Are You Paying For Free Shipping?

Chinese military sends two naval vessels bearing 2nd batch of aid to  tsunami-hit Tonga, demonstrates responsibility, capacity - Global Times

My mother, on the other hand, is brand new to online shopping and I see her making online shopping mistakes that astound me as a “veteran.” One such mistake, taking “advantage” of a trial offer from spam she received in her Yahoo! mailbox. Of course, that company ended 중국배대지 up charger her over $100 for something that costs not even half that amount elsewhere.

There are many tips and tricks that I could mention in this article, but there are plenty of other articles that have already discussed these topics. The one shopping tip that is rarely discussed is the idea of free shipping. First, let me give you my personal definition of free shipping. A) Most obviously, the final invoice does not show a separate charge for shipping or handling. B) The retailer does not add the cost of shipping in the price of the item, otherwise known as the mark-up. The latter is obviously a lot harder for the average consumer to determine.

For example, one of the largest internet retailers for shoes offers “free” shipping. This is a great marketing tool to inspire shoppers to follow through on their purchase. It allows the consumer to believe they are not paying a premium for purchasing online. After all, one of the biggest obstacles online retailers want to defeat is the idea that “hey, I can just jump into my car, drive to the mall, and purchase my item without having to pay an extra $5 or $12 for shipping.”

Unfortunately, when one compares the price of a pair of converse from this huge online retailer with free shipping, it is 44% more expensive than the discount shoe store at the mall. I can guarantee you that at least one of the reasons for the price difference is to make up for the shipping costs they are advertising as “free.”

In many cases, whether or not a website advertises “free shipping” is not important since the customer may end up paying for the cost anyway, but just in a more transparent fashion. But, an issue does occur when a website advertises “free two way shipping” or “free returns.” In this case, the consumer may be paying for shipping charges that may not occur. The retailer may very well be adding the cost of return shipping into the price of the product even though the customer only has a 30 to 50 percent chance of returning the item.

More often than not it is the ecommerce sites that charge shipping that is offering the better deals and not charging customers the cost of return shipping even when returns are not made. It is also these sites that truly offer free shipping during special promotions often worded as “free shipping on order over $X” or “free shipping until ‘X’ date.” One such site is T.I.L. Darling Clothing Boutique

In summary, one cannot always say whether or not free shipping is your best deal. In some cases, a retailer may be truly offering free shipping as a means to be competitive, but in many other cases, especially with larger sites, it is just a cost hidden within the mark-up of the product. Additionally, it is possible that the cost of free returns, which only has a 30 to 50 percent chance of occurring, is also included in that mark-up. So, customers should always look at the final invoice cost to determine if they are truly getting a better deal, but in many cases I think they will find that retailers openly charging shipping are offering the best deals on the open market.