‘Free’, used in an email marketing campaign, gives the impression of no charge. When it comes to free shipping of items bought online it actually means no additional charges if the basic shipping option is chosen. Its cost is included in the item price, of course. Do people place much emphasis on merely having the postage included in the price?
The answer is included in the 2014 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey, https://www.ups.com/media/en/gb/OnlineComScoreWhitepaper.pdf, which shows free delivery is seen by many as almost vital before buying anything online. Free shipping or the provision of estimated shipping costs early in the process of purchasing were rated at 81% and 63% respectively as important options when checking out online. Flat rate shipping was seen as important by 43%.
Further, when it comes to reasons for abandoning a cart during the process, 58% cited the shipping costs being more than expected. The terminology is interesting and should not be confused with the shipping costs being too high per se. 50% suggested that their reason was that the total cost on the transaction was too low to qualify for free postage – we will return to this later – and 37% reckoned that the shipping costs were listed too late in the procedure.
With the retailers surveyed reporting that about 50% of carts were abandoned during the purchasing process, addressing this problem will probably see a significant increase in completions. With more than four out of five purchasers reporting free postage as important, and others wanting a clear postage charging system early on in the process, the best option for you is fairly clear. However, some results indicated other ways to maximise profits.
The survey found that 58% purchasers have added items to their basket in order to qualify for free shipping. That’s all but six out of ten. There would seem to be an opening here to increase the bundle and the price: “Choose a full set of replacement ink cartridges with the printer and we will pay your postage for you”.
Around 30% stated that they would join a loyalty programme in order to qualify for free shipping and the same percentage said that they would delay a purchase to await for a free shipping promotion. Only 16% suggested that they check comparative prices of other companies’ offers where shipping is not included.
As with batteries, not including postage charges lowers the initial asking price of an item and it is received wisdom that the lower the headline price the greater the take up. But if completions drop because part of the cost comes as a surprise then there can be no advantage.
The more sensible option might be to highlight “FREE postage” at the top of the marketing email and as prominently as the price. If, however, shipping costs vary according the product it would appear that it is best to give an accurate figure early on.
The concentration of customers on postage rather than the full price payable might seem odd, but it is something that you should consider in any email marketing campaign. Be clear on costs and, if possible, promise free postage.