You don’t have to apply much thought to this before it becomes apparent that the cost of shipping has to be rolled into the cost of the product. The merchant would not be able to survive, much less be profitable, if this was not the case. “Free” is, no doubt, the most powerful word in marketing, but there is a catch. A big catch!
Customers ask us every day if we will give them free shipping. Regrettably, the answer is always “no“. Here’s why.
Everything we sell is heavy. A case of gaffers tape almost 40 lbs. When you place an order online, our shopping cart asks for your zip code, calculates the weight of the shipment, and gets your shipping cost directly from a UPS shipping database. This cost is added as a separate line item when you complete the purchase transaction.
We ship our products nationwide from North Carolina warehouse. If you are ordering from Greenville, SC your shipping cost would be $22.14. The same order shipped to Phoenix, AZ would have a $48.19 freight cost. If we offered free shipping, then the customer in Greenville would have to pay more for the product to cover the cost of “free” when we shipped the same case of tape to Arizona.
Following the same logic, the customer in Reno, NV who orders a pair of shoes from Zappos (they are located in Las Vegas) and pays the same price as someone who orders those shoes and has them shipped to Norfolk, VA is paying more for the shoes than is necessary. That’s because they have to cover Zappos’ costs when they ship something across the country.
I don’t know when or if the “Free Shipping” craze in e-commerce will fade from fashion, but I do know that it is not free.
Share your observations on free shipping. We’ll pass them on to our readers.