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How to market free shipping 1
Posted Jun 19, 2019 by Giedrė Kronberga, Printful

How to Market Free Shipping to Grow Your Online Store

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: free shipping is an effective marketing tactic that benefits both the consumer and the seller.

According to the recent customer behavior study by NRF, free shipping remains one of the most important things online shoppers expect from retailers today. And the businesses that find a way to meet this need can expect an increase in average order value and repeat purchases.

If you’re fulfilling your orders through print-on-demand drop shipper Printful, we have some great news. Ecwid E-commerce and Printful are running a free shipping campaign that will let 10 lucky winners offer free delivery to their customers this July without spending a penny.

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8 Ways to Market Free Shipping to Your Audience

Once you decide which free shipping strategy you’ll use to grow your store, it’s time to inform your customers about it. Here are 8 ways you can market free shipping to grow your business.

1. Create time-bounded free shipping campaign

Time-bounded offers can encourage impulse purchases and help reduce shopping cart abandonment. So, if you’ve never offered free shipping on your store, running a campaign with an expiration date can be a good place to start.

You can send a free shipping campaign announcement to your entire mailing list or loyal customers to encourage repeat purchases. Make sure to highlight for how long the campaign is running, and don’t forget to send reminder emails too.

To reduce abandoned carts, use a pop-up that appears only when the visitor tries to leave the shopping cart without finishing the purchase. Let your shoppers know that they can get their products delivered cost-free if they finish their purchase in the next 15 minutes.

If you don’t like the idea of having timer on your pop-up, just mention for how long your free shipping campaign will be running. Here’s how clothing, handbags, and accessories brand Kate Spade used pop-up to inform the visitors about free delivery campaign and a discount on their store:

popup with free shipping


Original Kate Spade pop-up

If only they defined better when “your next purchase” should be made…

free shipping for the next purchase


Edited Kate Spade pop-up

That’s better. By giving customers a more precise time frame within which they should take an action, you’re encouraging them to take the plunge.

You can use pop-ups like this on different product pages too, just try not to interrupt customers’ shopping experience. For example, instead of showing the pop-up to every incoming visitor, show it to users who stayed on your site for longer than 30 seconds, or visited at least 2 product pages.

If you want to try pop-ups on your website, head to the Ecwid App Market to get Privy. This free app lets you create customizable pop-ups you can use on your site, social media, mobile, and store to grow your email list.

2. Offer free shipping for first-time shoppers

Studies show that 9 out of 10 customers agree they’re more likely to place an order if the shop promises free delivery. Depending on your marketing goals, you can use free shipping to attract more first-time shoppers.

Here’s how beauty product retailer Cult Beauty uses this tactic to not only encourage new visitors to place the first order, but also grow their mailing list:

free shipping for subscription

Once you sign up for their newsletter, the subscription box is replaced with a thank you message and promo code.

free shipping strategies 2

Send an automated welcome email with a promo code to your new subscribers. Set up a flow that is triggered whenever someone joins your mailing list. Tools like MailChimp have this functionality.

3. Use free shipping as a unique selling point

unique selling point is the reason why customers come shop from you instead of another store.

There are probably quite a few businesses in your niche offering products similar to yours, but how many of these businesses offer free shipping? While delivering products to customers for free isn’t anything new, it’s something that can make you stand out from the competition.

There are probably quite a few businesses in your niche offering products similar to yours, but how many of these businesses offer free shipping? While delivering products to customers for free isn’t anything new, it’s something that can make you stand out from the competition.

Book Depository is a UK-based online bookseller that ships orders to over 160 countries around the world for free. Free delivery isn’t just a campaign with an expiration date—Book Depository makes an effort to highlight this unique point in their marketing copy.

Every other email campaign either has “free delivery” in the subject line, or hints to it in the body of the email:

free shipping in the email subject line

Their social media updates include a reminder about free shipping too:

free shipping in marketing

The takeaway? Whether you deliver some or all of your products for free, make sure to remind your existing and potential customers about it.

4. Have a free shipping reminder at the checkout

Setting a free shipping threshold is a popular strategy that helps to increase a store’s average order value. But unlike other tactics, this one is more effective for shoppers who are in the purchase stage of their buyer’s journey.

Since customers have already made up their mind to place an order on your store, a friendly free shipping reminder might be the only incentive they need to add an extra product to the cart.

Candian skincare brand Deciem informs its shoppers about free shipping option only when they’re at the checkout page:

Free shipping at checkout

Customers see how much they’d be paying for standard shipping. They’re also informed that adding a product that costs a certain amount would make them eligible for free shipping.

Is it worth paying €5 for delivery, or is it better to pay an extra €4 for another product and get everything shipped for free? Well, it’s the shopper’s decision.

Learn how to add custom notices to checkout in the Ecwid Help Center.

5. Mention free shipping on the delivery information page

A delivery information page is a place where you share important details about available shipping options, delivery duration, and cost. It’s also the place where you can speak about free delivery options available on your store.

Here’s how the British clothing brand Whistles incorporates free shipping information on its order delivery page:

free shipping terms

Shipping pages are one of the most visited pages on any online store. According to NFR, 65% of shoppers say they look up free shipping thresholds before adding products to their carts. So it’s important to not only disclose regular shipping information, but also inform customers about free options too.

6. Inform all incoming visitors about free shipping

Whether you’re running a free shipping campaign or offering it on all orders always, let all of your incoming visitors know about it. One of the ways to do that is to use header banners. Let’s take a look at a few examples how different brands use them.

Girlfriend Collective offers free shipping on any pair leggings:

free shipping promo bar

Frank Body communicates about their free shipping threshold:

free shipping bar

And Pandora advertises free 3-day shipping on all orders:

Free shipping bar pandora

Once visitors click on these banners, they’re redirected to shipping information landing pages, or product categories where they should take the next step.

Check out Promo Bar in the Ecwid App Market if you want to add a customizable top banner to your storefront.

7. Offer free shipping as a service

Offering free shipping isn’t enough—customers also want it to be fast. But having both options available on your store may not always feasible, especially if you’re just starting off. Luckily, there’s a way you can meet this customer need without hurting your business: create a shipping service.

That’s exactly what Asos did. By subscribing to their Premier Delivery service for €13.76 a year, Asos shoppers can get all of their orders delivered for free the next day.

loyalty programs free shipping

And then, of course, we have Amazon Prime, a shipping service that include not only free and fast delivery but other perks too.

free shipping strategies 4

Creating a shipping service can be a good solution for stores that have regular shoppers, but don’t want to offer free and fast shipping to everyone.

8. Reward loyal customers with free shipping

Online store owners put a lot of effort in getting new customers and sometimes forget that making existing customers happy is just as important. After all, the probability of selling to a new customer is significantly lower than selling to someone who already knows you.

Just think about it, wouldn’t you much rather buy from a company you already trust than one you’ve never shopped from before? I know I would.

Consider running free shipping campaigns exclusively for returning customers or create a loyalty program that gives members free shipping on any order. But remember, if you want people to join your loyalty program you have to make it easy for them.

American retail giant J.Cew has a rewards program that includes free standard shipping as one of the perks:

free shipping strategies

The best part is that the program is free and easy to join. All you have to do to get started is enter your email address and password.

Now, you don’t have to offer free shipping to all customers who join your loyalty program. Instead, incentivize those who meet a specific spending threshold (say $500 per calendar year).

Start Promoting

Free shipping is a marketing tactic you have to experiment with if you haven’t already. Try different strategies to find what works for you, and don’t forget that for the best possible outcome you need to market it well to your audience.

Test one marketing tactic or combine a few depending on the goal of your free shipping campaign. And if you’re using Printful, don’t forget to enter our giveaway for the chance to give your customers free shipping this July.

About the author
Giedrė Kronberga is a Content Marketer at Printful. When she’s not writing about all things marketing, you can find her re-reading H. Murakami novels or packing up a suitcase for another weekend getaway.