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How to Offer Free Shipping All Year Long

online retailers . / Credit: Free Shipping Image via Shutterstock

Companies that think they cannot offer free shipping on their products all year may want to think again.  Several experts say that offering free shipping year round is not only possible, but it is a significant strategic advantage to companies that do it. 

To accomplish this, experts suggest companies follow these steps:  

  • Look at offering free shipping on overstocked items— Even if you are unable to offer free shipping on all of your items; identify items that are overstocked or that have great margins and offer those to customers with free shipping. Don't skimp on packaging material because you are offering free shipping. Damaged and broken products can be more costly than using the proper shipping packaging. Harry Hirschman, vice president of marketing, sales and customer service at Vendio
  • Shop around for the best rates— Online shoppers expect free shipping and for online sellers, not offering free shipping can mean losing business to the competition. But times are tough and that means e-commerce sellers need to account for every dollar and find ways to offset the hard costs like postage.  That’s why it’s important to take advantage of the best shipping option available. Amine Khechfe’, general manager and co-founder of Endicia
  • Pre-pack orders during your downtime— Online retailers can survive the holidays by pre-packing orders before the demand heats up later this month. You should consider packing commonly shipped items and write package weights on the surface of boxes to save time before the rush. Michael Lee, director of global marketing at Alibaba.com
  • Offer options to customers—I like to offer my buyers free standard shipping, along with the option to upgrade to first class mail and priority. I give buyers this option to entice them to at least pay for first class. Even when the buyer chooses free shipping, I still ship the item first class, so I fold part of the shipping cost into the listing price. That lowers my profits slightly, but my hope is that I’ll attract buyers with free shipping and get repeat shoppers with my customer service. Jason Hair, customer service representative at Auctiva

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