Ways to Use Free Shipping Discounts to Increase Sales

We’re getting to that time of year where discounts are going to be everywhere. Literally everywhere, everyday. And while I know you need to compete during the holiday season by offering discounts, you know that’s not my usual mode. (You can read why I think you should stop offering discounts and some alternatives.) During the holidays, free shipping is super valuable to customers and 87% say free shipping is more important than fast shipping.

So, how can you use free shipping discounts to increase sales?

By giving away free shipping strategicallyyou can increase your sales based on your goal.

Seven Ways to Use Free Shipping Discounts to Increase Sales - How to Increase Sales in Your Etsy Shop or Online Store this Holiday Season

1. Set a minimum purchase amount to increase sales

Review your typical order value and set the minimum purchase amount to earn free shipping 10-20% higher. This encourages customers to reach just a little more than usual for the return benefit of free shipping.

I know I always weigh the cost (no shipping pun intended)… if I spend $35 and have to pay $7 for shipping, and have the chance to add another $15 to get shipping free? NO BRAINER. I’d always prefer the extra goods instead of paying for shipping.

2. Keep a narrow window to drive sales and urgency

Yay! Free shipping for 1 day only! or this weekend only!

Sometimes customers just need a baby kick in the pants to go from “oh I really want that” to “ohhhh I’m buying that!”

Create that urgency by providing a really valuable savings (everyone hates paying for shipping) and make it a no-brainer to hit *buy*.

3. Set a specific date that encourages earlier holiday shopping

Provide customers an incentive to shop earlier and help you avoid that last minute holiday crunch!

Shopping early? Good! We wanna give you free shipping! Purchase now through x-date and your goods shipped fo’ free!

4. Provide free shipping on entire order with purchase of a specific product or product category

This is an awesome way to drive sales for a product or product category that’s either:

a) selling slower than you’d like. This extra incentive to add to cart can help you move through those slow selling units.

b) a higher margin item that will not only increase your profit mix, but also help offset free shipping as a total cost

For example: Purchase any tee and receive free shipping on your entire order!

5. Send free shipping code in exchange for email sign up

An email address is crazy valuable, especially compared to any other form of social media.
In case you’re not too familiar with email marketing yet: here’s two stats to get you excited and why it’s totally worth giving away some free shipping in exchange for their email.

Stat #1: For customers acquired through email, the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) for email is 12% higher than average (to put that into perspective, Facebook is only 1% better than average and Twitter’s is actually 23% lower than average).

Stat #2: Return on Investment (ROI), because the average return on email marketing investment is $44.25 for every dollar spent.

(source for stats)

How to Execute: Provide the free shipping code with your confirmation sign-up email response; so that customers must sign up first before receiving the free shipping discount code.

6. Buy x or more of a product and we’ll ship it to you free!

Similar to #4, this is meant to encourage customers to buy a specific product in a higher number.

This works really well for smaller goods that customers may only buy one or two at a time, which can make it cost prohibitive for them to even buy once you factor in shipping. (No one wants to pay $3 shipping for a $4 item)

For example: If you sell greeting cards, you can offer free shipping if customers purchase 5 or more. This helps you earn a few extra units per order, plus makes the shipping more reasonable on a per unit basis. Again, this is a good time to check the average amount customers buy per order and take it up 1-3 units to encourage that extra spend in exchange for the free shipping.

7. Use abandoned cart promo to close the sale

Set up abandoned cart emails with your email provider and offer free shipping if they complete their purchase today (or whatever time period you set, I recommend keeping it a tight window).

Extra Tip:

If your shop platform doesn’t show the free shipping as a “discount” at checkout, be sure to state the savings in your messaging to drive home the monetary value you’re saving your customer.


What are your thoughts on free shipping?

I know I’m crazy more likely (how scientific, right?) to buy when that extra bit of expense is removed. And sometimes that little bit of friction is all that’s standing between a customer saying “no thanks….maybe later.” to “yup, boom. purchased.”

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  • I love free shipping! But overtime USPS increases the cost of shipping, I cry a little because it makes it that much more difficult to over it without the average sale being something that seems abnormally high.

    • I hear ya…I dread going there every time. Not knowing the details of your products, do you think there’s an alternate way to package, something that still has a pretty unboxing experience, but cuts down on extra packaging?
      or alternatively, do you feel you’re priced right?