Free Shipping Isn't Free

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay 

There’s been a recent push on Etsy to get everyone to offer free shipping on individual items or a free shipping guarantee on orders over $35. Of course, the cost of shipping is not free so there’s also been advice offered on how to add the cost of shipping into the price of our items. This, unfortunately, is not necessarily best for me and is definitely not best for you, my customers, so I want to take a little time to explain why I don’t have a badge on my page touting “free shipping” when so many other people on Etsy do.

Most of my single items ship for $6-7, depending on what part of the country you live in. (This was written in 2019 -- when the post office raises its rates this price will go up.) Sometimes I wind up refunding you a dollar if you live close to me because the shipping is less. Etsy also often gets the cost incorrect for multiple items shipped in one box because they estimate the cost based on each item plus the cushioning I use for safety. But I don't need to use twice the amount of cushioning for an additional item so they frequently estimate that I will need a larger box than I do. So about 1/3 of people who buy multiple items get a refund of $1-3 (depending on how far away from me they live) as well. I don’t mind doing this and I’m sure it does no harm to surprise people with unexpected money back.

But if the cost of shipping is rolled into the price of the items, things get super complicated. And I would need to choose from a couple of bad solutions.

Solution #1: Add the average cost of shipping (at least $6 or more) to every item in my shop. 
That means some of my items will appear to double in price! Others will go up by about a third or more. And if other people who sell similar products separate shipping from the cost of the item (and most of them do, just as I always have), my prices will appear to be extremely overpriced. Unless they all make a change, I can’t bring myself to do this.

Solution #2: Add part of the cost of shipping to every item in my shop, only offer free shipping when an order comes to over $35, and hope I guessed right about how much I add. 
This is actually a solution I’ve been seriously considering. Adding $2.50 to every item might not be an excessive price jump. But that means that customers who only want or can't afford more than 1-2 items don’t get free shipping and they also will be subsidizing the cost of shipping for those who buy $35 worth of items at once. (That doesn’t feel fair.) And it is quite possible that adding enough items to your cart to qualify for “free” shipping might even cost you more than if you bought the same number of items without $2.50 added in and paid the actual cost of shipping. (Three of my lightest items (my typical sale at this time) with $2.50 extra built into the cost = $8.50 actually paid for shipping instead of what might have been $6-$7.) I won’t be able to give you money back because I will be depending on the extra $2.50 per item to pay for the cost of shipping in general. And I won't be able to afford to offer the discounts I offer in my shop (see below).

Does it make sense for me to do this? I don’t think so! 

Real Ways to Save Money in My Shop:

  • Sign up for my monthly email newsletter and I’ll give you a coupon code worth 10% off your entire order every time you order from my shop. You can even use the code for already discounted items! (That’s even better than free shipping. In some cases, (when I offer a special) it's the same as the best wholesale discount I offer to stores that carry my items. You can't do better than that!)

Thank you for your understanding about this decision. I appreciate your business and your support.


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