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?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Jan 5 15:44:13 2015

The eternal question:  ''To Free or Not to Free''


I follow several sellers in the same category as my store. At some point we have all offered ''free'' ship within this category.

It did NOT help me - actually, it seemed to have the opposite effect. Soon I changed back to separating shipping and item cost.  

Most of the sellers of this same category I follow who also did ''Free'' at some point have gone back to separated shipping from item cost.  I don't know if they had the same experience I did but I noticed most did switch back to separate shipping cost.  


I do think it is important to look closely at each category to see what is most common and go with that. Know your niche!


Different categories may have completely different experiences with ''Free'' Shipping. Like everything else, it is not one size fits all.


I don't know if Priority vs. First Class makes much difference. But I do know if you are going to insure your First Class item, you should check out Priority Mail - It may be the better deal.

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

by: ionlylivehere This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 5 15:55:13 2015

We run two user ID's on eBay.  One that is all auction format with shipping charged separately from the item, and the other that is all fixed price ''free shipping''.  Same descriptions and pictures, same total price.  2/3 of our sales are from the ID with shipping charged separately.  Both ID's are ''top rated plus'' or whatever they call that now.   Despite what the experts say, I think ''free shipping'' limits orders to a single item.

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

by: ionlylivehere This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 5 16:04:53 2015

...  unfortunately duplicate listing policy prevents us from truly testing.  

Even with two ID's we can't have duplicate listings in the same format, auction / fixed price, that is why one ID is all auction and the other all fixed price.

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: LDS Brother

Mon Jan 5 16:52:49 2015

NO ! Nothing helps with CAN'T SEE ME !

I hope that rumour is true that Cassini is gone in Jan or Feb !

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

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 5 17:55:39 2015

I too see FEWER sales with "free Shipping"- when I change them back they sell.
It will cost you brother and you will actually see LESS sales w/ free shipping.
It is CRYSTAL-CLEAR, free shipping will COST you, both in items sold and your net profit- EVERY TIME.

Ebay= Twilight zone meets 1984 meets Enron.

(Investors will see).

WHERE are the sales totals for ebay/Amazon for the holiday season- Amazon did WONDERFULLY but ebay is pretty quiet, aren't they???

Ebay- WE ARE WAITING for your INFLATED totals- WHERE ARE THEY??

MH

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: Marie

Mon Jan 5 18:29:10 2015

Many like to hold onto that word "Free".  Both buyers and sellers.  For those that understand, it is just a name, a bad name, but a name all the same.  It was NOT started by Ebay, they adopted it from other sites that use it.

Most understand that there is no truly Free Shipping.  Someone has got to pay for it.  So either the seller has it covered in their pricing or they are paying you to buy their items.  

This is the easiest to see on Amazon.  You look at the price of a given item that says it is FS and then look at the next price of someone that charges shipping separately.  It is easy to see that the FS item is marked up in price to accommodate the shipping cost.  

With all that said.  It is up to each seller to determine what the products you sell will tolerate.  Some products do quite well with FS and others do not.  

I personally have a combination.  A couple product lines I carry does fine with FS and the buyers like it.  But for the others, not so much.  I tested it for awhile, it just did not work well for them.

So it is something you just need to research and test.

If you are going to offer FS, I personally think you should offer it at the rate for First class parcel if possible.  Include that price in your product price.  If a buyer wants a more expedited method of shipping, you can give them the option for an additional feed.  I think if you raise pricing to allow for an expedited shipping, you could or would lose more sales than you would gain.

The search results gains are the same.  FS at a FC Parcel or FS with and expedited shipping cost.  It makes no difference for the searches, but will make a difference to your customers.

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

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 5 18:44:54 2015

"It makes no difference for the searches"
(Prove it, as we see almost ZERO sales w/ FS).
MH

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: Puck

Mon Jan 5 19:17:30 2015

I'm still waiting for the USPS, UPS, and FedEx to issue my Free Shipping Permit.

They're really swamped with applications...

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

Mon Jan 5 20:21:13 2015

I've always thought that the type of buyer who has to have free shipping and we needle you for free shipping is not the type of buyer I want.

And no, I don't think that it makes any difference.  We carry a particular item that sells very well and consistently. It does  not weigh very much and we have had free shipping on it and we have had a modest shipping rate on it.  It sells regardless, so we keep the modest shipping price on it.

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

by: Russ This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 5 21:25:47 2015

Does ''Free Shipping'' boost sales?  Hard to say but you can surely bet ''Free Shipping'' will boost returns since that cost is on the seller's dime per eBay's ever-evolving quest of the greatest buyer experience on earth.

Numbers game, really.  Numbers that add up for only one party...and the party is eBay...not the seller...figure it out.

Stay Calm and Sell On...

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: Anonymous Annie

Mon Jan 5 23:01:30 2015

As a seller, I totally understand how free shipping works.

As a buyer, I like ''free'' shipping because I know exactly what my total cost will be for a specific item *WITHOUT* having to schlep through the process of adding it to a cart, proceeding with checkout, entering my name and address, clicking ''calculate shipping'' ... only to discover that what appeared to be a reasonably priced 5-ounce item costs $30 for shipping.

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

by: ebay madness This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 00:10:26 2015

I went to free shipping several years ago and include that price in the deal. Light first class items, I can charge less, heavier, it is a few dollars more. I only did it because I get this smirky satisfaction that they CANNOT rate me shipping cost DSR's. I know it doesn't count NOW, but how many times has ebay done this to us. Way back, remember when detailed ratings began and they said they wouldn't use them against us, well they did. I don't trust them, so I figure I may as well not give anyone a chance to rate me on that. I only charged what it cost before and still got nailed. Some either don't know what is costs to ship, or they think anything is too much if it isn't free. Hmmmm...Nope, I'm not giving them a chance period.

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

by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 00:14:59 2015

I've noticed a lot of sellers are going back to charging shipping. I don't get it...makes me have to do math. Most of my items are flexible price anyways. I sold an item today for $100 with shipping. It cost me $7.55 to ship it. I paid about $5 for it, I had it listed for $139.


Question: If I listed it for 139 + 7.55 shipping, would I have ended up selling it for $107.55 with shipping or $100 with shipping.

I have over 300 items listed on ebay and the chance that someone is going to order more than one separate item is pretty much nothing, so combining shipping ain't gonna happen.


Charging extra shipping is going back to the catalog days when you ordered 5-10 items from the same company...when's the last time you ordered 5 different items at the same time?


I have this guy that keeps wanting me to bid on slot car auctions (since he doesn't have an account). Every seller in that category charges shipping, and its a piddly amount, like $2.75.


WHY!!!!!!

You start the auction at $4.99 + $2.75 shipping and the bidding goes up to $94.37... does that $2.75 even matter? Did they expect me to win 5 more cars and knock $1.25 off shipping?


Once ebay took away the benefit of charging shipping (no fees on it) I made everything free shipping with a couple exceptions. Like a $30 laptop dock that weighs 7 lbs and people keep making offers of $10 + free shipping on it.

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

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 00:47:06 2015

For me it didn't work and I haven't seen anything that will boost you in search.  

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: LasVagueness

Tue Jan 6 00:47:39 2015

As a buyer I look at total price. 'Free' shipping does not seem to have impacted my sales one iota, but who knows. Interesting strategy @ionlylivehere! I wholeheartedly agree with Marie that you should stick with first class if it weighs 13 oz or under.  

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

by: BB2 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 00:55:53 2015

I agree with a couple of earlier posters who said it depends on the niche. In my niche, everyone offers free shipping. There are two good reasons for it.

(1) Almost all sellers that offer products from manufacturers with MAP pricing sell the product at MAP with free shipping. No seller could compete if they offered the same product at MAP plus shipping.

(2) Many of the products I offer are oversized and/or heavy. Buyers are more than happy to pay $400 for a coffee table with free shipping. But, $280 for the same coffee table plus $120 shipping is unattractive. The perceived value of the coffee table is diminished when you separate the cost.

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

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 01:03:49 2015

I make a point to say on my listing that most of my items can be sent using a poly mailer TO SAVE THE BUYER $$$ IN SHIPPING.

I have even gotten a hold of giant poly bags for jackets etc.

Not ONCE has a buyer asked for a different method and most seem happy TO save a few $$ on the shipping.  

Of course if it is not the proper item FOR a poly mailer I make sure the weight showing accomodates the box and packing etc.

And on a few things I have refunded some if there has been a huge difference--I am NOT refunding under a $1!

Back in the days when we would often get cash in the mail some whack job DEMANDED that I refund her something like 21 CENTS---I used a bunch of packing tape and some cardboard and wrapped those suckers--all pennies!!-- like they were eggs being sent to Siberia.

Well she DID get her refund now didn't she!

I kinda miss those days and the "Innocent" whack jobs---

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

by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 01:05:11 2015

As a buyer in my collectible category (small light weight plastic cards) I purposely look for sellers who charge separate shipping but will combine purchases. I look for multiple items from the same seller that I can combine to reduce my overall cost. When a seller in my category includes the shipping cost in the purchase price I skip that item every time and will probably never buy from that seller since the combined shipping prices for multiple items drives up the average price and makes them no longer a reasonable deal. Just a thought from the buyer side.

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

by: Puamelia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 6 01:06:59 2015

I tried "free" shipping. The apparently higher prices only hurt my sales.

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: Ric

Tue Jan 6 01:08:37 2015

As a seller, we switched to free shipping some time back to remain competitive, and we added shipping costs into selling prices.

Sales did not spike, surge or increase in any way for items shipped with First Class Mail or Priority Mail.

That said, we occasionally source product on eBay, and favor sellers who offer free shipping over those who do not.

The reason?  eBay Bucks. When shipping is included in the selling price, then we are getting reward credit for shipping cost.  If we purchase items with separate shipping costs, there is no reward for the shipping cost.

On large orders, the eBay bucks reward adds up over multiple transactions to the point that we can use our accumulated rewards to source additional inventory.  In this way, we turn the meager accumulated eBay bucks into a larger sum as items purchased sell off.

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


Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, 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.