Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu May 29 2014 22:11:49

Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?

By: Ina Steiner

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Etsy is running a test in which it is hiding the shipping costs on sellers' listings. Many sellers were upset at the idea that Etsy would make it harder for shoppers to view costs, as I described in EcommerceBytes Newsflash last week.

In order to view the shipping costs, users who are part of the test must actually place the item in their shopping cart, a move that to some shoppers feel like they are making a commitment to purchase, while to others, it's no big deal whatsoever.

While many sellers complained about the test and some even said they experienced a decline in sales due to the testing, other sellers came to Etsy's defense, as I report in this article in tomorrow's newsletter.

Many of the sellers made the point that it is better for a marketplace like Etsy to test a new feature before committing to it.

Sellers who complained about Etsy's hidden shipping costs test did not disagree. Those who posted in today's thread about Etsy tests agreed testing was necessary, but said this particular test was harmful to the shopping experience.

One seller speculated that the test could be leading to a positive outcome: "what if Etsy is testing something where buyers would get a more accurate *combined* shipping cost based on the total number of items in a cart," she asked.

What do you think? Must shipping costs be displayed on a product listing? Are there any exceptions?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?   Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu May 29 22:39:45 2014

Shipping charges should always be shown in a listing. Otherwise, how would you know which is the lowest overall price? If there are several of the same item available for purchase, you need to compare both the base price and the added shipping to determine which is the lowest, or if the base price with free shipping is a better deal than base price plus added shipping. I doubt anyone is looking to pay more than they possibly can. And if you have to put an item in a cart before you see the shipping cost, that means if it is deemed too high, the buyer has to delete the item out of the cart and start over. I think that would become very frustrating very quickly to buyers.

Perminate Link for Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?   Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri May 30 07:14:54 2014

Yes, it is hard for me to believe that any company would think otherwise, unless they were trying to pull a fast one on a buyer.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri May 30 08:06:43 2014

Way back when, in the early years of online shopping, you never knew what shipping cost was until you went through several screens and were near the last page of checkout. I HATED that.

I usually ended up deleting some of the choices I was ''iffy'' about in order to make the shipping cost less. Back and forth in those screens. Sometimes if shipping was really high I just walked.

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by: Oldguy This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 30 08:53:18 2014

I hated that they hid the shipping cost.  A royal pain to go to check out to see the cost.  
Stupid and ridiculous.  What are they doing? Copying ebay on stupidity?

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by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 30 09:48:56 2014

Absolutely ! Otherwise the buyer will assume that the seller is trying to hide it !
This is especially true in todays "climate" as on-line buyers have been groomed to expect "free" shipping, which as we all know is never "free".  

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by: Eric Saeger This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 30 11:24:09 2014

Such cynicism around here.  What could go wrong with surprising the buyer with a nice sweet $15 shipping charge on a $10 item?

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 30 11:59:37 2014

Ruby Lane offers this particular "feature"--sometimes I buy an item, then the seller lets me know the postage and its--well, like yesterday 3 ounces from Canada, $32--astronomical. I want to know WHEN I CLICK TO BUY.

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by: Terry in Texas This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 30 12:53:58 2014

i hate having to add an item to my cart to see the shipping. too many clicks and screens. it's also annoying to do that and then a day later receive an email that i still have an item in my cart and was i ready to buy? today's buyers are used to instantly knowing the shipping costs. and it's bad enough that some buyer's don't even READ those costs when it's in front of them, think of the complaints when they FINALLY do see the costs. i bet fewer people complete the transaction at that late point.

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by: Garcia This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 30 13:37:19 2014

Some sellers side with Etsy regardless of what they do.  You will find them coming into negative threads to smooth things over for the site even if it means ignoring the obvious problems that will arise should hidden shipping become a reality. Try taking the ratio of positive posts on hidden shipping with negative and you will find those in the know that care about their customers all think it is a very bad idea.  

Shipping costs belong on the product listings, not in the checkout. That is if you want sales and happy customers.  If you prefer the convos the come with hiding sales the accusations by buyers of sellers deliberately hiding shipping prices, then by all means go ahead and support it.

Perminate Link for Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?   Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri May 30 15:42:16 2014

It's been my experience---both as a seller AND as a buyer---that ''SURPRISE'' shipping costs (ie: not known until checkout) are a major reason for abandoned carts.

Tell me UP FRONT what my shipping costs will be. Even if it's just an estimated price... give me SOME IDEA right away of what my shipping cost will be.

I imagine that these days, shoppers are sophisticated enough that they aren't easily manipulated by extra-low prices and over-inflated GOTCHA shipping charges.

Personally, I look at the TOTAL COST... to determine the value. I'll bet that there are many more like me who feel the same way.

Just because I put something IN my cart doesn't mean that I feel ''committed'' to buy it. --- If I feel that the merchant is trying to pull one over on me, I'll abandon my cart and NEVER return again.

I want convenience and a reasonable value from a merchant that I can trust. If the merchant is playing peek-a-boo with the shipping costs, what ELSE is he hiding from me?

Perminate Link for Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?   Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Fri May 30 18:09:49 2014

Those "other sellers" are NUTZ.
Spent HOURS amending all the listings because of those FOOLS.
What a waste of life.
Idiots at the helm.
I'm so pissed, I can't tell you.

Perminate Link for Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?   Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?

This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Fri May 30 18:47:53 2014

Hiding shipping costs is a decision worthy of eBay management.

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 30 20:19:12 2014

Any way I think of it I cannot see the logic behind "testing" that hides the shipping price!  That goes against everything a good seller should be!  Total and complete information is the only way.  Put the GD shipping right on the first page...don't make the buyer go looking for it.  Later, they can't complain the shipping is too high...they never saw the shipping price, etc.  On other sites I have complained to the site owners whenever I found the shipping was hidden until you checked out.  That's a smelly way to do business and one I won't put up with as a buyer.

Perminate Link for Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?   Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri May 30 22:28:53 2014

Etsy had better learn sooner rather than later than deceiving buyers is a VERY BAD idea.

Becoming another ebay is a VERY BAD idea.

Perminate Link for Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?   Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?

by: jaydee This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 31 00:02:16 2014

It could be they are testing calculated shipping cost, once you enter your ship to address, as it is right now you need to add a shipping cost manually for each country you ship to.

Perminate Link for Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?   Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?

by: joyful17 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 1 22:50:24 2014

What's all the comotion about?
As a seller I have always listed the shipping cost both on Etsy and eBay.
There should be no discussion about this. The buyer has the right to know up front what shipping costs.

BUT I agree that the Etsy 'trial' was a pain for those sellers who DO NOT list their costs directly on the site.
If I was just curious as what the shipping was (on several items)...I had to 'put it in my cart' so I could see the shipping cost.! Even if I had no intention of completing a sale!

Oh la la....always something to be dissatisfied about....such is the life!


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by: MostlyArt This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 1 22:55:36 2014

I have been taking a break as a seller on Etsy, not too much in my shop, but as a buyer...

I hate not being able to see the shipping charge in the listing.  When they changed the format and made it a different window it was bad enough, but now that they think it would be a good idea to not show shipping cost at all, it will make a difference on my shopping.  So many sellers still double/triple/or worse what the shipping should cost, and I want to avoid those sellers.  I don't want to be tricked either.  So I don't know why they (Etsy) would ever have thought this a good idea?

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by: WhoKnewIt This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 1 22:57:14 2014

" What are they doing? Copying ebay on stupidity?"
~No, they don't need to copy ebay they are stupid enough all by themselves.

I started adding the shipping charges in my descriptions with a statement that says "Since Etsy decided to hide shipping charges I'm putting them here for you to see BEFORE you check out".  I was surprised that a couple of customers actually emailed me and thanked me for doing that.  They also said they had not followed through with some items they had wanted because they were tired of "searching for the shipping charges".  

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by: gadget This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 1 23:11:44 2014

Of course shipping costs belong on product listing pages. It's so obvious, it begs credulity that anyone could think otherwise.

Customers want to know what the actual total charges they're going to be charged are. In advance.

Transparency is critical.

Perminate Link for Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?   Do Shipping Costs Belong on Product Listing Pages?

by: gadget This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 1 23:13:53 2014

Make that "strains credulity."

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