Why Free Shipping Is More Than Just a Perk: A Deep Dive

Picture this: You’re browsing two online stores selling that perfect pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing. One offers free shipping, while the other tacks on a hefty delivery fee at checkout. It’s a no-brainer. You’d go for the store that offers free shipping every time. This scenario plays out daily in the minds of consumers everywhere, highlighting just how crucial free shipping has become in the world of ecommerce.

For Australian small business owners and managers of local retail stores, understanding the dynamics of a Free Delivery Tier can be a game-changer. It’s not just about adding a perk; it’s a strategic move that can increase your sales, give you a competitive edge, and help manage costs effectively. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into why offering free shipping is more than just a customer bonus – it’s a vital business strategy.

Increase Average Order Value

The Psychology Behind Free Shipping

Let’s start with the first key point: how free shipping can increase your average order value. Imagine running a cosy little bookstore in Sydney. You notice that while you have steady orders, they’re primarily for single books. You decide to introduce a free shipping threshold – customers who spend over $50 get their books delivered for free. Suddenly, instead of ordering one book, customers add a second or even a third to their cart to hit that $50 mark. This isn’t just wishful thinking; solid data backs it.

Research Findings

According to a 2022 study by Klaviyo, offering free shipping with a minimum spend threshold increased the average order value by 30%. Customers are motivated to reach that free shipping target, leading to larger purchases. Similarly, a 2021 report by Walker Sands found that 77% of consumers have added items to their cart to qualify for free shipping. This behaviour is a testament to the power of perceived savings – the notion that they’re getting a better deal by hitting that free shipping mark.

In another study by the National Retail Federation (NRF) in 2022, 75% of consumers expect delivery to be free even on orders under $50, up from 68% in 2019. This growing expectation means that businesses not offering free shipping might be left behind as customers gravitate towards those that do.

The Take Away

Introducing a free shipping threshold can be a powerful tool for increasing average order value. By encouraging customers to spend a little more to qualify for free delivery, you can boost sales and enhance the overall shopping experience.

Competitive Advantage

Standing Out in a Crowded Market

In the bustling world of ecommerce, standing out can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. With countless options at their fingertips, customers are always looking for the best deals and the most convenient shopping experiences. This is where free shipping can set your business apart from the competition.

Imagine you own a trendy fashion boutique in Melbourne. You’ve got a great selection of clothing and accessories, but so do many other shops. How do you convince potential customers to choose you over the others? Offering free shipping could be the answer. It’s a simple but effective way to capture the attention of shoppers who are comparing options.

Market Expectation

Free shipping has become more than just a nice-to-have; it’s a standard expectation for many online shoppers. According to a 2022 consumer trends report by Jungle Scout, 80% of consumers expect free shipping when shopping online. This expectation means that if you’re not offering free shipping, you could be losing potential customers to competitors who do.

Moreover, the same report showed that 66% of consumers had chosen one retailer over another because they offered free shipping. This statistic highlights how critical free shipping can be in influencing purchasing decisions. It’s not just a perk; it’s a competitive edge.

Reducing Cart Abandonment

One of the biggest challenges in ecommerce is cart abandonment. Shoppers often add items to their cart only to abandon them at the last minute, and additional costs like shipping fees are a primary culprit. A 2021 study by the Baymard Institute found that extra costs, such as shipping fees, are the number one reason for cart abandonment, with 49% of shoppers abandoning their carts due to these additional costs.

By offering free shipping, you can address this issue head-on. Customers who know they won’t be hit with unexpected shipping fees at checkout are likelier to complete their purchase. This can significantly reduce your cart abandonment rate and boost your overall sales.

The Take Away

Offering free shipping isn’t just a perk; it’s a strategic advantage that can help your business stand out in a crowded market. By meeting customer expectations and reducing cart abandonment, free shipping can drive more sales and enhance customer loyalty. In the next section, we’ll delve into cost management strategies to ensure that offering free shipping doesn’t erode your profit margins. Stay tuned!

Cost Management

Balancing Costs with Benefits

Offering free shipping can drive sales and give you a competitive edge. Still, it also comes with challenges, particularly in managing the associated costs. However, with careful planning and strategic adjustments, you can offer free shipping without significantly impacting your profit margins.

Calculating the Optimal Threshold

The key to managing costs effectively is to set a free shipping threshold that encourages higher spending while covering the delivery cost. According to a 2022 report by Shippo, on average, a 15-20% increase in product prices is sufficient to cover the cost of offering free shipping. This means you can absorb the shipping costs by slightly adjusting your prices without eroding your margins.

Another approach is to set the free shipping threshold at 10-15% above your average order value. This strategy encourages customers to add more items to their carts, increasing the overall order value and covering shipping costs. For example, if your average order value is $80, setting a free shipping threshold at $90 or $100 can help balance the costs and benefits.

Real-Life Adjustments

Let’s consider a local jewellery store in Adelaide. They initially struggled with the idea of offering free shipping, worried about the impact on their profit margins. They slightly increased their product prices after analysing their average order value and shipping costs. They set a free shipping threshold at $120, which was 15% higher than their average order value. This adjustment not only covered the shipping costs but also encouraged customers to spend more, resulting in higher overall sales.

Similarly, an online pet supplies store in Sydney implemented a free shipping threshold of $75, about 12% above its average order value. It also partnered with a cost-effective shipping provider to keep its delivery expenses low. The result significantly boosted sales and customer satisfaction without compromising its profitability.

Research Findings

  • 2022 Report by Shippo: Found that, on average, a 15-20% increase in product prices is sufficient to cover the cost of offering free shipping.
  • 2022 Report by Shippo: Suggested that setting a free shipping threshold at 10-15% above the average order value can help maintain profitability.
  • A 2021 Study by Forrester Research: Found that 22% of retailers have increased their free shipping minimums to manage costs.

The Take Away

Cost management is crucial when offering free shipping. Still, balancing the costs and benefits is possible with the right strategies. By carefully calculating your free shipping threshold and making necessary adjustments to your pricing, you can offer this attractive perk without compromising your profit margins. 


Free shipping is not just a perk; it’s a strategic move that can transform your business in several ways. For Australian small business owners and managers of local retail stores, understanding and implementing a Free Delivery Tier can increase average order value, provide a competitive advantage, and help manage costs effectively.

Recap of Key Points

  1. Increase Average Order Value: Setting a minimum spend for free delivery encourages customers to add more items to their carts, thus increasing the average order value. This strategy is backed by studies showing significant increases in order values when implementing free shipping thresholds.
  2. Competitive Advantage: Offering free shipping can be a decisive factor for customers comparing your store with competitors. In a market where 80% of consumers expect free shipping, providing this option can give you a significant edge.
  3. Cost Management: By carefully calculating your free shipping threshold and adjusting product prices if necessary, you can cover shipping costs without eroding your profit margins. Effective cost management strategies ensure that offering free shipping remains sustainable.

Time for Action

It’s time to take action and leverage the power of free shipping for your business. Start by evaluating your current shipping strategies and consider setting a free shipping threshold that aligns with your average order value. Communicate this offer to your customers through your website, social media, and email marketing.

Engage with your customers by promoting your free shipping offer and highlighting the benefits they receive. Monitor the impact on your sales and adjust as needed to optimise customer satisfaction and profitability.

Don’t let the opportunity to enhance your business through free shipping pass you by. Take proactive steps today to implement a Free Delivery Tier and see how it can boost your sales, attract new customers, and improve customer loyalty. Whether you’re a fashion boutique in Melbourne, an electronics store in Brisbane, or a pet supplies retailer in Sydney, free shipping can be the key to unlocking your business’s full potential.

Encourage your customers to take advantage of your free shipping offer, and watch as this strategy helps shape your business into a trusted and thriving enterprise. Embrace the benefits, make necessary adjustments, and continue to build a loyal customer base.

Start today, and let the power of free shipping propel your business to new heights.

Nicholas Duell Avatar

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