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  1. #1
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    USA Today Says Free Shipping No Longer Considered a Deal
    USA had an article about consumers and how they feel about free shipping. It seems they no longer consider it a deal or perk and expect it. Retailers that don't offer it are getting snubbed. Also, consumers recognize the difference between no-strings free shipping and free shipping w/ strings. Guess which one they like better?

    Anyway, the article went on to say that there is some official "free shipping day" in December (I think) and then it mentioned a website that focuses on just free shipping. Is there really an official "Day" or is it just something the free shipping site created?

    Also, I have to agree that if I spend a certain amount of money, I don't want to get hit with hefty shipping charges. But at the same time, if I buy a bar of soap, I can't see why the retailer should have to eat the expense.

    The real point to me is that if they do charge for shipping, keep it real. Handling charges turn me off. I'll ditch a sale before I'll pay the bogus charge.

    And, if merchants think anyone is going to get excited over "Free shipping on purchases of $75 or more"... I don't think it will work this year or at least according to this article it won't.
    Last edited by leeann; November 17th, 2009 at 12:13 PM.
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  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager zooma230's Avatar
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    Following is a link to the article that leeann is referring to: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/2009-11-16-freeshipping16_ST_N.htm

    I've received feedback from many of our partners this year indicating that visitors are not responding to free shipping offers as they have in the past. Discounts that include free shipping are popular, but free shipping by itself (especially with minimum purchase requirements) is no longer attractive to bargain hunters. As the article stated, free shipping has become such a common offer that many people expect it. With all of the discounting that has occurred over the past year or so, customer's expectations for savings has increased. A 15% off discount is no longer attractive, now they need 30% to think they're getting a good deal.
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  3. #3
    Member eSilverBullet's Avatar
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    Interesting about the retailers charging for shipping getting snubbed. They'll just have to raise the cost of their products to cover it. Consumers ultimately pay the costs, regardless of how they are packaged. Companies know what their overhead costs are, cost of goods sold, shipping, etc. They make sure that all those costs, plus their profit margins, are built into their products. Otherwise they wouldn't be in business too long.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager keystrokes's Avatar
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    I think as online consumers, we have almost grown to EXPECT free shipping. I agree - free shipping alone no longer considered a "deal".

  5. #5
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    What about the official free shipping "day" though.. has anyone ever heard of it? I never have until now. "And on Dec. 17, about 500 sellers from Toys R Us to Crate & Barrel will join in the second annual Free Shipping Day organized by frexxxping.xxx, which tracks and promotes deals. "

    Gee to get mentioned in USA Today, just name a day official and run with it.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  6. #6
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    The real challenge with all this is that shipping is actually getting more and more expensive. Couple that with click cost inflation at big advertising times, and it can get hairy.

    Know your long tail, my friends. Know your long tail. It's tough to pay Google and UPS on small sales these days.

    We actually use shipping costs as a deterrent to placing small orders, as opposed to "as a deal". Consumers definitely expect free shipping if they are dropping over $50.
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  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager zooma230's Avatar
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    Free Shipping Day is something that FreeShipping.org started last year (2008). It's not a recognized "holiday" like Black Friday, but they're hoping to get it there eventually. I believe they're trying to promote this holiday as the last day for gifts to arrive by Christmas via free standard shipping.
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  8. #8
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    I still think free shipping is a plus with online shopping.

    Just as consumers are supposedly now "all" geared to looking for coupons, this is yet another misconception spawned by those who don't regularly sell full priced merchandise and rely on the "coupon" aspect to make sales.

    Free shipping offers will always help close a sale and make a customer happy and feeling like they got a "good deal."
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  9. #9
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    I agree with Rexanne.

    Free shipping is still a deal.

    Consider this - if a consumer wants a product that is available in a local department store (say 5 miles away) and the same in an online store for the same or lower price with free shipping?. The consumer is likely to buy online and save

    a) a trip to the dept. store
    b) time looking for aisles for item, standing in a line and checking out

    If all is equal, online shopping is much more convenient and easier.

  10. #10
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    I agree with Rexanne, free shipping is not the standard, it is still a deal. USAToday might believe a website, but seriously, they are relying on some website for information about something they make money from? Yes, that free shipping site is an affiliate website.

    Minimum orders are still standard policy. No newspaper article or online news site is going to change that.
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  11. #11
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    A single writer wrote that article. So it isn't USA Today the big newspaper that agrees with the free shipping=not a deal premise, but it is instead a single article writer at USA Today. They probably picked up a paper from 5 years ago and thought how to spin the then good free shipping into a totally "new" article today. The media, in general, is good at turning topics into the opposite of what they were a few years ago. Fresh content, you know. lol.


  12. #12
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    My merchant removed all site wide coupon codes last week in exchange for site wide Free Shipping. Sales have more than doubled since. For large sized products shipping can be prohibitive. I agree that if you know what you want to order and are buying for a present then having it shipped to your house for free is a big motivator to buying online. Plus, you have better documentation than you get from a store. Plus, merchant call centers are better staffed than the seasonal employees at the mall.

  13. #13
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Lets make it more personal. You think friends and family would automatically buy from you if they do price comparissons and the price of a product listed on your site is equal or very close, right? Not true.

    The number one question family and friends ask me is "Does that include Free Shipping"?

    Feedback from site visitors also state that "Free Shipping" helps seal the deal.

    When ever possible, I try to find products that include free shipping with an order.

  14. #14
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    There is no question as to whether free shipping is a good deal or not.

    The point seems to be that free shipping has become a common enough practice that it is not as effective as a lure/pitch as it used to be.
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  15. #15
    Member BrettSaver's Avatar
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    I think free shipping has become more widespread than it used to be, which obviously is why people have come to expect it. It has become widespread because online merchants are trying more and more to compete with brick and mortar shops, and clearly if you have to pay $20 shipping on something, all other things being equal, most people will go pick it up in person. Not only do you save the money on shipping, but you get that instant gratification that Americans love so much.

    Realistically I suppose the "fair" thing would be for businesses and customers to split the shipping cost, but I don't see that happening.

  16. #16
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Don't forget - an online merchant's cost to operate is less than a brick and mortar store.

    They don't have rent and etc to maintain the business and the amount of employees it requires to run a store open to the public. They also don't have the shoplifting problem that a offline store has.

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  17. #17
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I think free shipping has become more widespread than it used to be, which obviously is why people have come to expect it. It has become widespread because online merchants are trying more and more to compete with brick and mortar shops, and clearly if you have to pay $20 shipping on something, all other things being equal, most people will go pick it up in person. Not only do you save the money on shipping, but you get that instant gratification that Americans love so much.
    Its becoming a competitive factor for online sales so take advantage of it for the merchants who offer it.

  18. #18
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Free shipping always has been and still is (IMHO) the best motivator to closing a sale. It's definitely not the ONLY factor, but I think it's the biggest one. Despite what a newspaper may say.
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  19. #19
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    if merchants think anyone is going to get excited over "Free shipping on purchases of $75 or more"... I don't think it will work this year or at least according to this article
    I agree that this type of threshold-based free shipping probably does not entice a lot of customers to visit a particular merchant. However, I see it as a good way to maybe boost the overall dollar value of orders, for customers who are shopping with you anyway.

    Customer has a $65 shirt in his cart, and sees that he'll have to pay $5 shipping. But if he also throws in a $10 pair of socks, he gets his order over that magic $75 free-shipping threshold. It might not always work that way, but it surely helps push some customers to spend that extra amount to "earn" free shipping.

    Some day when I've got free time (ha ha) I'd love to analyze which types of merchant promotions (shipping, discount, or otherwise) get the most clicks, and more importantly the most sales. Has anyone seen any hard analytical data on that sort of thing?
    Last edited by trailhub; November 19th, 2009 at 02:26 PM. Reason: typo

  20. #20
    Member BrettSaver's Avatar
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    I think threshhold shipping as an incentive depends on the site. Amazon, for example, obviously does quite well with a $25 threshold. If you sell, say shoes, for example, a $50 threshold is probably a good incentive, since a couple of pairs of shoes will easily run you over $50. I think the only issue comes when stores make the free shipping threshold way too high for what they sell. The point needs to be "if you buy a reasonable amount of merch, we cover the shipping".

  21. #21
    Full Member jtoskey's Avatar
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    we often see free shipping, hurdle or not, as some of our most often-clicked promotional links. Whether or not customers "expect" it, I don't know, but they certainly respond to it. And in the game of last click wins, you'd be an idiot not to promote it.

  22. #22
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtoskey
    ... in the game of last click wins, you'd be an idiot not to promote it.
    Good point
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  23. #23
    Affiliate Manager GregRobert's Avatar
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    Free shipping is a great draw, no doubt - but are retailers are increasing the cost of products to offer free shipping?

    This is the 8th holiday season that we have are selling online and no doubt - the most competative. We have slowly lowered our threshold for free shipping such that it is now lower than our average order.

    Psychologically, I think that free shipping gives a bigger "bang" than a $7.99 coupon.

    Not sure, though! This is a good thread! What do affiliates prefer for their visitors?

    The Free shipping site is a novel idea!

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