By Rieva Lesonsky
Shipping matters. And if there’s one thing we learned this holiday season, free shipping matters more. Consider this: 96 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers cited free shipping as a factor in their purchases. Likewise, FreeShipping.org reports shoppers spend an average of 30 percent more when free shipping is available and 19 percent of consumers say they will pay full price if retailers offer free shipping. And what about international free shipping? Impossible, you say? Actually, not impossible and even small business e-tailers are making international free shipping possible without emptying their working capital coffers. Here are four ways to make free shipping work for your small business in the new year:
1. Display the free shipping logo prominently on your website: Even if you have a brick and mortar store, consumers may choose the convenience of shopping online if there is a free shopping option. When faced with sitting in traffic and crowded stores or ordering from the comfort of their homes or mobile phones, online shopping looks pretty good. P.S. Cyber Monday 2013 was the biggest online spend in U.S. history according to comScore.
2. Set a minimum purchase amount: Amazon recently upping its minimum purchase amount to $35 (from $25) indicates even the big guys need to make sure free shipping doesn’t kill their profit margins. Check your competitors’ websites to make sure you aren’t setting your minimum purchase amount too high or too low. And make sure you have products at all price points so your customer can add less expensive items to their carts to reach the minimum amount you’re charging for free shipping. Even smarter—suggest items that can get them there.
3. Give lots of options: Think free or discounted shipping options are enough to offer? Here’s what a recent comScore and UPS survey found about the options consumers look for and want from e-tailers:
– A 2-3 day delivery option (43 percent)
– Overnight delivery for an extra fee (30 percent)
– The option to buy online and pick up the item in the store (44 percent)
– The option to buy online and return items to a store (62 percent)
– Tracking options (97 percent)
4. Go global: As global ecommerce sales are expected to top $1.8 trillion by 2016 according to eMarketer, you’ll need a plan to ship internationally without spending a fortune. How do others do it? Bigger businesses can open a warehouse and staff it with people to fulfill orders near these customers. For smaller companies, it’s more practical to sign up with a fulfillment center who already has warehouses in the countries you want to deliver to. Shipwire, currently has distribution centers in the U.S., Canada, The United Kingdom and China. Coming soon are centers in Germany, Brazil and Australia. You send product to them and they handle the rest.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.