In the last decade or so, customer service has transitioned from mostly phone calls to a multi-faceted department. Service agents now respond to phone calls, emails, live chats, and text messages.
In the last decade or so, customer service has transitioned from mostly phone calls to a multi-faceted department. Service agents now respond to phone calls, emails, live chats, and text messages.
While ecommerce free shipping used to be a luxury convenience, it has now become an expectation for modern shoppers. There are two types of free shipping offers: free shipping under certain circumstances (conditional free shipping) and across-the-board free shipping (unconditional free shipping).
Both offers can be costly—but they don’t have to hurt your bottom line.
We’ll take a closer look at each type of offer, and dive into ways to make them work for your store—no matter your margins or order volume. Plus, we’ll look at methods that can dramatically cut shipping costs across the board.
While offering free shipping on everything sounds great from a marketing perspective, it’s rarely a profitable idea for small businesses.
Here are five ways to equip your store with conditional free shipping offers:
Offering free shipping with a value threshold high enough to protect your profits is a simple way to avoid losing money on small transactions.
It’s also an effective way to encourage customers to buy more. BigCommerce’s 2019 Shipping Report Survey found that 84% of consumers have added an item to their cart just to meet a minimum order limit for free shipping.
Free shipping thresholds are usually easy-to-swallow values divisible by 5 or 10—like $25, $50, or $100. Your store’s limit needs to be high enough to ensure you’re not losing money, but low enough to be seen as an accessible promotion. So how do you find that sweet spot?
To find your zero-loss shipping threshold, you’ll need to use some of your store’s recent metrics in this calculation:
Free Shipping Threshold =
(Average Shipping Cost / Gross Profit Margin) + Average Order Value
The number you get is the lowest limit you can require for free shipping without those shipping costs eating into your bottom line.
Let’s say your store maintains an average order value of $60. It costs an average of $9.50 to ship each order, and your gross profit margin is 40%. The formula for a profitable free shipping threshold would be:
($9.50 / 0.40) + $60 = $83.75
To present shoppers with a simple and digestible number, this value would be rounded up to $85 or $90.
If this limit turns out to be too expensive to get much traction with your customer base, it can always be lowered at your own expense. Experiment with proposed minimum order thresholds by testing them out in this formula:
Free Shipping Cost =
Average Shipping Cost − ((Proposed Threshold − Average Order Value) × Gross Profit Margin)
If you could only bear to require a $75 minimum order with the same metrics from above, here’s what that test-calculation would look like:
$9.50 − (($75 − $60) × 0.40) = $3.50
So you would expect to be paying a maximum of $3.50 out of pocket for each order that ships free.
Most stores don’t make a high margin on every item they sell, and shipping costs can vary drastically depending on destination, size, and weight.
For example, even a high-end eyewear shop sells cart-stuffers like lens cleaners and microfiber cloths. Providing free shipping on an order of low-margin items like these alone could easily put you in the red.
So, another approach is to offer free shipping only on certain products. This works on items that have a low shipping cost and high enough markup to maintain profitability after shipping fees are factored in.
The ultimate goal of this campaign is to get items into shopping carts—whether they’re eligible for free shipping or not. The HSN promotion below advertises free shipping on a host of specific product categories, hoping to attract shoppers looking for a new laptop, kitchen appliance, or beauty product.
While it’s unlikely that every laptop in HSN’s shop is eligible for free shipping, those that are qualified will be presented to shoppers among other (and potentially better) ineligible devices—increasing the chance of a high-value sale either way.
Another option is creating a limited-time free shipping offer. We know from writing product descriptions that creating a sense of urgency is an effective way to drive sales, and the same concept applies to discounts or promotions.
Give customers free shipping during a holiday or to commemorate a current event. If you already offer free shipping on orders above a certain amount, lower the minimum threshold or get rid of it altogether.
The idea is to excite prospective buyers and turn window shoppers into paying customers. Promotional events work through getting the word out—so create an eye-catching post for your social media accounts, send a digital flyer to your email marketing list, or invest in some online advertisements.
Most carriers have a slow, low-cost shipping option—like USPS Parcel Post, which can be significantly cheaper than Priority Mail. To lose less money on free shipping, offer an economical delivery option for free.
At checkout, allow customers to upgrade to faster delivery by tacking the cost of shipping onto their total.
With this method, you’ll spend less on shipping while maintaining the allure of offering it for free—and many customers will happily pay for speedier shipping when they have the choice.
A simple way to offer free shipping on your Amazon orders is to partner with Fulfillment By Amazon.
Most FBA products automatically qualify for Prime shipping, which is both free and lightning-fast. Some 200 million users pay for a Prime subscription to get access to that amenity, so you’ll already have a hungry customer base.
This benefit comes along with the convenience of outsourced fulfillment. Plus, being part of the FBA program is a serious boost for Amazon sellers in other ways—including optimized search rankings and “buy-box” placement.
It should be noted that—while you won’t pay for shipping directly—FBA incurs a host of other fees. Check out our rundown of the service to determine if it’s right for your store.
Conditional free shipping is usually the best way for small businesses to get the promotional benefit without taking a detrimental loss. But, in some cases, it’s better to nix the conditions and offer unconditional free shipping across the board.
For many merchants, the resources to offer free shipping simply aren’t available. Luckily, there are other ways to remain competitive while still passing on the cost of transport to the buyer.
Lack of free shipping isn’t a deal breaker for many shoppers, but one thing is: unexpected costs.
The top reason for shopping cart abandonment is a surprise shipping fee at checkout. According to a 2021 study by The Baymard Institute illustrated below, extra costs are the reason behind a whopping 49% of abandoned orders.
The way to combat this is to be transparent with your prices. Be upfront with all shipping charges and clearly list any fees long before shoppers reach the checkout stage.
The easiest way around shipping fee sticker shock is, of course, to offer free shipping. But if that’s not feasible, here are three ways to charge shipping fees in a shopper-friendly manner:
Flat-rate shipping refers to a single, standardized fee that customers pay to ship their orders, regardless of variables like destination or size.
When you can’t make free shipping work, flat-rate fees are the next-best thing for two main reasons:
Displaying something like “$4.99 shipping on all orders” visibly on your site header lets buyers know what they’re getting into. It’s easy for them to do the math and eliminates sticker shock at checkout.
As long as you display the flat-rate shipping fee throughout your site, customers will be satisfied and abandon fewer shopping carts.
If shipping costs the same for a $5 order as it does a $50 order, shoppers often perceive the latter as a better deal.
A famous case of this occurrence dates back to 2016 when supplement retailer GNC changed to a flat-rate shipping model. Although the company has since transitioned to other shipping models, its research showed that consumers would spend more just to make the flat-rate shipping costs “worth it” —and sales panned out nicely.
There are some potential downsides to flat-rate shipping. For one, it can discourage small orders: Shoppers are unlikely to pay a $5 shipping fee if their original total comes anywhere close to that same value.
If your store can bear to lose a percentage of low-value orders coming in, flat-rate shipping is an effective model.
Another consideration is that you’ll likely still need to cover a portion of the shipping costs. Flat rates must be low to make them attractive, and shipping costs can vary dramatically from order to order. Be sure to pick your flat rate wisely to avoid the difference drawing too much from your bottom line.
If you can’t absorb the cost of free shipping or the potential difference left over after a flat-rate fee, you can always charge the actual cost of shipping an order.
Keep in mind this isn’t a great strategy for products with lots of competition. This tactic is best for hard-to-find products, sought-after brands, or handmade goods. In cases when shoppers are willing to pay for exclusivity, shipping fees aren’t a barrier—just make sure that shipping charges are clear every step of the way.
The easiest way to do this is with a shipping calculator, which most ecommerce platforms provide. The upside is you won’t lose any profit on shipping, but you’ll likely see higher rates of shopping cart abandonment than with other models.
This method of charging for shipping is a popular tactic, but it’s not the wisest choice for ecommerce stores.
It’s the type of pricing manipulation commonly seen on TV infomercials: The product price is irresistibly low—often at or below wholesale cost—but the customer pays an inflated shipping and handling fee to make up for the deficit.
The lofty shipping fee isn’t disclosed until the checkout process is well underway, which is what makes this method work in certain sales channels.
Looking back at the shopping cart abandonment statistics presented above, these surprise checkout fees run the risk of causing online shoppers to ditch their orders altogether. Because of this, we recommend considering other options for managing your shipping costs.
No matter how you model your shipping promotions, it’s always crucial to keep a sharp eye on costs.
It’s particularly important to save every penny if you offer free shipping—especially on mid- and low-margin products. If you don’t ship every order at the lowest possible shipping rate, you’re essentially leaking profits.
Here are two ways to make sure you pay the most manageable rates on every order you ship:
If you don’t use shipping rate comparison software, you’re spending more than you need to—it’s that simple. Most programs, like ShippingEasy, provide a variety of shipping options at discounted rates, thanks to longstanding partnerships with carrier companies.
Even sellers shipping identical packages, like subscription boxes, can save by comparing rates among carriers (since some are cheaper than others when shipping to specific locations). And if you ship a variety of package sizes and weights daily, shipping comparison software is essential.
The cost for shipping software varies based on provider and service package, but it’s an incredibly affordable tool. Plans with ShippingEasy start at $5/month for low-volume sellers. Even at 3,000+ shipments per month, you’ll only be paying 2 cents per order you send. The discounts provided by ShippingEasy go well beyond covering that cost.
Using an order fulfillment company to handle your storage, packing, and shipping is beneficial in many ways, but especially when it comes to shipping costs.
These third-party providers ship massive volumes of packages, which earns them deeply discounted rates from the carriers they use. Most fulfillment companies pass these savings on to their clients in order to remain competitive.
This advantage is one of the most popular reasons small sellers use fulfillment services to ship their orders.
I did an in-depth breakdown of the savings from outsourcing fulfillment—the monthly cost of shipping alone was $500 less when partnered with ShipBob, the top provider in our order fulfillment company buyer’s guide, and total savings for our case-study example were $15,408 per year.
Plus, outsourced fulfillment frees up a huge amount of time that can be redirected to more profitable areas—like marketing, product sourcing, or business development.
Free shipping is a great marketing tool to drive sales and reduce cart abandonment—and in the modern ecommerce landscape, it’s often a necessity. According to a recent survey, 50% of shoppers reported that they completely avoid retailers who don’t offer free shipping, and another 77% stated that they have abandoned an order due to unsatisfactory shipping options.
Most small sellers combine conditional free shipping with tight shipping cost-controls to create a program that works.
If free shipping doesn’t fit your profit model, there are other shopper-friendly ways to charge a shipping fee. However you approach your ecommerce shipping strategy, being transparent matters just as much as the amount you charge the customer.
To keep operations simple and shipping costs low, we recommend partnering with a third-party fulfillment provider for your online orders. ShipBob specializes in working with startups and small businesses to provide virtually-free pick & pack, deeply discounted shipping, and 99.95% order accuracy.
This method leverages the power of the word “free” to drive sales. The cost of transport is added into each item’s price point— increasing product prices so that the customer covers the cost of shipping without having to think about it.
The truth is that customers often prioritize access to free shipping over the standard price of an item. The perceived value of free shipping is often much greater than economical—or even discounted—pricing thanks to the nature of shoppers (and humans in general) to irrationally value free things.
Similarly, the perceived value of an item itself is highly influenced by how much it costs. Expensive goods are widely regarded as “better,” so simply tweaking the price of a product can increase customer attraction.
Combining both of these perspectives, buyers are more inclined to go for a $50 item with free shipping than the same item for $40 with $10 shipping.
Adjust your pricing storewide based on average order value, average number of items per order, and average shipping cost. Then advertise the enticing convenience of always-free shipping on every oCompetitive Ways to Charge for Shipping
Putting an effective ecommerce shipping strategy in place is one of the most impactful steps you can take to grow your business online.
While many brands start out in ecommerce by taking a simplistic approach to shipping — like offering free shipping across the board or showing unmodified UPS or USPS rates — the most successful merchants use strategic shipping options to differentiate themselves from their competition and increase margins.
Of course, while shipping can be a powerful point of differentiation for your brand, it’s important to make sure that your company can actually act on the strategy.
This requires coordination between multiple teams within your organization, all the way from your marketing team to your fulfillment team — and several others in between.
Establishing a shipping strategy for your online store lets you ensure that everyone involved in this pipeline knows what’s going on and their part in the process.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the absolute must-haves and must-knows for a solid ecommerce shipping strategy that makes both your margins and your customers happy.
Let’s dive in.
Identifying the right people to help make this decision for your business is the first step.
This requires that you bring into the conversation the right stakeholders within your organization.
Here’s a quick breakdown on how to think through the process and pull in the appropriate stakeholders.
Once you’ve identified the key teams in your company who will need to be involved in establishing your strategy, you need to define what you want to accomplish with your ecommerce shipping strategy.
There are many areas of focus here, but the most typical are these.
Once you’ve identified the right team and goals for your business, it’s time to get down to the work of choosing a strategy that is going to work for your team to accomplish the goals you’ve set.
We’ll identify a number of available strategies here with the pros and cons for each.
None of these are exclusive of one another and most successful online store will implement several of these options to form a complete strategy for your unique scenario.
First and foremost, though, as the ecommerce manager or project owner for shipping strategies, you need to approach the business understanding key elements of the shipping industry.
Here are the crucial considerations you must take into account.
From the hundreds of surveys, polls and studies published each year on ecommerce, one thing is clear:
Offering the right shipping rates and options to your customers is crucial to your success as a retailer.
Getting this piece right can make the difference between losing a customer if you charge too much and losing your shirt if you charge too little.
And it’s not just cost that makes a difference. Offering the right shipping options to your customers at the right times plays a critical role in reducing cart abandonment and increasing revenue.
Taking full control of your online store’s shipping means that you can offer the lowest shipping rates possible, still cover your costs, and offer the options your customers want.
Here’s a quick list on how to properly think through what you can offer, including when and why, to maximize sales and decrease costs.
The most important factors to consider when taking control of your shipping can be broken down into three areas.
The first of these, product size and weight, is often the easiest to get your head around and has the biggest impact on the approach you take.
If your products are relatively uniform, then going with a per-item, zone-based approach, where the shipping price varies by your customer’s location and not by product size or weight, works well.
This is also a great place to build easy to understand promotions like $10 shipping per order, $5 shipping per item or even free shipping over $50.
For retailers with varying sizes and weights among your product set, getting rates directly from a carrier like UPS, DHL, Australia Post or others is a great way to ensure the rates you’re offering to your customers are the best possible ones.
The important thing to focus on here is making sure your products have accurate weights and dimensions so that the rate you get back from a carrier is as accurate as possible.
To do this, break your products into groups and focus on getting product weights and dimensions for the heaviest or largest 20% and smallest or lightest 20%.
This will have the biggest effect on your shipping rates and offer the best return on investment.
Shipping destinations can be just as crucial as product dimensions and weight.
Again, in a simpler scenario like domestic shipping, a flat-rate or free shipping option works well.
To step it up a bit, set rates based on zones. For example, if you’re located in New York, offer a cheaper rate for the mid-Atlantic region and increase the rate as you radiate out from there.
Shipping internationally normally necessitates getting a rate straight from a carrier like the USPS, DHL or others. Rates can vary significantly even in neighboring countries and it’s difficult to build your own rates for these scenarios.
Managing your shipping options allows you to delight customers and keep costs in check.
Look beyond the big-name carriers and you’ll find a world of opportunity to offer same-day delivery, next-day delivery or timely and cost-effective delivery for even the largest items.
In major cities, you’ll often find local delivery and courier companies that will deliver more quickly to your customers than the big carriers at very competitive rates.
Pro Tip for B2B
If you’re shipping especially large items or do a lot of large B2B shipments, using an LTL (Less Than Truckload) freight carrier becomes a necessity.
Local couriers often don’t offer a way to fetch rates in real time for shipments, but it can be worth your while to build up a table of rates based on number of items or weight in order to offer these options to your customers.
The important thing when looking at any alternate ecommerce delivery option is to make sure that you control when and where it’s shown.
Taking control of your online store’s shipping ensures that you aren’t leaving money on the table or risking your success by charging too little. Even small changes here can pay enormous dividends in cart conversion, controlling shipping costs and delighting customers.
Now that you have all of this considered, you’re ready to face the gamut of questions and potential push back from other teams.
Here are your shipping options and strategies available.
Free shipping may seem like the simplest strategy and it’s grown massively in popularity since Amazon introduced free shipping for orders over $25.
Of course, free shipping may be free to your customers — but not to you.
You’ll still need to pay the carrier and you’ll have to make sure you’re making enough on each order to cover the associated shipping costs.
This is why you’ll see that most companies (Amazon included) only offer free shipping over a certain price point and only on specific products.
If you choose to offer free shipping, it’s vitally important to understand its impact on your bottom line. Even if you’re making more sales, if you’re losing money on each one it’s of no benefit to your bottom line.
The most effective approach to free shipping is to only offer it for orders where you know you’re making enough on the sale to cover shipping and still make a profit.
This means setting a free shipping order subtotal threshold that makes sense for your business and, maybe, excluding products that are too heavy or bulky for you to offer free shipping on.
We’ll dive more into exactly how it implement free shipping for your business later in this article, if that is the route your team chooses.
One extremely effective way to avoid some of the challenges of free shipping is to go the flat rate or table-rate route.
Table-rate shipping is a bit more complex, but doesn’t have to be much more so.
Customers in certain regions, like the United Kingdom, prefer table-rate shipping versus being charged a live rate. For example, a merchant with a warehouse in London might charge customers near the city a certain amount, say £5 per order, with rates going up to £10, £15, etc. as you get further away from the fulfillment center.
You might also charge based on the order subtotal ($10 for orders up to $50 in value, $5 for orders up to $100, and free for orders over $100). Alternately, you might charge a different rate for certain groups of products or set rates based on the order weight.
If the most important factor for you is to offer the best possible rate while still covering your costs, getting live rates in real-time directly from a carrier like UPS, FedEx or DHL may be the best way to go.
While it’s harder to use this approach as a promotional tool (the rates may vary significantly depending on what the customer orders and the distance from your warehouses to the customer), you can ensure that you’re offering the cheapest possible shipping option by charging your customer exactly what you’ll be charged by the carrier.
Especially if you’re in a market where many of your competitors are offering live rates, it may be important to do so.
This means that for lightweight orders or customers located near your warehouses, you can often offer significantly cheaper shipping than your competition while still making sure your costs are covered.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be as simple as plugging into a carrier like UPS and showing exactly what UPS returns for each order.
You can add a surcharge if you want the shipping charge to cover things like packaging and your cost of fulfillment. You can also discount the rate returned to be that much more competitive over others in your market.
While these three options are the most popular and frequently used, thinking outside the box and mixing and matching these approaches can be extremely effective.
This allows you to balance your revenue needs with promotional opportunities.
For example, offer free standard shipping (with no delivery commitment or a range commitment like 5-10 business days for delivery) alongside other options like Expedited shipping (for example, 3-5 day delivery at a table rate based on order value) and live rate options for Second Day and Overnight delivery.
Here’s are a few great options.
In addition to these most popular approaches, offering additional, less orthodox options can help you stand out from the crowd.
For example, free in-store pickup can drive customers to your retail locations (resulting in additional traffic and sales at your brick-and-mortar locations).
If you’re selling particularly large or heavy items, offering LTL freight delivery on your website can help keep costs down while making it easier for customers to place larger orders online.
There is no doubt about it, free shipping is the holy grail of online commerce. You only need to look at Amazon Prime to see this.
Amazon net shipping costs were more than $1 billion per quarter in 2014. They chose to subsidize shipping heavily as part of their growth strategy — very heavily in my opinion.
Pitney Bowes’ 2015 Holiday Shipping Survey is still a relevant read for those working on their shipping strategies. Here are some of the more relevant and poignant points:
Given all of these data points, what’s interesting is that only 22% of merchants feature information about their shipping policy on their homepage.
My advice — go fix that.
So, if 9 out of 10 of your customers are considering this, as the data suggests, then you need:
But, here is the issue: how exactly does a merchant make money in this scenario?
Free shipping, particularly in the U.S. and Australia, is very hard to do — and Amazon is proof that businesses need a pretty big financial reserve to make it work.
At ShipperHQ, we have dealt with merchants facing this conundrum for a number of years, and we have seen a number of solutions to the problem.
We have assisted many thousands of merchants in their setup, so let me share with you my recommendations on how to tackle this issue.
Here are the top considerations when trying to decide if offering free shipping benefits is right for your brand.
As a merchant, you need to think about your market sector, your competition and the space in which you play.
You might not need free shipping.
This is especially true in the B2B ecommerce space, where it might be more important that a wholesale selling platform provides accurate dimensional-based pricing.
If you have customers that are loyal to you, they will appreciate you passing on your negotiated rates to them and giving them the choice over urgency of delivery.
If you are competing based on product price, then it may be that you have no ability to absorb free shipping costs.
It’s all about information accuracy, and using multiple carriers where required so you can offer the best and cheapest service.
This plays into my comments above. You need to decide whether shipping is part of your costs of goods sold, or whether it’s a marketing expense.
Or, maybe it’s a combination of both.
Do free shipping and related shipping promotions drive your sales up enough that you can justify it partly as a marketing expense?
As a starter, I’d say in the U.S. you should limit free shipping to the U.S. 48 contiguous states.
Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico — sorry, you are out of luck. People in those places expect to pay extra for shipping.
APOs and P.O. boxes are other areas for which you can switch off free shipping. If you take a look at Jet.com they follow this policy. Copy it.
We know how this works.
Amazon is the master of this. They will purposely hold the shipment back for a few days if it’s free — and how frustrating is that!
The reasoning is that, by this point, we are committed to the sale. We’ll then think, “Oh, another $10 bucks and I could get this faster.”
This where your opportunity lies: surcharge the expedited.
There will be a segment of customers (especially as the holidays get closer) that will pay extra to get it faster. This surcharge can offset the free shipping you are offering to other customers.
Some merchants want to look at every single order and ensure they make a profit.
In some cases that’s necessary. But I’d say in most cases, taking a monthly view is a better option.
You win some, you lose some. It’s an iterative process.
You should understand your shipping rules and be able to correlate what’s happening with your charges against your own policy.
At the end of the month — are you happy with the results?
People are becoming more and more impatient. And, more and more used to having readily available information.
For example, I order a pushchair from Europe. Just when is it going to arrive?
Having that estimated number of delivery days, or an expected delivery date, is becoming more important.
Once you have that, you can then have more leverage around upselling faster services.
It’s my belief that offering “Next Day Delivery” with no actual information about whether that means tomorrow or next week will soon be a thing of the past.
People are much less tolerant now, and they have greater choice to shop elsewhere.
Try pushing up your minimum order price to qualify for free shipping. Does it affect sales? Maybe.
Run an A/B test to see what the impact is.
You can advertise free shipping on your site, but qualify that it only applies on your small goods, a certain category, or maybe you want to just offer it on your big ticket items.
We all love a promotion. Does it need to be free shipping? I don’t believe it always does.
Maybe you publish list rates for UPS, but then offer 20% shipping discount to your returning customers via an email campaign.
Or, just charge shipping on the highest value goods.
For example, if I buy a kayak, I might pay shipping for that, but any other goods in the store ship for free.
There are many, many combinations you can do here, which give customers rewards and encourage a higher dollar price.
Now that you’ve started thinking about all of this, you may be wondering how you can achieve it.
We have your ecommerce shipping solution: ShipperHQ.com.
It’s the most advanced shipping rate calculator and manipulation platform in the world and is all about the rating.
Most shipping software out there will focus on that label, the last mile, first mile and all around shipping fulfillment. But they don’t care about the customer experience, and frankly they should, because that’s where it all starts.
At ShipperHQ, we do care. We put the merchant front and center. There is no right solution here — it’s merchant specific. With knowledge and the right partner, you can achieve what you need for your store.
Shipping is pretty interesting, and it should be a big part of your online strategy. Remember though: it’s your cart, your shipping and your rules. Be agile, learn, improve and iterate.
Cross-border ecommerce is seeing huge growth.
Now, how do you bring those customers back to your site to purchase once you’ve determined demand?
Many online stores find shipping items internationally nearly impossible given the regulations, rules and risks associated with each country.
To overcome that initial fear of international shipping, it is important to know what shipping options and fulfillment services provide low costs and risk.
Once you have a clear understanding of how international shipping works, and you’ve researched the services that best fit your company and put an international shipping strategy in place, you will be able to open your online storefront to a global audience and break into the global market.
Here are the top considerations you must go through before you launch an international shipping strategy.
Shipping internationally opens your market to a potential three billion consumers. But, before you build your international shipping strategy, you should determine if it is right for you.
You don’t want to put time, effort and money into this if you aren’t going to come out with profit.
Here are a few things that come into play with international ecommerce shipping.
Know what it takes to ship your products out of the country — or if those products are even suitable for such long distance shipping. Ideally, you ship items that are sturdy and compact to avoid an item breaking in transit, which can leave a bad customer impression.
If you are shipping perishable goods or large items, you may want to keep these items solely available to your domestic customers.
It is also important to be aware of any import and/or export restrictions subjected to the product and specific countries. Here’s a short list of items prohibited from international shipping:
This should not stop you from shipping internationally, though, and we’ll go over how you can restrict items from shipping to certain destinations in a bit.
Do the research! It is pretty easy to determine if there is demand for your product if you have already had requests from international customers.
But, if you don’t have the luxury of knowing who already wants your products, you should look into what is currently being offered in countries you want to ship to. Try to find out if there are similar products being sold and what the competitors are doing.
In the same way you’ve built your national audience, you’ll want to access the competition and get your goods in front of your target audience.
But, international consumers shop differently than you are used to.
In Asia, for instance, Rakuten outpaces Amazon. If your goods sell well in the U.S. on Amazon, consider placing your product on Rakuten to test out market fit and demand.
Here are larger international marketplaces to keep your eye on as you expand. These are great places to test out your product offering before launching a site-wide campaign targeted to international customers.
Determining the best way to ship internationally comes with its own obstacles and you should do your research before opening your gate to the world.
Some important factors such as shipping costs, tracking, delivery times and guarantees will come into play when you are looking into services.
One service does not fit all. Know what international shipping service is the best fit for you and your customers’ needs.
Here is what to think through when identifying the best international shipping solution for your business.
This could be a good choice for smaller companies because you will have the backing of a large company such as UPS, FedEx and DHL. These companies have years of experience in shipping both internationally and domestically.
With international carriers you will experience a higher level of international shipping services as they offer door-to-door tracking and guarantees in pricing.
Since they are a larger company, their prices tend to start out higher, but there are options for negotiation.
This is the in-between option of international carriers and international freight forwarders.
National carriers, such as USPS, Australia Post and Canada Post, focus on servicing a specific country.
These companies normally offer lower prices than international carriers but you won’t have the detailed door-to-door tracking that you will find with the other carrier services.
An international freight forwarder manages your shipment from beginning to end.
This is a good option for merchants with a larger shipping budget as the prices are slightly higher than international and national carriers.
This service will make breaking into the global market a little easier, and is is just about as simple as if you were shipping domestically. You send the package to the international freight forwarder’s hub and they take care of preparing and processing customs and other documentation involved in shipping internationally.
The following international freight forwarders (or 3PLs) are considered best-in-class, with the highest number of customers and revenue.
No matter what route you take when choosing a service for your international shipments, it helps to know some of the terminology so you can have educated conversations with carriers.
Here are some key terms you should know to ensure you keep your new global customers satisfied and avoid any unwanted surprises — for you or your customer.
Each of your products will have a harmonized tariff code which is required when preparing your commercial documents. This code indicates the description of the product and is legally required in many countries.
If you fail to put the correct code for a product, your shipment can be delayed or could result in higher duty and taxes. If you are unsure what code goes with a certain product, you can use the HTS search here to figure it out.
You will be required to complete documents for your international shipments. The set of documents you need to complete are dependent on the details of your shipment.
These documents include:
Duties and taxes are imposed by the country importing the shipment to generate revenue and protect local industries against foreign competition.
These are usually paid before the goods are released from customs and are based on product value, trade agreements, country of manufacture, use of the product and the product’s harmonized system code.
These fees can be paid by the customer (delivery duty unpaid), or the merchant (delivery duty paid). It is important to know the difference between the two before you make your first shipment as you don’t want to unknowingly leave your customer with additional fees when they receive their package.
You may find that some of your products are legally restricted from being imported to certain countries or it can even be illegal to export the product from your country.
You wouldn’t believe some of the items we have found to be restricted from certain locations!
It is important to remember that customs has the right to stop the shipment of any package.
Don’t let this scare you off from breaking into the global market. You will just need to make sure you take these restrictions into account when you begin strategizing the shipping methods and options you want to use.
You can carry out these restrictions by using options embedded into your platform.
For instance, use customer groups to allow shoppers from various countries to buy only those products you know you can export.
This gives you more control over the product offerings you display for those groups –– and allows you to collect email addresses to better market to that segment.
For a more sophisticated option, look into using a shipping rate management software such as ShipperHQ. These programs will automatically take into account a customer’s final shipping destination and alert them to issues with any items in their cart based on their location, or updated shipping prices (including DDU, if applicable) on the checkout page.
Either way, you will need to have the ability to enable restrictions for products based on origin and destination of shipments in order to scale your international selling.
In all, breaking into the global market can seem a bit overwhelming, but once you take the leap, you’ll open your business up to a larger purchasing audience, significantly increasing your sales and revenue.
There is a whole world out there potentially searching for your products. With a few steps and a smart strategy, you can be there to answer their search.
With the right team in place, your goals clearly defined, and your approach or approaches chosen, it’s time to implement your ecommerce shipping strategy.
Each team member or team leader should be clear on their responsibilities. You don’t have to do everything all at once, but everyone should be clear on their duties each step of the way.
You aren’t alone when it comes to shipping hassles. You also aren’t alone when it comes to finding the right solutions. There are plenty of them. There are businesses that dedicate their entire staff to helping you figure out how to ship faster and more affordably.
Each of these solutions helps with a variety of things, but most offer:
Here are a few of the top ecommerce shipping solutions:
Once your new approach is live, make it the responsibility of each team to report on how well things are going for them.
Often, a new approach will take some time to nail down, so if you have the evidence to back up your changes, be prepared to stick with it and make some adjustments as you go.
Pre-requisites to create coupon codes for your WordPress site:
Suppose your online store’s anniversary is later in November. Now you want to celebrate this moment with your users by offering a discounted coupon code. Using this code first 200 customers will get a 50% discount on every product purchase for the entire month.
Let’s go through the steps-
First, navigate to the Marketing→ Coupons→ Add coupon.
The opening screen will show you the Coupon code name & Description fields. Give a coupon title and add a description so that the user can understand how to use it or the benefits.
Slightly scroll down to the coupon data. Configure the setting options to run your coupon codes smoothly. Here you find 3 options in the left menu:
Here you can configure some initial settings about coupons. Select the discount type, amount, tick mark free shipping or make it available, and coupon expiry date.
There are three types of discounts you can use for your coupon:
Now enter the coupon discount amount that you want to offer:
The same process for all other discount types. You can allow the free shipping or keep it unchecked if you don’t want your users to avail of the free shipping facility. Lastly, add an expiry date so that customers could notice the coupon on the website.
Under the General tab, you’ll find the User restriction section. Here you can configure more settings of your coupon:
Depending on the data you will put into these fields, your coupon will work. So once you have filled out the above-mentioned fields, move on to the next section.
Under the restriction section, you’ll find User limits. It lets you define the number of times a person can have permission to use WooCommerce coupons. The same thing goes for the limit on the number of products.
Once you’re done with the rune, all the coupon settings will be applied according to your setup. However, you can apply the same process for all discount coupon types.
We already know that you can define three types of discounts for your coupon. So, we’re showing how (%) percentage discounts work on a coupon code for certain products/categories/carts.
Back to the discount that we’re intending to create. It’s about your online store’s anniversary where you want to give a 50% discount for the first 200 users.
The rest of the settings are almost the same. Just set the usage limit per user to 2 (depends on how many times you want users to apply this coupon)
Now hit the published button to make the coupon live on your store.
As a customer navigate to the store and select any of the products. Once you add the product to your cart, now apply the coupon code Anniversary2021 on the apply coupon field.
It will automatically cut the 50% discount from the total amount.
This is how you can customize coupon codes for your online store. However, if you want to get a detailed idea to apply all the techniques to your coupon, you can check out how to use coupons for better outcomes from here.
Above we’ve created coupons for a WooCommerce single store. Now we’ll show you how you can allow your marketplace vendors to create coupons for their customers. You can use Dokan multivendor marketplace solution for this purpose.
Dokan helps your vendors to manage their own coupons right on their dashboard. As an admin, you just need to configure the settings from the backend. Here you can create coupons and apply them to any specific vendors, products. Or exclude vendors, products as well.
Pre-requisites to create coupon codes for your multivendor marketplace:
To get started with Dokan, first install it and then activate the plugin on your site. Here is our official documentation to learn how to install Dokan on a WordPress site.
Here are the steps to create a coupon for vendors:
After installing Dokan navigate to that same coupon page and this time you’ll get an extra section called – Vendor limits.
Once you click on the section, you’ll get some options:
Let’s fill out the blank areas with relevant options. Once you’re done click on the update button to make it live on the vendor store.
Important Note: After the admin adds the coupon, vendors will get all the updated news in the announcement section. To get there, navigate to Dokan→ Announcement
This is how an admin can create a coupon for vendors. If you want to know how it will work for vendors and customers check our official documentation on how to create coupons for vendors.
How to add a coupon code to WooCommerce?
Ans: To create a coupon, simply click WooCommerce > Coupons from within the WordPress dashboard. Go ahead and create your first coupon by selecting Add Coupon. How to create multiple coupon codes in WooCommerce?
Ans: To create multiple coupons in WooCommerce, here are the steps that you can follow:
01. Upload the folder WooCommerce-coupon-generator to the /wp-content/plugins/` directory.
02. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress.
03. Go to the generation page and start generating
How to sell coupons on WooCommerce?
Ans: To sell coupons on WooCommerce, follow these steps:
01. Go to WooCommerce > Coupons
02. Create/add a new coupon
03. Give it a title, i.e., GenerateCalledStoreCredit
04. Select Store Credit/Gift Certificate as Discount type
05. Enable Coupon Value Same as Product’s Price?
06. Enter Prefix/Suffix (optional) and other details as required
07. SaveHow to duplicate a WooCommerce coupon?
Ans: To duplicate a WooCommerce coupon, here is how you can do that:
01: Install the WP Sheet Editor Coupons spreadsheet
02: Open the “Duplicate” tool
03: Duplicate your coupon
How to add a percentage discount in WooCommerce?
Ans: To do that navigate to WooCommerce > Woo Discount Rules -> Add New Rule. Next, in the filter section, select “All Products” as it is a storewide discount. In the discount section, Choose the Discount Type as “Percentage discount” and enter the discount value as 20%.
Creating coupons for an online store is an easy method for increasing store sales and profit perimeters. Just keep in mind, coupon marketing strategies perform splendidly if your coupon management system is remarkable. Also, be careful while sending promotional emails to random audiences. It could create a bad impact if it’s being utilized wrongly. So there is a high chance that users might find other shops to purchase products.
Hence, sincerely follow the tutorial part step-by-step. Plus, if you’re running a marketplace, Dokan helps you earn a handsome commission over each purchase by the customers.
So are you ready to utilize Dokan’s features & modules?
For any further concerns, please feel free to share them with us in the comments below.
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You know limited-time offers can do this magic by booming the sense of urgency. It gives online buyers a compelling reason to make immediate purchases on your eCommerce shop.
Knowing the fact, online marketers often trigger buyers’ fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) and combine it with scarcity marketing. But unfortunately, not all marketers can utilize this marketing strategy in the right way.
Here we demonstrated 7-effective ways to write your discount offers for a limited time period with real-life examples. You’ll end up having plenty of ideas for your next sale- it’s a promise!
A limited-time offer is any type of special deals such as free shipping, discount coupon, free gift, or reward which is available for a certain time period. These offers can come in different forms such as ads, popups, email campaigns, website banners, etc.
Ecommerce marketers designed these sale campaigns based on the principles of scarcity and urgency. It creates a kind of anxiety among the site visitors. People truly believe that the offer is available only for a short time period. And they are afraid to miss out on a good deal.
Yes, it works. This type of promotion makes people feel unique, special, and realize they have access to something valuable and exclusive.
Besides, a large number of online buyers admitted that they are more likely to buy a product if it is on sale. People are getting more interested to jump right into offers if it is available for a limited time period. After all, when you bound an offer by time or availability it becomes more attractive for the buyers.
You can also use the power of a “limited time offer” for your online shop. It helps you to turn your one-time browsers into loyal customers. But remember giving so many choices can overwhelm your customers. That may lead to fewer sales. So, optimize your campaign copy with the right words and relevant designs.
Let’s learn how to write a discount offer for a limited time in a simple yet effective way-
There are many ways to make your visitors feel the time is running out. But it’s not so easy to motivate people to act in the way you want.
Below, we describe some useful tactics with examples for crafting successful LTO campaigns.
You may use these tips while planning for your next deal thus you can onboard potential customers as much as possible-
High-quality products or services are no longer enough for modern consumers. Rather than the quality now they are mostly influenced by the experience provided by the company.
According to a study of PwC- 42% of customers would happily pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. On the other hand, 32% of people claimed that they would walk away from a brand after just one bad experience.
Considering these numbers, you should make your offers beneficial for your buyers at the same time keep them unique from your competitors.
Think first “What makes your deal different?”
It could be the first time you offer something big or provide some exclusive gifts with the deal. Highlight the SPECIALTY to attract your audience.
After becoming a big family of 50k members, HappyAddons arranged a grand event for their users. By following some easy steps participants can win thousand of gifts worth more than $35,000 including 1 iPad. It was a unique idea that created a huge buzz in the industry at that time. Moreover, the offer was valid for a limited time period that encouraged people to enroll instantly.
This is a perfect example of being one step ahead of your competitors!
If you don’t mention any time or date for your offer then it may create misconceptions among the visitors. They can imagine that the offer might be available for the next day or week. It opposes the main concept of Limited Time Offer.
In that case, you can trigger a sense of urgency by including strict deadlines in your campaign. In contrast, when you allow your audience time to think, they’ll delay in making a decision. And if this delay takes a long time they might not make a purchase at all!
A large British supermarket- Sainsbury used this principle to boost their sales. They announced a discount but also emphasized the ending date with bright colors. So, customers can feel the urgency to get a 33% discount, they have to buy soon.
You can use these types of phrases in the copy to manipulate your prospects-
Take an example from Victoria’s Secret. During Semi-Annual Sale, they offered Free Shipping to encourage the site visitors to spend at least $25 on their site. Wrapped with a deadline “Last Day”, so people get hurry to grab the deal.
Also, you can introduce a ticking clock to count down the minutes and seconds to the deadline. It’ll really ratchet up the tension and encourage visitors to take quick decisions.
It becomes a tradition for eCommerce shop owners to offer special discounts on big days. Because this is the time when people are more likely to buy gifts for their beloved ones or themselves.
However, these orders are time-sensitive and need to arrive by a particular date. You can grab the chance and run effective promotions for special occasions by reminding them of the delivery deadline.
Here is an example of a Holiday sale offering Free Shopping for a particular time period-
The Blue Nile, a renowned jewelry company gives a strict deadline for product delivery at Christmas. So people can feel the urgency for Christmas shopping with the assurance to get the products on time.
Holidays’ offers are not anymore limited to only Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year. Now online sellers also provide special discounts on Women’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. as well.
Take another example from Pampers. They offer their target customers Mother’s Day coupons they can redeem at partner stores.
In addition, you can offer free gift-wrapping or the option to attach a special note with the gifts. It adds a sentimental value to the recipient and influences them to purchase in your shop.
A common psychological phenomenon of humans is they value more those things that are less available to them. You can imply this tactic for your limited-time promotions.
Instead of showing the total stock of a product, you can focus your customers’ attention on the remaining quantity of that product. When a buyer sees that his/her desired product is near selling out, it’s just one more reason to make a purchase immediately.
Check out this example from a home supplies retailer, Ozbo:
Add a phrase like “Only X more left in stock” right on the product page or shopping cart. The closer the number gets to 0, their the urgency grows higher. Applying this strategy ensures that buyers not only act fast but remain interested in your product even when it’s not available.
An online fashion boutique, Modnique displays a message “last one left”. So that customers can feel the urgency to add the item to their carts.
Sparkfun Electronics uses the same approach on their cart page to decrease the cart abandon rate:
However, you can also notify people about limited stock availability through emails and inform them again when items return in stock.
Let’s forward to the next step of how to write a discount offer that can reduce the eCommerce cart abandonment rate.
Instead of using a common text like “Click Now” “Act Fast” you can use something interesting and creative for your action points.
These action words will make your copy stand out from the crowd-
Effective “Call To Action” buttons better trigger your prospects’ emotions and help you to convert leads into customers.
On Black Friday weDevs offers up to 60% for a limited time period. They keep the action button “Redeem Now” to stimulate customer interest and urgency.
According to Optimizely, Kapost runs an experiment with their calls to action. They found that out of the top 15, 10 of them used the term “get” and 9 of them used the term “your”. It means most people attract by the phrase “Get Your [Benefit]”.
So, your call to action must provide any benefit to your buyers. That also adds value to the offer.
Having an attractive offer is not enough to drive sales, buyers must aware of the deals. A great way to make your customers informed about your promotion is through pop-ups.
Pop-ups work effectively to encourage website visitors to stay on your page. Moreover, if it contains some interesting deals people are more likely to read it and act instantly.
But remember overuse of pop-ups can annoy your buyers and drive them away. So, use them to display offers that seem beneficial to the users.
It’s worthless to compact your offer with so many things. Just highlight the points that can convert and make people act fast. No need to include every detail of your deals. Just keep your wording simple for a limited-time campaign. So people can easily understand them.
Victoria’s Secret sets a wonderful example-
Instead of sharing all the information, they place a “Details” button in their ad. Hence, people can easily pick the key points from here, and if they feel motivated simply click for the details.
On the other hand, Kohl’s makes their ad too complicated:
Too many numbers included, difficult to focus on one point. People who even want to redeem the offer get confused about what to read and how to proceed.
Remember, too many things can drive your potential buyers confused and you’ll end up scaring them away indeed.
Buyers must find your limited-time offer attractive at first sight and read. Otherwise, you may lose a large number of potential customers.
Here are some rules you should consider to roll out a limited time offer:
Here are some variances to form an engaging limited-time offer:
There are some words as well that pack a strong emotional punch. Use these words in your discount offer to increase the sense of urgency:
|Don’t delay||Don’t miss out||Final close-out|
|Hurry||Last chance||Limited time|
|Never again||Now or never||Offer expires|
|Once in a lifetime||One day only||Only|
|While supplies last||Before the season ends||Close-out sale|
|Limited stocks only||Hurry up, limited time offer||Order while supplies last|
|Prices going up||Rush||Today only|
|Your time is running out||Last orders|