How to Set Up Free Shipping on Shopify To Wow Customers & Grow Conversions

June 14, 2023

How to Set Up Free Shipping in Shopify to Increase Conversions shopify free shipping

In today’s competitive ecommerce landscape, offering free shipping is a powerful incentive for online conversions.

It not only lowers the barrier to entry for a purchase—shoppers have come to expect some form of free shipping or opportunity to unlock it.

In fact, 80% of consumers assume they’ll receive free shipping once their order hits a specific dollar amount, while 66% expect it for all online orders.

When you combine free shipping with the powerful Shopify platform, you can improve sales, average order values, and your overall buyer experience.

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Showcase your free shipping offers wherever it counts<cta-title>Share your free shipping promise in key areas of your website to enhance conversions page-to-page.Start building for free

Why offer free shipping in your Shopify store

Free shipping is quickly becoming standard practice in ecommerce, so brands must build it into their business structures from the start to please shoppers and protect their profit margins.

However, there are other benefits for both merchants and customers that make free shipping an appealing perk.

Improve customer retention

santevia free shipping subscription shopify free shipping
Image: Santevia

Merchants can offer free shipping in exchange for a subscription or as part of a loyalty program benefit.

By acquiring your shoppers’ contact information and offering them incentives to continue shopping with your brand, you boost your customer retention and increase your customer lifetime value (CLV).

That yields more consistent and often higher sales.

Accenture even found that loyalty program members have the potential to generate 12%–18% more revenue growth annually than non-members, demonstrating the impact free shipping can have on CLV.

Reduce cart abandonment

High shipping costs significantly deter customers from making an online purchase, with Forbes assigning it responsibility for 28% of all abandoned carts.

Offering free delivery eliminates this concern and encourages customers to complete their purchases rather than abandoning their carts.

Increase average order value (AOV)

As mentioned above, consumers are willing to add more items to their carts to qualify for free shipping.

According to Forbes, 30% of shoppers spend more to meet a required dollar value to unlock free shipping.

That increase in AOV means a higher return on your acquisition spend, more items for shoppers to test, and a greater number of satisfied buyers.

Delight shoppers with a “freebie”

free delivery on mobile app shopify free shipping
Image: Unsplash

Free shipping taps into the psychology of the Zero Price Effect, which refers to people’s desire to receive free swag. As a result, when it’s available, people are more inclined to buy.

Statistics from Invesp back up this phenomenon, showing people will take the following actions to qualify for free shipping:

  • Add more items to their carts (58%)
  • Choose the slowest shipping option (50%)
  • Join loyalty programs (31%)
  • Delay their purchases (30%)

Common free shipping blockers

Unfortunately, like most good things, free shipping sometimes comes with a catch.

Increased overhead

When you offer free shipping, you take on the responsibility of paying all shipping fees involved in delivering goods to your buyers.

This can eat into your profits, which is especially concerning for low-margin goods.

Solution: Provide free shipping with a minimum order value and work with logistics partners that can optimize your product placement to make fulfillment as affordable as possible.

For example, if most of your sales are to consumers on the East Coast, work with a 3PL that can store inventory in your key buyer hubs.

Higher product prices

Since your business incurs more costs from shipping fees, you may need to increase your prices to compensate.

Your products thus become more expensive, which may cause more price-conscious customers to turn to competitors instead.

Solution: Use your positioning and messaging to highlight the value of your product and build brand equity, rather than focusing on price and cost savings. You want to be known as the best option, not the cheapest.

Return shipping obligations

The free shipping perk may set customer expectations that you’ll also cover any return shipping costs.

Returns are dangerous in ecommerce because, in addition to eating away your time, reputation, and inventory, they’re also expensive.

You lose out on a sale and, adding insult to injury, it also costs you the value of your product (which is no longer in new condition) and any return shipping fees.

Solution: State clearly in your return policy that any return shipping will be at the expense of the buyer. Share your policy before and after a purchase to ensure consumers understand their rights and responsibilities.

Better yet, invest in smart strategies to reduce returns altogether so you remove the need for high return shipping fees.

5 Types of free shipping offers

Now that you have an idea about the advantages and downsides of free shipping, let’s break down the various ways you can offer free shipping in Shopify.

Straight free shipping

newa shipping policy shopify free shipping
Image: Newa

With straight free shipping, you provide free shipping on all orders.

This is the easiest offer to set up and execute but can quickly become the most expensive if you don’t put guardrails on your shoppers’ frequent but small one-item purchases.

Value-based free shipping

happy dog price until free shipping shopify free shipping
Image: Happy Dog

Value-based free shipping activates the perk once a customer’s cart value has reached a certain threshold.

For example, you can set a $50 minimum order value for customers to qualify for free shipping.

This encourages shoppers either to add more items to their cart or batch their purchases into larger, more cost-effective (and environmentally friendly) orders.

Customer-specific free shipping

playstation free shipping policy shopify free shipping
Image: PlayStation

This free shipping method is tied to individual customers, such as your most frequent buyers.

It’s a great way to encourage loyalty and rewards program members to reach gold tier or a higher membership status to unlock free shipping on all orders.

It also entices shoppers to join your rewards programs, extending their CLV and building deeper relationships within your community for more returning customers.

Promotion-based free shipping

This offer gives free shipping to customers who participate in your promotions or purchase specific items.

For example, if you want to push a new item, you may allow anyone who adds that item to their cart to receive free shipping.

Or, you may work with an influencer or run an event to promote your brand.

You could give those partners a special code that their audience can use at checkout to unlock free shipping for their purchases.

Limited-time free shipping

source bmx limited time free shipping shopify free shipping
Image: Source BMX

This type involves creating limited-time sales where shoppers can enjoy free shipping for a specific period of time.

A great way to apply this strategy is on key shopping holidays or seasons, such as the month of December, to encourage and maximize shopper intent during those time frames.

How to set up free shipping on Shopify

With the basics covered, let’s talk about how to set up free shipping offers on Shopify specifically. Shopify is a powerful platform that can handle free shipping either by configuration or with Shopify app integrations.

Our step-by-step walkthrough below will show you how to create it from your Shopify admin dashboard.

1. Navigate to the Shipping and Delivery settings

In your dashboard, go to Settings in the lower left corner. Click on Shipping and Delivery on the left toolbar.

shopify settings shopify free shipping

In the Shipping and delivery section, you can choose free shipping zones. Then, select Manage.

shopify shipping delivery shopify free shipping

2. Add rates for your shipping zones

Scroll down to find your existing domestic and international rates under the Shipping Zones section.

shopify add shipping rate shopify free shipping

Select which zone you want to set rates for, then click on Add rate.

shopify set up your own rates shopify free shipping

Select Set up your own rates, then click the two arrows to the right of the Rate name field to reveal a dropdown menu.

choose rate name shopify free shipping

Here, you can choose whether you want to set free shipping as your Standard for all orders or Free International Shipping. In this example, we opt for Standard.

shopify add rate conditions shopify free shipping

3. Set up free shipping conditions

Next is selecting what qualifies customers for free shipping, so click on Add conditions.

shopify add rate based on price shopify free shipping

As you can see, your options for free shipping thresholds are limited to: Based on item weight or order price. We recommend handling free shipping based on order price.

Then, set a Minimum price and Maximum price for free shipping eligibility. Be sure to set the Price right below Rate name to free as well. Click Done to wrap up.

Once these steps are complete, the free shipping offer will apply to all qualifying orders.

Tip: While Shopify native features allow you to accommodate free shipping provisions, they’re limited to weight-based and order value-based thresholds.

If you want to offer customer-specific, promotion-based, or limited-time free shipping, you’ll need a different option.

Luckily, there are numerous Shopify shipping apps and integrations available that can extend the platform’s functionality and add some flexibility.

Tips to help your Shopify free shipping offer stand out

Simply offering free shipping is only the first half of the equation, though. To compel customers to take advantage of it, you have to make them aware of it.

Below are a few ways to advertise this perk to shoppers.

Showcase it in your banners or headers

Prominently highlight your free shipping offer in your website’s banner or header. Doing so ensures visitors will notice right away and entices them to explore the benefit further.

bootstrap free shipping banner shopify free shipping
Image: Bootstrap Beverages

The cold brew coffee brand Bootstrap Beverages, for example, cleverly uses both website elements to promote their limited-time free shipping offer.

Initially, it’s introduced in the website’s header, saying shoppers can “enjoy free islandwide shipping.”

bootstrap islandwide shipping shopify free shipping

After clicking on it, visitors are taken to its information page, which further emphasizes the offer through a banner.

The page also displays an additional promotion below that lets customers enjoy a 15% discount, which acts as the final push to convince people to make the required purchase.

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Display free shipping offers easily on any page<cta-title>Create banners and reusable blocks to highlight your free shipping offer anywhere on your store with Page Builder.Start building for free

Share it in your shipping page

Include shipping information in a dedicated shipping page, or ensure it’s covered in your FAQs.

hip optical always free shipping shopify free shipping
Image: Hip

Hip provides custom glasses, allowing their customers to choose their frames and share their prescription for tailor-made glasses that fit your lifestyle.

Their dedicated shipping page includes information about how quickly to expect orders, and highlights that they have “always free USA shipping” on all of their orders.

Include it in email marketing

Email marketing can also be an effective channel to promote your free shipping offer. You can either send dedicated emails or feature it in your newsletters.

Both approaches engage existing customers and compel them to make a repeat purchase.

better brand free shipping email shopify free shipping
Image: Really Good Emails

BetterBrand, a company that “transforms carb-heavy foods into the least,” capitalizes on this method through their cart abandonment emails, effectively taking care of two birds with one stone.

They not only promote a free shipping offer but also compel shoppers who exit BetterBrand’s store to return and complete their purchases.

Display pop-up offers upon exit intent

Leverage exit-intent pop-ups that trigger when a visitor’s about to leave your site.

They’ll display a message about your free shipping offer, which will encourage people to stay and continue shopping.

mission meats free beef jerky shopify free shipping
Image: Mission Meats

A producer of grass-fed beef snacks, Mission Meats employs this strategy by pushing two offers through an exit-intent pop-up.

It primarily revolves around earning free beef jerky, which shoppers can receive by paying only for shipping (a good deal on its own).

However, if they aren’t interested, the pop-up then explains how buyers can unlock free shipping by hitting an order value of $60.

Create social graphics to promote

For your social media channels, design eye-catching graphics to highlight your free shipping offer clearly.

Then, to reach a wider audience and generate interest, share them across the social platforms where you’re active.

macarthur fitness insta free shipping shopify free shipping
Image: Instagram

Australia-based Macarthur Fitness Equipment does this well, using an extremely simple graphic that allows the free shipping offer to stand out alongside the associated promotional item, the EX-59 Elliptical Trainer.

macarthur promo code shipping shopify free shipping
Image: Macarthur Fitness Equipment

Since shipping can cost up to more than $100 AUD, the chance to avoid that expense becomes even more attractive.

Include it in your cart

During the checkout process when customers are viewing their carts, display a message notifying them how much more they need to spend to unlock free shipping.

Doing so can nudge them to increase their order values.

seattle chocolate progress bar shopify free shipping
Image: Seattle Chocolate Company

Seattle Chocolate Company, a producer of ethically sourced chocolates, makes good use of this simple yet persuasive strategy by showing a bar that indicates the order value needed for free shipping.

seattle chocolate free shipping bar shopify free shipping

Then, once a shopper places an item in their cart, they see it gradually fill up.

Have your partners promote it with a code

Give special trackable promo codes to social influencers, affiliates, and brand partners.

They’ll share these with their audiences, who can then unlock free shipping on their orders. This tactic lets you expand your reach and attract new customers.

lily rose free shipping deal shopify free shipping
Image: Instagram

A prime example is Copper Cow Coffee, which partnered with Denver-based style blogger Lily Rose for a campaign promoting their Advent Calendar that contains various pour-over coffees.

Throughout the holiday season, if customers find and apply Lily Rose’s code, they can purchase the item for $69, along with securing a free shipping offer.

Shopify free shipping FAQs

Finally, let’s answer a few questions we commonly see about Shopify free shipping.

Should I have free shipping on Shopify?

It depends on your type of business. If you sell large furniture, for instance, you may not be able to offset the high cost of storage and shipping with reasonable and competitive product pricing.

However, in general, the numbers show that free shipping works and is worth a try.

How do I give free shipping only to certain customers on Shopify?

If you want to limit free shipping to specific customers, you can generate custom codes for them that’ll apply free shipping to their orders.

Or, you can encourage people to join a loyalty or rewards program, which will help you keep your best consumers in a customer relationship manager.

Then, you can integrate that system with your Shopify store to offer free shipping to certain customer profiles when they log in.

Is free shipping worth it for small businesses?

Although free shipping comes with a high up-front cost, it also brings major returns in the form of more sales, higher conversion rates, and larger carts.

If you’re considering adding some form of free shipping to your small business, track conversion rates and AOV to see if you notice a difference before and after implementation.

How can I determine the threshold for free shipping in my online store?

One way is to take a look at your current AOV and average shipping cost to figure out where the former would offset the latter in terms of profit margin.

For example, say your current AOV is $20, average shipping cost per order is $5, and your best-selling item retails for $20 with a profit margin of $5.

In this case, if you make your minimum spend threshold for free shipping $40, you’d recoup the $5 shipping fee from the profits of your additional item sold.

What metrics should I track to measure the success of my free shipping strategies?

Keep an eye on the following metrics before and after offering free shipping and how they change alongside each other. For example, if you notice your shipping costs rising, does it correlate to a rise in AOV as well?

If applicable, split these metrics between orders with free versus paid shipping:
– Shipping fees
– Conversion rates
– Average cart values
– Customer lifetime value
– Return rate
– Loyalty program adoption rate
– Customer retention rate

What are some common mistakes to avoid when setting up free shipping in a Shopify store?

When introducing free shipping, make sure your settings are correct.

You may unintentionally offer it to all customers instead of only those from a certain zip code or who have hit your minimum order threshold.

Also, test the offer to make sure everything works as it should—you want to avoid sending a free shipping code that’s expired or doesn’t work.

If you have a custom setup, check for any exploits.

For example, if free shipping only applies to carts with a certain promotional item, can shoppers take advantage by adding the item, getting free shipping applied, then removing the item? Look for any bugs that might result in abuse.

Are there third-party apps or services that can enhance my Shopify store’s shipping capabilities?

Plenty of apps can expand your Shopify free shipping capabilities. Check out our curated list of our 30 favorite Shopify shipping apps on our blog.

Offer free shipping on your Shopify store for better conversions, cart values, and customer relationships

Offering free shipping through your Shopify store is a powerful strategy that can boost your brand in several key areas beyond simple profit margins.

Before taking action, though, review the different types of free shipping offers to determine the right one for your business model.

If you already provide free shipping, be sure your customers know about it and place reminders strategically throughout the buyer journey to gain more leads and sales.

By maximizing the allure of free shipping, you can create shopping experiences that keep customers coming back without fail.

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Build a better Shopify store<cta-title>Make your store look and feel as unique as your brand by customizing with the best page builder for Shopify.Start building for free

Rachel Go

Rachel is a remote marketing manager with a background in building scalable content engines. She creates content that wins customers for B2B ecommerce companies like MyFBAPrep, Shogun, and more. In the past, she has scaled organic acquisition efforts for companies like Deliverr and Skubana.

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