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How to Unlock the Free Shipping Formula

In a world where online shoppers are signing up for Amazon Prime simply for the free shipping, eCommerce merchants better listen up. This is a special edition of our Tophatter Seller Education Series.

You don't have to give away the bank just to attract new customers. There are plenty of shipping and fulfillment strategies you can use on eCommerce platforms to turn your shipping strategy into a profit.

shipping and fulfillment eCommerce strategies

Free shipping might catch consumer attention, but it doesn't necessarily mean free. Consumers end up paying for the shipping costs in other ways, often disguised as hidden fees and checkout minimums.

This is one type of free shipping formula, but it's not the best way to attract new customers. Studies show that half of online shoppers won't complete a purchase if extra costs are too high - including shipping. 

What do you do when consumers are expecting free shipping?

free shipping strategies

Top sellers on Tophatter are using various listing strategies to make free shipping formulas work for them. And you don't have to bribe customers with price minimums to do it. 

What's their secret?

We asked a few of our top sellers which listing strategies work best with a free shipping formula. We found that top sellers use a $1 Starting Bid strategy that utilizes free shipping to keep customers shopping longer.


Free Shipping Strategies from Tophatter

"The only thing that works for us is offering free shipping to everyone and always Starting [Bids] at $1," says Mary, a top seller across multiple Tophatter product categories. "If you charge a shipping charge, either your item is going to sell for $1 plus the shipping, which rarely works out for you. Or it's going to go unsold which again costs you with a Scheduling Fee. My advice is to always offer free shipping and start at $1."

Why does this strategy work so well?

Because top sellers are consistently listing a high number of units. When you have a lot of listings, you don't have to assess each individual sale. Mary recommends focusing on your weekly or monthly goals.

With a high number of listings, you can still make a monthly profit even with free shipping.


How to Test a Free Shipping Formula on Tophatter

If you're interested in making free shipping work for you, log into your seller account and take a look at what products you can schedule for auction right now.

Or you may want to consider listing a new product to test.

Take it from Steve, a top seller in our Collectibles category - he has his own strategy for scheduling new products to test out shipping formulas.

"When we introduce a new product on Tophatter we first reserve at least 50 units," he explains. "We then offer 5 units with a $1.00 start and free shipping at a high SFB [Scheduling Fee Bid] so that results are quickly obtained. If the individual and overall average results for these 5 units are profitable we then do a Prebuy for the remainder in this format."

Per Steve's strategy, you may find that free shipping isn't always enough to attract the customer. You might have to alter a few things here and there, or update your product listings completely in order to sell the remainder of your inventory. 

If you aren't comfortable with setting a shipping charge, Steve recommends listing with a higher Starting Bid. Remember, customers are willing to spend more money for free shipping.


Unlocking the Free Shipping Formula

Finding a balance between what your customers are willing and not willing to spend on shipping can help you decide which of these eCommerce shipping strategies works for you.

Sometimes you might find that a higher Starting Bid works with your items, or you may find that $1 works just fine. 

How will you know? It's time to log into your seller account and test these shipping strategies out for yourself!

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