E-commerce is a platform for every kind of seller- big, small or medium; but, buyers usually are driven by a set of factors which is common mostly for all! Free shipping is one such factor which influences a buyer. However, offering free shipping is not possible for every seller as it affects the profit margin and is dependent on labor efficiency.
Free shipping is a major marketing tool and the problem is the ways of achieving it! The answer to this question involves varied related aspects which determine the feasibility of offering it. First among them is being the profit margin of the seller & the cost that he/she will be able to bear for shipping.
Mostly in the case of small sellers free shipping poses a huge problem; but, there are ways to solve the same. Free shipping can be offered on a minimum order amount, for example, free shipping programs like Amazon.in offers a free delivery of products above Rs.500, or, free delivery by Flipkart on Flipkart assured products. The seller can also offer free shipping for a limited period of time, for example as an introductory offer.
The seller while trying better ways of promoting sales should also keep in mind ways of managing delivery. It is often a better choice to appoint experienced courier services like FedEx for shipment delivery rather than using one’s own labor if there is a lack of experience in the field. Use of inexperienced labor would result in more cost and delay in delivery. The sellers might also opt for options like Amazon guarantee where they need to drop the package at one of Amazon warehouses while the rest is taken care of by Amazon.
The seller might even include the shipping costs into the price of the product while listing it but, this might not prove to be very efficient in the competitive market where discounts and reduced prices play a major role in marketing!
The seller’s other option is prolonging the delivery time, say for example to 3-5 days so that he gets enough time for shipment. This reduces his pressure of early delivery and also reduces the cost to a certain extent.
However, one should keep in mind that a buyer is always wavering and for successful conversions, a seller always has to aim at attractions. Nothing is a better attraction than certainty; a buyer often suffers from an anxiety of whether he will receive the product and how long it will take to reach him!
If, a seller is able to satisfy these two causes of uncertainty he increases his chances of conversions or confirmations manifold and the way of doing it is free and fast delivery like the Walmart 2-day shipping policy. This gives the buyer an attraction of free delivery and an assurance that the product will reach him soon. This can be done by maintaining warehouses at prime locations & efficient labor. Improved efficiency of labor can be achieved by making payments based on commissions per delivery.