey by, shoppers were asked which factor would encourage them to buy more products from an online retailer. The findings showed that 93% requested free shipping and 67% stated free returns. These numbers indicate an extreme dissatisfaction with the overall online shopping marketplace.

OK, Free Shipping Works; Now What?

Are you finally ready to implement free shipping at your online store? There’s no need to go all in just yet. Try setting a free shipping threshold or testing out free shipping on a select number of products. You may also want to exclude free shipping on particular products, raise prices across the board to cover shipping costs, and/or implement a fulfillment center so that your products are closer to customers and consequently cheaper to ship.

You have a lot of options and solutions to consider, and while it may seem daunting, remember your overall goal: to increase sales! As you test the implementation of free shipping, use your results to fine-tune and adjust your future free shipping and returns policy.

But don’t fall behind in the free shipping game. Consumers will only continue to demand more, not less, so strategize your policies accordingly if you want to succeed in one of the most competitive markets.

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