Free shipping? Or maybe flat rate shipping? How do you choose the best shipping option for your store?

The purpose of this guide is to explain the different shipping options you have in your store and how to choose between them.

After reading the following guide and comparing the pros and cons of each method you will be able to more easily choose the best shipping option for your store.

Shipping options

These are the 4 different shipping options you have in your store:

Shipping per item: shipping profiles you have set on eBay, per item.

Free shipping: free shipping on all orders, or over a minimum order value.

Flat rate shipping: flat rate for all orders.

Calculated shipping: shipping rate calculated in real-time with FedEx or USPS.

By default your store will have the Shipping per item option set, based on the shipping profiles you have on eBay. These rates will be for local US orders and international orders.

However, you can change these default settings and use one of the other 3 methods to set up a “smarter” shipping method.

How do you decide what’s the right shipping method for you?

There are different factors you want to take into account when choosing a shipping method such as: cart abandonment, shipping destinations, product weight and offering incentives.

So let’s take a look at each of the shipping methods and how these factors relate to it.

Shipping per item

Pros

Lower cart abandonment
When the shipping rate shows already on the product page the buyer isn’t surprised by the cost of shipping when checking out, so setting shipping per item helps you minimize cart abandonment.

Free shipping on specific products
When setting a shipping rate per product you can choose which products you want to offer free shipping for, such as smaller items that cost less to ship.

Cons

Not exact
Since the price isn’t calculated based on the exact destination to which the order is shipped you can’t anticipate the exact cost of shipping the item. This means that the shipping costs might cut into your profit.

Hassle
Setting shipping rates per item can be time consuming, since you need to set up shipping rates manually.

Free shipping

Pros

Great incentive
Free shipping can be a great incentive and can help you close more sales. It also shouldn’t be a problem to offer if the cost of shipping the product isn’t too high. Or, instead you can add the cost of shipping to the product price to cover costs.

Minimum order

Setting a minimum order value for free shipping can be a great way to get buyers to buy more, which is always an a big plus.

Cons

Higher product prices
Free shipping can be tricky. So that the shipping costs won’t cut into your profits you sometimes need to add the shipping cost to the product’s tag price. This could make your pricing less competitive and increase your store’s bounce rate.

Cut into your profit
On the other hand, if you choose to offer free shipping, but not raise prices  to account for shipping costs the cost of shipping can cut into your final profit.

Flat rate shipping

Pros

Easy to setup
By setting a flat shipping rate on all products you avoid having to set specific shipping rates for each product.
Lower cart abandonment
You can lower your cart abandonment rate since the cost of shipping shows already in the product page. You can even advertise across your store that you offer a flat shipping rate and this way incentivize buyers to buy.

Cons

Not exact
This option isn’t recommended if you’re selling products of different dimensions and weight, since it can cause you to lose on shipping costs. It’s only advised when you sell products with similar shipping costs.

No incentive

Since this shipping method doesn’t take into account quantity and definitely doesn’t incentivize it, it discourages buyers from buying in bulk.

Calculated shipping

Pros

Very exact
With calculated shipping you have no room for error, the cost of shipping is calculated based on the buyer’s exact location & weight and dimensions of the shipped product/s. Giving the buyer an exact shipping cost and resulting in a shipping rate that is fair for both you and the buyer.
Better customer experience
The buyer can also compare & choose from all the different shipping services you offer, helping you guarantee their satisfaction and avoid fulfillment issues.
Easy setup
You don’t need to setup shipping rates, all you need to do is make sure you added the dimensions and weight for each product and the shipping costs will be calculated for each buyer automatically.

Cons

High cart abandonment

Since the buyer doesn’t know the cost of shipping until checkout, this can increase cart abandonment.

No incentive

Calculated shipping doesn’t incentivize buyers, such as free shipping does, but this can easily be solved by offering free shipping on a minimum order.

The best shipping method for your store depends on the products you sell and to whom you sell. Combining calculated shipping with a minimum order for free shipping can be the best choice for stores with products of various weight and size, while incentivizing buyers to buy more. However, if you sell products of similar weight and size, to avoid cart abandonment you can set a flat shipping rate combined with a minimum order for free shipping.

If you need any help setting shipping in your store contact us and we will be happy to help.