Ebenezer Scrooge's ecommerce site would probably have some pretty high abandoned cart rates. He'd keep shipping costs a secret until the very last minute hoping shoppers wouldn't realize how expensive their purchases were with shipping added. In reality, shoppers don’t like surprises, and they’re likely to walk away even if they’ve found the perfect holiday gift for Tiny Tim.
What no one bothered to tell Scrooge is that up-front shipping prices could lower those abandoned cart rates exponentially. In fact, 34% of online shoppers who abandoned their carts say the reason is because shipping costs were shared too late in the purchasing process. If Scrooge had been forthcoming, even with higher shipping prices, he could have maintained many of those buyers.
We’re also pretty sure that Scrooge wouldn’t have bothered looking for ways to lower shipping costs, even if 54% of consumers say they abandoned shopping carts because the shipping cost more than they expected.
So, if you don’t want to be a Scrooge, what can you do to lower your abandoned cart rates? Check out four shipping policies that could inspire buyer trust so they’ll complete the transaction.
1. Free Shipping
Go ahead and cut out all the potential problems by offering free shipping. This could be on purchases over a certain amount, or you could go ahead and provide a blanket policy that covers everything on your site. Just keep in mind that 44% of abandoned carts are due to consumers who didn’t order enough to meet the free shipping requirements.
Now, free shipping does cost you money, so Scrooge wouldn’t go for that at all. You must determine if the cost of acquiring those customers is worth the money you pay for shipping. We’re certain you’ll find the cost of customer acquisition and retention is worth the investment you make into free shipping for all.
2. Provide a Shipping Calculator
If you charge your customers exactly what you’ll be charged for shipping, they’ll know you’re not making a larger profit on inflated shipping costs. Even better than breaking even on your shipping costs is the trust you’ll build with your customers. A shipping calculator lets them know they’re still getting the best possible deal, especially on larger items that cost more to ship.
Some automated ecommerce software will help you with the shipping calculator as part of the checkout process, which means you don’t have any additional work to do to offer this particular option.
3. Flat-Rate Shipping
To provide flat-rate shipping options, you’ll need to first calculate the average shipping rates for various products. You can separate these costs according to the time shipping will take, too. Some customers will prefer to pay more for a faster delivery, while others will be satisfied with a week or more in exchange for cheaper shipping.
Keep in mind that your average price may be under or over by a few cents on occasion. If you’re more worried about the overall picture, you’ll find these even out, so there’s no need to nickel and dime yourself to death over them.
To help you in your endeavor, the USPS even offers flat-rate shipping boxes. Whatever you can fit in those boxes, you can ship for the same rate every time. Customers appreciate when you pass those savings on to them, and that means they’re likely to be back for future purchases.
4. Bundle Shipping
Flat-rate shipping can help you provide wider options for your customers. If you offer the chance to get lower shipping rates on shopping carts that exceed a certain price, you might just prompt larger purchases. Most ecommerce companies offer free shipping once buyers match the bundle amount, but a discount would be just as inviting.
You can develop various levels of bundling, too, because the USPS provides various box sizes. Keep in mind that many will abandon a cart if they can't purchase enough to receive the shipping deals. You could consider shipping discounts for smaller purchases that equal a certain amount and free shipping for larger orders. You might be surprised how many people will head right back to your product pages to find another item to purchase.
After implementing one or more of these shipping policies, you’ll never again be labeled a Scrooge. Even better, your abandoned cart rates are sure to plummet. And even better than that? Those gifts that might have otherwise not been purchased will find the perfect spot under the tree.
Originally published Dec 13, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016