Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Jan 5 2015 15:16:22

Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

Can offering free shipping on your listings help boost sales on eBay and other platforms? Specifically, a reader wrote today to ask if eBay's partnership with the U.S. Postal Service rewards sellers who only use Priority Mail as their shipping option.

"I use free first-class shipping with the customer option to pay for priority mail," he wrote. "I guess my question is, do you think that I would see a sales increase if I made all of my listings include "free priority mail" and raise the price to cover the cost on my side?"

"I am tempted to try it," he said, "but not sure if it would end up costing me in the end from a loss of sales due to higher prices."

Does eBay give a boost to items with free shipping, and if so, does it vary depending on which carrier and service the seller uses?

And, do shoppers favor items with free shipping, or do they do the math and factor in total costs including shipping?

Sellers often say, there's no such thing as free shipping. What's your experience?

Comments (79) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: Just Plain Irritated This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 01:33:52 2015

I have tried both and found no improvement in sales, it just raises the price above competitors in my category.

And once we got stung with returns and had to pay back the shipping, I took it off of all but very light wt items. Since our weights vary drastically, I don't know how we could set up anything for auto returns.

Frankly IF ebay was so determined to have a site with free shipping it would be EASY for them to do. It would be work for those not using the calculator.

But here is how it could be done:

Have everyone enter Wt and Box Size in calculator.  ebay displays the shipping amount, SO they COULD add the price and shipping together and display it to customers as Free Shipping. Then on returns, they could state the return amount as just the item price.

Simple, the entire eBay website would have FREE SHIPPING in whatever method the seller wanted to ship by.

My personal opinion of Free Shipping is it is a NEGATIVE. It is promoting a freebie, gimme, gimme society.

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: val2525 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 01:51:49 2015

Don't count of FS to give you an automatic boost. It may or may not help. You need to look at your competition on eBay AND at retailer websites. Are they offering FS every day on single items with no purchase minimum? You might be surprised at what you see (or don't see).

If your research shows you need to offer FS - will your price be competitive with the added cost bump due to FS?

Lastly, if your items are light enough to ship First Class, use FC as the free shipping method and offer an expedited shipping option at checkout, either at a reduced price or full (up to you). That's what most retail websites do.

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: Ebay Seller-Ebay Buyer This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 02:15:10 2015

It depends on what the seller is selling. Sellers of low priced items that the seller depends on "shoppers" who do multiple purchases should not offer free shipping.  For example, if a buyer wants to buy many low priced baseball cards or cd's then they rarely buy from someone with free shipping because every item is jacked up higher to compensate for the free shipping. Maybe free shipping works for higher priced items that aren't being combined with others. As a buyer, when looking to buy many cd's, baseball cards, vinyl records, dvd's or any of these types of items from 1 seller; I never even look at the list from sellers who offer free shipping or from those who don't combine shipping.

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: KathleenJohnson This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 02:35:47 2015

Despite all the hype and spin by eBay and other sites over the years regarding free shipping - I have never ever found the public favored sales with "free shipping". The public is savvy, very savvy in fact. They know if you make statements about "free shipping", then, the cost is moved into cost of the item. And, with all the apps out there allowing customers to compare prices - it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the "real" retail price of an item.

Personally, I view the vendor with "free shipping", when I see it on an add, as something akin to the disdain reserved for a  bawdy used car salesman.

Puck....LOL. Yup, I have been awaiting on my allotment of "free shipping" also from my shipper also.  

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: Joey4711 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 03:32:06 2015

I think that many people simply focus on total price, whether it is free shipping or not.

I have found that on items like Barbie Dolls it is often better to list without free shipping.   Or should we say shipping included.

I can't tell you how manytimes I have put free shipping on a Barbie at 24.99 and it sat and sat. yet, if I make the Barbie 14.99 and shipping 8.00 all of a sudden it sales.

If Ebay really wanted everyone to give the so called free shipping, they should give the commercial plus rates they get instead of keeping most of that for themselves to all sellers that do free shipping.

For heavy items I concur that free shipping is the way to go. I do hope someday the government steps in and requires that companies not deceive consumers, there is nothing free about shipping as you know.

It is like saying you won an auction, I didn't know winning was having to pay.    

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Tue Jan 6 03:45:20 2015

You can offer free item, along with shipping and 2 tickets to Hawaii, NOTHING will make a difference, unless of course you are selling from China, then, you can get a nice discount. I saw many China sellers selling, (sold) thousands of items with free shipping, from China, all included, $2 dollars. We pay about $1.97 for postage for first class, plus the eBay fee....?????????????

Where is the money to even pay the eBay fee, what about the paypal fee and ...... to cover the price of the item. Not to mention to pay for the envelope or the guy packing and shipping.

Here is the answer: 25 cents postage, courtesy of eBay paying for the airplanes. Zero eBay fees and a reduced paypal fee.

DO YOU REALLY THINK ADDING FREE SHIPPING WILL HELP YOUR SALES? Wasting time in item specifics, new pictures, changing prices, inventories, etc..

AND... Amazon is just the same, if not worst.

Happy Selling!

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: mastoyshop This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 03:50:40 2015

Joey and others.. let us not forget that ebay not only doesnt give us thecommercial discount, they also charge us fees on the shipping.. what kind and generous
rules they have. lol  

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: mastoyshop This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 03:52:49 2015

and as for the free shipping, I did it thru Chistmas with few sales. and all  I get are emails from ebay saying that I could sell more if I lowered my price and guess what that price is.. ??? yep my price less shipping.. in other words they would like me to charge shipping and give away my items. lol

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 06:06:04 2015

I do respect any and ALL who have tried BOTH Free and Metered freight, but for myself FREE has been a stone cold Losing Proposition. I have just short of 40 years experience SHIPPING to customers all over the USA from KC, Davenport, Baton Rouge and now back in Houston for the second time. I have entirely too much respect for BUYERS to think that FREE shipping vs REASONABLE shipping at a LOWER overall $cost will win over any MORE buyers. Even if it DID.... the PITFALLS of Offering FREE shipping on any method of shipping that is NOT FLAT RATE TO ALL BUYERS is slow suicide. OK, sometimes it is INSTANT suicide, too. I am going to shift AWAY from Houston as a ship point as like KC Houston is essentially in the center of the country which LIMITS to a certain extent how much variation there will be between final destination ZIP codes.  Lets take the example of shipping from San Diego, CA. UPS ground on a 3 lb package to Tucson, AZ might only be $9, but to NYC, NY it would be $19.  Heavier packages would only be BIGGER discrepancies. What $$$ would one select to GUESS would be right ADDER to offset for Freight?  Pick too $high and lose sales.  Pick too $low and LOSE CASH MONEY on each SALE.  I have just ignored eBay's trashy "free postage MAY increase your sales 11% WITH AN ASTERISK !" as it is a pointless and likely FALSE claim that ignores that LOSING $cash money when you GUESS WRONG on how much Freight to  include in your FREE FREIGHT pricing is VASTLY more painful than the Wishful Thinking 11 percent MORE sales would ever bring in. Right now anyone offering free freight on UPS or FED-EX needs to RACE to modify ALL their listings as DIMENSIONAL WEIGHT RATES are now in effect for BOTH of those companies.  I view the CHANGE that FED EX now bills sellers separately at the END of the MONTH for what was actually GUESTIMATED SHIPPING CHARGES as especially problematic.  Under this scheme if you just casually FAILED to post the the REAL dimensions (rounded up to the NEXT full inch on all 3 dimensions) you run the REAL RISK that Fed-Ex will CLOBBER you with unexpected higher shipping cost. I have been buying Padded Mailers from a particular eBay seller in Calif who ships FedEx or UPS as FREE FREIGHT included. They do so as even 200 mailers WEIGH only about 12 pounds. They are about to get BANGED BADLY as the BOX is 5.3 cu ft and will be RE-Rated upwards from the current 12 pound to zone 7 (Houston) to more than 40 pounds to that same zone 7. YeeeeOwwww .  Don't YOU be included in this same pitfall.

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

This user has validated their user name. by: mcfiver

Tue Jan 6 06:33:42 2015

Try walking into any FedEx, UPS or US Post Office with your package. Gently place it on the counter and ask them to ship it for FREE. When they release you from the hospital, let us know how that went.

''FREE SHIPPING'' is a ruse, a showroom canard, something the eBay 'suits' chuckled over during martinis at the club.

Successful sellers will fit the right approach to their items most every time. They remain light years ahead of eBay's 'new' ideas because eBay hires folks with so much money already in their bank accounts, they don't sell online and never have.

And them selling suggestions emails from eBay's computer-bot listing adviser? They are unread and immediately deleted.

Our experience, from over 16 years selling on eBay, is that actual or reasonable shipping costs rarely impact a quality sale.  

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jan 6 06:37:49 2015

Russ says " eBay's ever-evolving quest of the greatest buyer experience on earth."

Are you referring to the great eBay giveaway Russ?   LOL

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: cmabresch This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 08:26:23 2015

It would make more sense if ebay would show the entire price when you do a search. Many times I have seen a good price on an item and then opened it up only to see  a way out price for shipping.

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: dr shock This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 08:49:42 2015

One thing not mentioned is free shipping kills international sales.

I tried free shipping on light weight items like 45 RPM records and international sales plummeted. It already costs around $14 to mail a record overseas, add on an additional $3 ''free shipping'' and it's no longer worth it to buyers.

If only US sellers could get the subsidized rates the Chinese sellers get. They can sell an I-Phone case for $1.09 with free shipping to the US. The same item would cost me $8.88 to mail to China. Our great US Post Service will ship that I-Phone case anywhere in the US with tracking. for a small fraction of that $1.06

That's why eBay needs the fee on shipping, to help subsidize their beloved Chinese sellers.

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: Sheila This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 08:50:33 2015

I may have missed it, but I don't see where anyone has mentioned the 20% discount on FVF for Top Rated Sellers.  This refund/discount is NOT applied to shipping costs.  So a top rated seller will save a little by including the shipping costs in the purchase price.  And Ebay DOES charge their final value fee on shipping costs.  They just don't give the 20% discount on that portion of the FVF.  

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: AuntyQ This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 08:57:48 2015

I have had the same experience that Just Plain Irritated noted:

"I have tried both and found no improvement in sales, it just raises the price above competitors in my category."

I've tried free shipping several times, and actually found that my sales slowed.  I'm back to charging exact shipping cost (no handling).  

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Jan 6 09:11:51 2015

Rally up, seller troops!

It is a new year and another roll-out of changes is likely just around the corner waiting to spring on sellers like an ill tempered ground hog who woke up on the wrong side of the burrow!  

Likely remaining management will have thought of new ways to ''Boost'' sales.


Monitor your blood pressure, keep calm and carry on.

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: DVDsandMore This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 09:42:26 2015

I buy and sell on eBay.  With my selling I encourage multiple purchases and offer a very low rate for an unlimited number of items, and I can afford it with the low Media Mail rates.  

For small, non-zone based items or flat rate boxes Free Shipping makes it easy for buyers to know the total cost quickly, and in the past I know eBay gave search preference to free shipping.  

I'm on one end of the country so shipping prices can vary quite a bit from one side of the country to the other, so common items that are heavier I list with calculated shipping knowing that only customers close to me will find it to be a value.  It's just not cost effective for me or the buyer to send some things across the country.

eBay is training buyers to think shipping is free though when prices keep going up, and that's a problem. Considering I will send you 1000 DVDs priced competitively and charge only $5 for shipping it really ticks me off when I get positive feedback that still suggests I offer free shipping.  Fine, but those $1.25 items will now be $4.  Is that better?  

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 09:48:10 2015

I tried free shipping , did not help 1 bit. Ebay is dead ! dead !dead ! The site is obviously, seriously damaged. Search is screwed , no lookers , no watchers  , no sales , SCREWED! DEAD !China crap shit !!

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 10:05:32 2015

Ill give everyone my advice only , my opinion. Close any ebay account you may have. Close any & all paypal account you may have.

Our old sales site is given to china , & we are stuck with the generic version.

You have few sales , no lookers , no watchers , just leave. Close account , don't sell or buy. Reject them , the way they reject you. I will never again go on the dead site , why bother. Free shipping is a joke !!

Perminate Link for Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?   Does Offering Free Shipping on eBay Help Boost Sales?

by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 10:22:34 2015

there is no such thing, anyone that sells was told by e bay " just wrap it up into your sales price" before  they started charging a commission on shipping, at the time I did it not thinking it was being added to the fees by e bay, however became aperient when they started pushing "free shipping" for better search results, of course they told everyone that this was the buyers preferred...........

of course it was just another trick


ebay spells
Employees Band Annihilate You  

Click to view more comments
1 2 3 4  [Next Page]


Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.