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Amazon Encourages Sellers to Offer Free Shipping

Amazon is encouraging third-party merchants to offer free shipping – it turns out that what some sellers thought might be a test is actually a new shipping option it is offering to sellers.

EcommerceBytes wrote about reports of the new Free Economy Shipping option on Wednesday, and Amazon spokesperson Erik Fairleigh explained later in the day that the new option was available to all sellers who meet the free shipping offer requirements.

The Free Economy Shipping option gives sellers only a slightly longer delivery window (one day) than Standard Shipping. Buyers who select the free-shipping option are told to expect delivery within 5 to 8 business days (1 day for handling and 4-7 days for shipping) to anywhere with a continental U.S. street or P.O. box address.

Third-party sellers can currently use Amazon’s FBA program if they wish to participate in Amazon’s free Prime shipping program. Otherwise, buyers pay Amazon a shipping fee, and Amazon forwards on a portion of that to sellers. If sellers offer free shipping, they receive no shipping credit from Amazon. As some sellers reminded their colleagues, those considering offering the new Economy shipping option might wish to adjust their product prices accordingly.

The incentive for sellers, according to Amazon? “Offering free shipping can increase sales and may help sellers with Professional selling plans compete for the Buy Box.”

Fairleigh provided a link to this help page on Amazon outlining 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.

Here is what is written on Amazon help page about the new option:

The Power of Free Shipping
Shipping costs have been shown to be one of the biggest barriers to online shopping in nearly all studies of Internet shopping behavior. As online sellers, we should do our best to break this barrier and encourage customers to shop on the Internet with confidence.

Amazon has made its free shipping on orders over $35 a prominent feature because we think this is one of the most significant ways to affect the growth of our business. Offering free shipping can increase sales and may help sellers with Professional selling plans compete for the Buy Box. Additionally, Amazon is investing in features to raise customer awareness of offers with free shipping.

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. When you offer Free Economy Shipping, your entire inventory will be eligible for free shipping without any cart threshold. Buyers can select this option for 5-8 business day delivery (1 day for handling and 4-7 days for shipping) to anywhere with a continental U.S. street or P.O. box address. To offer free shipping for a specific price band or set of ASINs, you can charge for shipping using Price Bands or by uploading a Shipping Override file.

To enable Free Economy Shipping, follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings, and select Shipping Settings.
  • Click Edit on the top right of the Shipping Rates section.
  • Check the address types you’d like to offer, and click Continue.

You can also offer free shipping by setting your shipping rate to $0 for any ship option or by uploading a shipping override file.

For more information about these methods, see Shipping Rates & Settings.

Whether you offer Free Economy Shipping, set your shipping price to $0, or upload a shipping override file to offer free shipping, Amazon.com will include FREE Shipping messaging on the product pages for all your eligible products so customers will know about your offer

Please send any feedback on free shipping to FreeShippingFeedback@amazon.com.

Is it feasible for sellers to offer free shipping on Amazon? Let us know what you think on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.