The benefits of free shipping offers are well documented; it simplifies the charges in the customers mind, and is a proven sales driver.

Luke Knowles from has put together a free e-book (pdf) with some case studies and stats on free delivery.

Here's a few of his tips on different types of free delivery / shipping offers...

Free delivery on everything

This is the most attractive version of the free delivery offer for customers, especially if it promoted prominently on the homepage, as done by retailers like John Lewis and Game:

Game free delivery on everything offer.

This gives retailers a definite advantage over competitors not running such offers, but they will need t have high enough profit margins to be able to make this offer.

Free for minimum orders

This is a useful alternative to offering free delivery on everything, and can be useful for encouraging customers to spend a little more and increase average order values.

Amazon and Tesco are both offering this for the Christmas period, and this has the advantage of both providing an incentive for customers and allowing retailers to set the threshold at an affordable level in terms of fuel costs.

Another good idea with this kind of offer is to remind customers when they add items to the shopping basket that spending a bit more will qualify them for free delivery, something Borders does on its website.

Free delivery on selected items

Depending on the kind of products you stock, free delivery may not be a cost effective offer, so you could offer this for selected products only. This also provides a useful method of promotong items which aren't selling so well.

Free delivery to a local store

Something also offered by, this allows customers to get items that may not be in stock at a local outlet and can be helpful for people who will not be around to get items delivered to their homes. It also has the added benefit of getting shoppers into stores

Free delivery for members

Not the best way to attract the casual shopper but this is a useful tool for customer retention. Amazon Prime is one example of this; for £50 a year members get unlimited free one day delivery.

Flat rate delivery

Not exactly free, but a flat rate delivery offer, with charges staying the same regardless of the product or quantity ordered, is another way of simplifying the purchase proposition for customers.

Related articles:
Offering free delivery? Then shout about it...
More reasons to offer free shipping 

Graham Charlton

Published 2 December, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (3)


Ciaron Dunne, Director at

Always an interesting tradeoff between offering free delivery on everything to encourage people to actually buy the smaller items they might not have bothered with, but at the same time trying to make sure people up their basket size. Anyone have any evidence / thoughts about how this actually works in practice?

over 9 years ago


E-commerce Consulting

Undoubtfully, offering FREE shipping as well as other promotions like buy 2 products, and get 1 FREE or FREE gift with a purchase over a certain amount and many other scenarios boost the e-commerce sales for online retailers. During the tight consumer spending and financial crisis, such offers will drive sales revenue of e-tailers and retain customers' loyalty indeed.

For business running at low cost, it's also important to have a Website equipped with such capabilities to make the life easier managing sales anywhere with a browser only.

about 9 years ago


Phil Ferguson

When shopping online, the price of delivery is always a factor for me and in lots of cases it is a bit of a deterrent. It is understandable that small and cheap items may not be able to be delivered for free but most people use online shopping sites such as Amazon and Tesco to spend considerable amounts of money and may be put off by expensive shipping and delivery prices.

about 6 years ago

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