Sellers have reported that Amazon is testing a new economy shipping option they can offer on their listings. (See update below.)Sellers began reporting a new message that appeared on August 19th offered to sellers with Professional selling plans. The Free Economy Shipping option is available for sellers for shipments to addresses in the continental United States.
“The new ship option has a 5-8 business day delivery service level agreement, providing you more flexibility to fulfill orders with free shipping. You can start offering Free Economy Shipping today from your Shipping Settings page.”
Not all sellers saw the message or the option in their settings, leading some to speculate it was a test. “Amazon is saying only certain accounts are enabled,” one seller wrote in a discussion thread.
One seller described a message Amazon displayed in his account as follows: “We want sellers to think seriously about offering free shipping for all their products. The easiest way to offer free shipping is to offer Free Economy Shipping for U.S. continental street and P.O. box addresses.” He then described the steps Amazon advised him to take to enable Free Economy Shipping (by going to the Shipping Rates section of Shipping Settings).
Currently all sellers are required to offer domestic standard shipping, while sellers may also elect to offer expedited shipping. For sellers shipping within the U.S. via domestic standard, Amazon generally expects the buyer to receive the order within 3-5 business days after shipment
With the new free economy shipping option, that time frame is extended to 4-7 business days.
One seller advised colleagues, “Don’t be fooled and think Amazon is going to compensate you anything for that. Free shipping still means there is no shipping credit given to you.” Another seller advised sellers to consider repricing their inventory to offset the free shipping before enabling the new economy option. “Enabling the Free Economy Shipping will make your entire inventory (except books) free shipping.”
Update 9/3/14: Amazon spokesperson Erik Fairleigh confirmed the new shipping option but said it is not a test. It is available to all sellers who meet the free shipping offer requirements, he said. Fairleigh provided a link to this help page on Amazonoutlining how sellers can offer free shipping with the new ship option. Note the link is only accessible to sellers who are logged in to their selling account.