Fast Shipping Vs. Free Shipping: Which Is Right For You?


With the holiday season upon us, many consumers are beginning to research the best deals for gifts available from e-retailers. These deals typically offer the option of choosing between fast shipping and free shipping — and both fulfillment methods contain distinct advantages and drawbacks to consider. Let’s take a quick look at fast and free shipping and their pros and cons:

Free Shipping

It’s easy to understand why free shipping is attractive to consumers, particularly if they’re purchasing multiple items. Free shipping reduces the charges they’ll have to add to their gift buying budget and allocates more money they can use to purchase additional goods. From a customer service perspective, free shipping keeps your clients happy and increases the likelihood they’ll return in the future.

However, for business owners, free shipping can incur costs that may outweigh the benefits of their increased sales. Therefore, it’s important to be strategic about the way you implement free shipping policies. Many businesses set a minimum purchase amount in order to qualify buyers for free shipment, which guarantees that a certain amount of merchandise will be sold to help balance out the revenue lost in covering the cost of shipping.

Other business owners may use free shipping as a limited-time incentive. You could consider offering free shipping between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to give your business the edge it needs to attract clients away from your competition. No matter what tactic your business chooses to employ in the pursuit of offering free shipping, remember to have a plan. You should also work to collect data, so you can analyze the effectiveness of free shipping for future sales campaigns.

Fast Shipping

There are times when customers need merchandise with a quick turnaround time. You may know someone who put off holiday shopping until the last minute and needs to buy a gift right away. Alternatively, an office manager might be running low on toner for their printers and needs a supplier that can deliver it to them the next day to print documents for an important meeting.

To attract these types of customers, you’ll want to offer fast shipping. Like free shipping, fast shipping can attract a particular demographic, but comes with a significant caveat: cost. As a business owner, you’ll need to evaluate who will be responsible for picking up the bill.

If you place the shipping cost on the customer, you’ll want to find a way to show that the extra monetary burden you’re asking them to make is an even exchange for the services rendered. You’ll also want to make sure you make it clear to your customers that there will be an extra charge included in their purchase.

Some businesses offer fast and free shipping. Again, if you determine that this is the right course of action for your business, you’ll want to consider offering it for a limited time — or pair it with a promotion to incentivize potential customers to purchase from you.

If you’d like to find out more about whether fast or free shipping would be a good option to offer your customers, contact us today. National Fulfillment Services (NFS) has over fifty years of expertise working with businesses to provide third-party logistics solutions.

TAGS: Fulfillment, shipping

National Fulfillment Services is a full-service B2C and B2B turnkey solution for complete fulfillment services. We excel in handling focused solutions for contact center, order management and complete distribution.

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