Consumers Are Winning The Tug-Of-War Over Free Shipping

Photo: Flickr/Beck Gusler

Consumers and online retailers have long been engaged in a tug-of-war over free shipping. Shoppers expect to get their goods delivered for free because sites like Amazon offer it, but businesses say their profits take a hit when they have to pay for postage. 

But many retailers are realising that in order to be competitive, they have to put free shipping on the table, according to Chad White, research director for marketing software company Responsys

About 65 per cent of retailers will offer free shipping with some conditions, compared with 55 per cent last year, White said. 

While many retailers used to offer free shipping with a certain minimum as an incentive for shoppers, they’re now having to take away the minimum altogether. 

More than 44 per cent of businesses will offer free shipping with no conditions on Cyber Monday, up from 12.5 per cent last year, according to a Shop.org survey. 

The same survey shows that 55 per cent of online shoppers expect free shipping. 

“During the holiday season, free shipping with a minimum has become an expectation, not an incentive,” White said.

The question is whether retailers will be be able to continue to afford free shipping. Many have said they build the cost back into products in order to make money. 

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