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Free Shipping or No Free Shipping: That Is The Question

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Free Shipping or No Free Shipping: That Is The Question

by Sean Mal

in Shipping

Free Shipping or No Free Shipping?

One of the top questions every online seller have in their mind is whether they offer free shipping or not.

When it comes to eBay or eBay alternative auction sites, free shipping also involves your listing’s visibility in search results.

Here are some tips to help you decide if offering free shipping makes sense for your eCommerce business.

Pushing Free Shipping

Not long ago eBay was heavily pushing free shipping. Everywhere sellers were looking, eBay was suggesting and encouraging free shipping. One of the biggest incentives they gave sellers was to promote listings with free shipping in the Best Match search results.

Best Match is the default search sorting option in eBay and many buyers don’t bother to change it and they buy one of the top search results (that’s why good standing in Best Match results is important).

If you want to offer free shipping on eBay selectively for some buyers, that’s not possible. I mean you can’t issue coupons for free shipping on eBay. Instead of eBay free shipping coupons, you can create a free shipping promotion for all or some of your listings if you have an eBay store.

Why do you think eBay was pushing free shipping?

Was it because they worried buyers would not get the best deal? I think not! The real reason was that they were worried about their bottom line because they were not charging fees on shipping.

Now they are charging fees on shipping (they charge on a service they don’t provide and also won’t give 20% discount on that fee). eBay is still saying free shipping will help promoting the listing in the search results but I haven’t yet found a proof that currently charging shipping fee puts your listing down the search results, in other words, offering free shipping promotes your listing significantly.

I’m not surprised! It doesn’t matter for eBay if you offer free shipping or not anymore.

I have done a little experiment: I have listed similar items in the same category with both free shipping and shipping charge and didn’t see any difference in sales. You can do the same experiment too. If you do, please report back your results.

Why Charge For Shipping Anyway?

When I list items that are around $40 or cheaper, I add some shipping charge not too much to scare the buyer or make them angry.

The benefit? I can charge more overall!

You see, many buyers have this mentality to ignore shipping charges when shopping online. If they buy a widget for $15 + $3 shipping, and you ask them how much they bought it for they say “$15” but they actually paid $18!! I can charge 20% more in this case. Be careful not to charge too much or they might ding your DSR. Also, when item is high priced or relatively high priced (say more than $50 or so) I usually incorporate shipping costs in the price.

You Offer Free Shipping?

Do you offer free shipping on all of your listings on eBay or other auction sites? Do you offer free shipping on SOME of your listings? What’s your strategy and why did you choose it? Please share these and other thoughts and experiences in the comments section and remember to subscribe to email updates using the form below.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kartik June 30, 2013

Superb! Post a must read for everyone buying things online,
thankx for sharing the information
Loved it


Sean Mal August 10, 2013

Thanks for visiting.
Sean Mal recently posted..Keep Your eBay Top-rated Seller Status. Here’s HowMy Profile


Scott Craighead July 6, 2013

With websites like Amazon. Your in for a rough one. Free shipping is everything. If I see a cheap product and attempt to buy it and see a shipping charge on the bill. Then was the product even a value? No. Amazon is an extremely powerful competitor and I wish you all luck. – Scott Craighead


Sean Mal August 13, 2013

Thanks for sharing your view.
Sean Mal recently posted..Keep Your eBay Top-rated Seller Status. Here’s HowMy Profile


Alex July 20, 2013

thanks for this post ,
this is a great post for everyone who want to buying product online


Sean Mal August 13, 2013

Thanks for visiting.
Sean Mal recently posted..Keep Your eBay Top-rated Seller Status. Here’s HowMy Profile


MT November 14, 2016

You’re so cute.


Sean Mal November 22, 2016

*blushing* “how did you know?” :))
Sean Mal recently posted..This Is Why eBay Has Removed Item Information From Feedback SystemMy Profile


Adley September 17, 2013


Great write up. I like to mix free shipping and charging shipping with the items I am selling. The free shipping doesn’t always mean a quicker sale or else I would have all my listings with free shipping.

On the other hand, when I look on eBay to buy something I look for the free shipping items first. I like to save money by not paying shipping but I also check the listings that do charge shipping to see if I am getting the best deal for my money. The prices will always vary. Its always about research.
Adley recently posted..Top 5 eBay sales of the week. September 16th, 2013. What can sell on eBay for Profit!My Profile


Sean Mal September 17, 2013

Yes I encourage you mix up free shipping with charge shipping and see which one works better for you. When I shop online, I ALWAYS look at the total price. I just choose the lowest total price. It doesn’t matter for me (almost always) if there’s a shipping charge or not unless I’m using a reward or something where shipping is not eligible to get reward.

Thanks for visiting.
Sean Mal recently posted..5 Tips To Minimize Item Return And Handle Returns CorrectlyMy Profile


Matt February 10, 2014

How about TripleClicks? I use them all the time and they’re similar to Ebay & Amazon but with some major differences, to list your product only costs 26c and it’s there until you decide to take it down! They also don’t take any commissions so all of the sale price goes to you directly, they give away a free listing from time to time, you can get one right now.


Andree May 11, 2016

This is a good blog, it teaches me lot of things. Thank you


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