How important is free shipping?

Moneyland discusses the growing popularity of free shipping at online retailers:

In November of last year, a New York Times study noted that 41% of online purchases came with free shipping—an impressive figure at the time, considering that free shipping was once a novelty, a rare unexpected bonus.

And this year, according to a National Retail Federation survey, more than 9 out of 10 online retailers will offer free shipping at some point during the holidays. Free shipping has become almost an expectation among online shoppers. So important, in fact, that many require it:

Increasingly, online shoppers won’t complete their orders unless free shipping is part of the deal.

According to the article, 47% of shoppers would abandon their purchase if they found out shipping wasn’t free at checkout. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve added one or two things to my online cart, only to close out the window when the shipping charge appeared.

In my opinion, sites like Amazon.com have figured out a great way to exploit our expectation of free shipping. At Amazon, you almost always receive free shipping, as long as your purchase is at least $25. That’s where this tool comes in handy. Amazon’s free shipping policy is really paying off for them because we often buy more than we intended. Most of us will keep adding to our cart until we reach $25. In short, we’re rewarded for buying more.

Free shipping causes us to not only buy, but to buy more. We rationalize: “Since it’s all ‘free,’ why not throw in the kitchen sink too?” But it’s important to be mindful of your purchases. Don’t fall for the clever ploys of online retailers offering free shipping, trying to get you to spend more. Free shipping can be a great deal, but only if you stick to your list and avoid the temptation to overspend.

If you’re planning to do any online shopping, Free Shipping Day is December 16th this year. Over 2,000 online retailers will offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. To see who’s participating check out FreeShippingDay.com.

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