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Amazon Rewards Sellers Who Offer Free Shipping

Amazon is making a major policy change that benefits sellers who offer free shipping. Amazon spokesperson Erik Fairleigh said as of Tuesday, all Amazon seller-fulfilled items with free shipping are eligible to contribute to Amazon’s minimum order of $35 to qualify for free shipping through Amazon Super Saver Shipping.

“For example,” Fairleigh said, “a customer wants to buy a $25 coffee grinder fulfilled by Amazon. Previously the customer would have needed to find another Amazon-fulfilled item for at least $10 in order to qualify for free shipping on the entire order. Now, seller-fulfilled offers with free shipping can be combined with Amazon-fulfilled offers to meet the $35 order minimum.”

That would mean if the customer adds a $10 bag of coffee sold by a seller with free shipping, the combined price of the grinder and the coffee allows the entire order to qualify for free shipping, he said.

The expansion of program more than triples the millions of items eligible to contribute for free shipping – customers can easily discover which items contribute to the minimum order for free shipping as all eligible items will have a “FREE Shipping” message on the product page.

Fairleigh said the change makes items from small and local businesses offering free-shipping even more attractive to customers. However, sellers must have a Pro Merchant account to offer free shipping.

Amazon introduced the Free Super Saver Shipping program in 2001 – the hurdle for shoppers at that time was orders over $99. It subsequently lowered the threshold to $49 and then $25 the following year. In October 2013, Amazon raised the threshold to $35.

Fairleigh said FBA items are Amazon-fulfilled, so they were already part of Super Saver Shipping.

The email sellers received on Tuesday linked to a page where Amazon said shipping costs have been shown to be one of the biggest barriers to online shopping in nearly all studies of Internet shopping behavior. “Further, offering free shipping can increase sales and may help sellers with Professional selling plans compete for the Buy Box. As online sellers, we should do our best to break this barrier and encourage customers to shop on the Internet with confidence. Free Shipping by Amazon.”

And, it said, “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.”

Sellers who already offer free shipping on Amazon items benefit, but sellers who don’t offer free shipping are trying to determine how the expansion of Amazon Super Saver Shipping impacts them and what, if anything, they should change in their selling and pricing strategies.

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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. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.