14 Aug, 2018 By Wayne Wang

Alternative Offerings Better Than FREE Shipping-banner

Today, free shipping seems to be the new best friend for online shoppers. In fact, it’s one of the most popular ways brands use to attract new customers. According to AYTM on the spending behavior of consumers, 46% would most likely add more items in their carts if checkout services offer free shipping.

As such, a lot of online shops and e-commerce businesses offer free shipping. But, it may not be possible for every online store. There is a multitude of factors to consider before free shipping can be offered to customers, and at the top of the list is your end-profit. Will your business profit from each sale when you offer free shipping? Do you have to increase your product prices to accommodate this policy?

Same day delivery, in-store pickup, and smart packaging solutions are just some of the other ways to delight your customers.


Eco-Friendly Packaging

When transporting products such as fragile items or household appliances, companies typically use styrofoam or bubble wrap to ensure that products arrive at their destinations in one piece. But, these non-biodegradable packaging solutions wreak havoc on the environment.

Take styrofoam for example. It contains polystyrene, a plastic material made from petroleum. These substances are known to cause various health problems due to its chemical ingredients, not to mention that it does not decompose. So, these styrofoam and plastic materials may eventually end up in the ocean, ultimately harming and killing sea turtles, fishes, and other sea creatures.

Set yourself apart from the competition and encourage your customers to support eco-friendly products. Experiment with packaging materials made from cornstarch, cardboard, or other biodegradable materials.


Same-Day Delivery

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. How awesome is it to place your order and receive it the same day? A lot of people today crave quick and convenient solutions. So, when an option like same-day delivery service comes along, many are sure to opt for it.

According to a recent study published by UCS, Having a same-day delivery service improves employee productivity, builds better customer relationships, offers a more cost-effective production, and helps build a basic management system. Amazon, one of the leading E-Commerce businesses in the world, used this same-day delivery service to grow their business.


Free Return / Exchange

Consumers today are smarter. They aren’t afraid to ask questions, and they know what to look for in a brand before placing an order online. Some even read through your return and exchange policies before browsing a brand’s website. Who wants to be ripped off their money, right?

Writing a free return/exchange policy needs to be simple and straightforward. Make sure you don’t plagiarise its content from another company, set the right tune to avoid intimidating your customers and create realistic customer expectations.

If your business doesn’t offer a free shipping service, a free return and exchange policy should be available. This policy will give your customers a sense of comfort and security. Use your customer feedback page as an opportunity to address any issue customers may have with your products.

You can also set up a return management page for your customers. Make sure you get the customer to fill out all the necessary details regarding the item they wish to return or replace.


Free In-Store Pickup

Have you ever considered offering a type of service to your customers that most people would expect from high-end retail brands? Providing customers with different ways for them to get their orders increases the potential growth of your business.

One of those alternative services is called “Buy Online, Pickup In Store” (BOPIS). Its goal is to help customers avoid paying for shipping fees as much as possible. It also confirms whether their items are on-hand or not.

BOPIS allows customers to pay for their orders first, and pick it up when they can. They can also have someone else claim the items as long as authorisation letter and receipt are presented.


Flat Rate

It takes time (and complicated website UI) to accurately determine the rates to set for your shipping and delivery fees, especially when your courier bases their rates on the size and weight of the items you’re sending. More importantly, customers can be discouraged to purchase more items when they see that the shipping cost increases as they put more products in their cart.

A fixed delivery charge will encourage customers to purchase more items from you. So, partnering up with a courier company that allows you to send items for a flat rate regardless of size or weight will allow you to offer this practical solution.


Bottom Line

A free shipping service may not be suitable for all e-commerce businesses or online shops. Fortunately, there are readily-available solutions that will allow you to prevent friction during the shopping experience and delight your customers.

Your goal in providing various shipping services is to provide convenience to online shoppers. The easier it is to order or even return a product to your company, the more people would prefer your business over your competition.

Bear in mind that this isn’t something you’ll get right the first time. It’s about studying your company statistics, finding trusted courier companies, and testing out which option works best for your business.