Today I wanted to talk really quickly about why I haven't chosen to comply with Etsy demand that I make everything in my store ship free over $35. Tips and ideas for if you are thinking about switching to free shipping (or NOT switching!)
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I know for some people the decision to offer free shipping or not is fraught with anxiety. I am not emotionally attached to my shops and so I think I am able to make solid business decisions based on my own reasons, rather than getting caught up in what Etsy wants or other sellers' anger and frustration.
Here are Top 5 reasons I don't choose to offer free shipping on everything in my vintage Etsy store!
1. I Am Ornery
Okay, let's get this out of the way early! I don't like being bossed around and the way that Etsy paired being found in search with being willing to offer free shipping seemed a little heavy handed.
I don't think that offering free shipping should be a decision made because of coersion, it should be a thoughtful part of your marketing strategy.
Additional resource :: Should You Offer Free Etsy Shipping?
2. I Drive A Considerable Amount of Traffic To My Own Store
Okay, let's call a spade a spade, I am in marketing and that means that I enjoy writing blog posts and making graphics to share on social media… whoo whoo!
If you are willing to spend time driving traffic to your own store, you are not in as much jeopardy because of losing Etsy's search traffic.
But, if you are driving all your own traffic, why wouldn't you set up your own store instead of using Etsy? GREAT QUESTION!
For my business it makes more sense to have Etsy doing the customer service, ads and email followups than me learning to do it myself!
I did an experiment where I drove all my own traffic to my Shopify store and the conversions were lower and I didn't have as many repeat buyers because I didn't have the whole system of followup that Etsy does.
Additional Resource :: Podcast… How To Market Your Shop On Pinterest Without Having To Have A Blog
3. It Isn't Fair To People Who Live Far Away From Me
If I was honest, this is what makes me the grumpiest!
Because I live in Florida, the East Coast costs less to ship to than the West Coast. If I made everything in my shop free shipping I would have to base the offset I raise my prices to cover the cost to ship to Washington state.
I am not going to go into the legalities of raising my prices to cover “free shipping”… I am a marketing person not a lawyer!
Say I am going to ship an 8 pound cast iron doorstop to North Carolina or Washington…. here are how the costs break down…
Retail cost to ship to NC – $29.80
Retail cost to ship to WA – $62.10
It costs roughly double to ship to Washington from Florida!
So if I was to “roll” the cost of shipping into the price, I would have to add $60+ to the price, EVEN IF someone from Georgia which is one state away bought it!
That just feels icky to me. I prefer to use the Calculated Shipping option and keep the price fair for everyone!
Additional Resource :: How To Get Free Shipping Supplies For Your Store!
4. My Products Are Uniquely Sized And Heavy
Because I sell antiques, there isn't one standard box size or weight that I ship often. And that is okay when I do the calculated shipping!
Every once in a while I mess up and think I can get something in a smaller box or that the packaging won't weigh what it ultimately does. When that happens I “eat” the cost of the overage because that is my own fault.
But if offer free shipping on everything in my store and I mess up, the liability on my end gets more and more dire.
For example, one time I underestimated how large a box would have to be to ship a wall hanging and I just barely managed to not lose money when you figure in the cost to buy it, packing materials, listing time and then the shipping cost.
I don't want to play Russian roulette with myself that way on every package I mail!
Additional Resource :: Ultimate Guide To Etsy Shipping & Etsy Shipping Tips
5. My Business Model Doesn't Support It
I have been a self employed business woman for almost 20 years now and have refined how I like my business to work best for me and my family.
Adding “free shipping” to all my products doesn't fit that model for a number of reasons… here are just a few!
Eating the average
One suggestion that I have heard for successfully offering free shipping is to “eat the average”. This means in the example above I wouldn't charge $30 or $60 for the shipping (highest and lowest costs), I would average them out and charge $45 and “eat” the $15 if I happened to sell my product to someone who lives far away.
Because many of my customers are in California, I would be eating a fair share of overages. Etsy doesn't know what my customer base looks like, they are just giving blanket advice to their own average of sellers.
Nope… no “eating” for me!
Refunding the difference
Here is another “great idea” that I have heard as a way to make things fair. Charge the highest amount then refund the overage to the buyer.
So first (and I am getting grumpier and grumpier writing these all out!), I like to appear to be a semi intelligent business woman. If I am contacting all my customers and saying, “oops I charged you too much” that will not be the case for much longer.
I also don't want to spend my time in the listing manager trying to refund random amounts of money to all kinds of different buyers. My goal is to have a streamlined, effective business, not deliberately make problems for me to solve later!
Whoa look at those prices!
If I was to add $60 (or even $30) to all my listings, that could make my prices look considerably higher than all the other sellers in my niche.
Granted, they have shipping costs too, but some have chosen not to offer free shipping and some ARE willing to eat some of the costs.
That is just not the way I choose to run my business.
Why You Should Offer Free Shipping
There are some times that I think you should offer free shipping!
If your items are small – I have some smaller items in my shop that can ship via first class mail, those I offer free shipping on! Regardless of what Etsy says, I can pick and choose different items rather than having a “blanket” free shipping policy for my shop.
If everyone in your niche offers free shipping – Okay, not EVERYONE in a niche will be offering free shipping, but if the majority of the people in your niche offer free shipping you better figure it out how to make it work for your shop!
If you are selling a commodity product – Say you sell craft supplies and there are “standard” prices for your products. You may need to offer free shipping just to keep up with the other sellers who are selling the same or similar items.
Additional Resource :: Etsy Shipping Tips – How To Reduce Your Shipping Costs
Why You Shouldn't Offer Free Shipping
So when can you decide NOT to play along with Etsy?
You sell unique, one of a kind items – If your item is unique and you are not competing with a bunch of different sellers, you can be more free about choosing not to offer free shipping!
You have a good marketing plan for getting your own traffic – I am not currently relying on Etsy SEO to get views to my shop. If you are marketing your business using your own Instagram or blog, you aren't as threatened by Etsy pushing you down in the search.
Because you don't want to! – You can choose whether you want to offer free shipping… it really is your choice! Do what is best for your business! I am not the only one who is not complying … Etsy's stock sinks as merchants balk at free shipping
Additional Resource :: Reusing Shipping Supplies For Etsy or Ebay… Tacky or Cost Effective?