Holiday Series: The Lure of Free Shipping

free-shipping-blogHoliday shoppers love free shipping. In fact, in 2012, 20% of them said it was the most important factor they considered as they browsed online that year, according to FreeShipping.org. And search agency CPC Strategy reports that 44% of shoppers will abandon their online shopping carts—potentially abandoning your products—if shipping costs are too high. Ouch!

So you may want to offer free shipping when the holidays hit. Shoppers will seek it out. But don’t worry. Catering to these bargain hunters doesn’t have to make you go broke.

The Keys to Success

One option is to build your shipping costs into the price of your products. Part of your holiday season prep should be knowing exactly how much it will cost to ship each of your items. Use that data to slightly increase your product prices.

And don’t forget to include the cost of your packaging materials! Bubble mailers, packing tape, and Styrofoam peanuts generally aren’t free and should be factored into your costs.

Reward Your Followers

Another option for offering free shipping on OpenSky—without changing the settings or pricing on all of your products—is to create a Coupon Code specifically for your store. Check out this tutorial for instruction on creating a special Code to share with your followers on OpenSky, social media and your email list.

Going this route allows you to test how shoppers respond to free shipping offers compared to percentage-off discounts. By measuring your results, you can weigh the costs against the benefits, and decide which types of promotions are right for your business.

Finding a Happy Medium

If you sell products in a variety of sizes and weights, it may be beneficial to offer free shipping only on certain goods, for instance, light weight items.

You can safely ship them using USPS First Class Mail in small padded envelopes. Costs are minimal for both postage and supplies, and First Class Mail is a quick and easy way to ship smaller products.

Try Tiered Shipping

OpenSky also offers an option called “Tiered Shipping” that allows you to offer discounted shipping rates to shoppers who purchase multiple items from you. In the shipping section of a “Product Info” page, you can set the shipping price in the first column (the price for shipping the product if ordered alone) and the “With another item” price (the price for shipping if the item is ordered along with something else).

In the example below, you can see that this particular product ships for $5.95 when ordered by itself, but ships for free when another item is ordered:

tieredshipping

Click here to find out more about how to adjust your tiered shipping settings.

As you can see, free shipping doesn’t need to be a big hassle during the holidays, and there are ways to effectively cut the costs of offering it (while still keeping customers happy).

Happy shipping!

National Free Shipping Day & #FastShip

National Free Shipping Day (#freeshippingday)

On Wednesday, December 18th OpenSky will participate in National Free Shipping Day. This is the day when online retailers offer free shipping to shoppers for the day.  It’s designed to fall later in the holiday shopping window in order to drive orders on products that can still ship and arrive safely without expedited shipping (which means increased prices for shoppers)

To participate in this program, simply opt-in to the Rewards Free Shipping Program in your Merchant Toolkit. Here’s how:

  1. Visit your Dashboard
  2. Click on the Promotions tab
  3. Scroll down and check the box next to Participate in Rewards Free Shipping. 

Once you opt-in, your products be set to ship for free on Wed, Dec 18th (and future Free Shipping promotions organized by OpenSky). Click here to read more details on the Rewards Free Shipping program. 

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Holiday Fast Shipping

Come December, the expectations for accurate and timely fulfillment are at an all-time high. But if you’re able to comfortably and confidently ship products late in the shopping season, you can still see a nice increase in order volume.

If you can swing it, there’s two things you’ll be able to do next week to communicate your ability to ship late in the shopping season to shoppers:

1) Opt-In to FastShip – Visit the Promotions tab in your Merchant Toolkit to opt-in to FastShip and select a cut-off date for your shipments (Wed, 12/18; Thurs, 12/19, etc.)

fastship

This messaging will be displayed for shoppers on product pages. It will also trigger a visual call-out in the form of a banner that’s automatically applied to all the products in your shop (similar to what you see on products that are marked as exclusive in your toolkit)

fastship

2)  Create Posts using #fastship. Once you opt-in to FastShip , you can use #fastship in your posts to further categorize these items on OpenSky.  But remember – before posting, go the extra distance to set the proper expectations for shoppers by over communicate your personal shipping cut-off dates, details and policies on product pages.  It’s great to drive orders late in the shopping season, but negligible if the orders don’t arrive to the shopper on time.

If you’re managing shopper expectations properly, you’re doing your part to uphold the standards and level of quality set by fellow Merchants using OpenSky to sell.  And it’s the Customer Satisfaction you’re creating that will drive repeat purchases for you (and other merchants) in the future, while simultaneously turning shoppers into a brand evangelist that spread the word to friends and family about your brand (and others).

10 Ways to Stand Out & Drive Sales During the Biggest Shopping Weekend of the Year

Black Friday kicks off the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

Shoppers experience ‘sale’ messaging overload between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They’ll see deals everywhere they look. Stand out with sales that are clear, creative, drive urgency, provide value and most of all, make sense for you. Combine interesting sales opportunities with customer service, showcase your product expertise, and focus on your core competencies as a business.

Here are the 10 tactics you can use to set yourself up for success.

1. Market your sales before they launch

All too often, shoppers learn about a sale once it’s already launched, or even worse, when it’s already over. Why? They weren’t given any time to prepare for what’s on the way by the Seller. Use the time leading up to Black Friday to begin marketing sales you’re planning for the weekend. Big Box retailers have been doing that in newspapers forever. As a shopper, you know the doorbuster for Black Friday before you head to the store, don’t you? Replicate that strategy online. Try to get shoppers to schedule a visit to your shop over the holiday weekend by sharing teasers for what you have planned.

2. Create Doorbusters#doorbuster

The name of the game is getting traffic (or visitors) to your OpenSky page between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Create a few doorbusters that help catch the attention of someone browsing for a great deal. Regularly, doorbusters exceed a 50% discount,  include a GWP (gift with purchase, more on that below), and are available in a very limited quantity.

3. Create Time Sensitive Promotions

Create urgency and drive engagement by creating limited time offers.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday are perfect candidates for 1-Day Sales. But don’t be afraid to push the envelope – how about 4 Hour Sales throughout the course of the day? Or a sale every hour? (if  the size of your catalog permits).  Take shoppers on a journey throughout the weekend – make it fun. Make it a game.

4. Offer Free Shipping

This weekend, you aren’t just vying for sales against online sellers – you’re competing with the brick & mortar stores that don’t any charge shipping whatsoever. Solve this by offering Free Shipping for the weekend. Take this variable off the table completely, making it a non-issue for any prospective buyer.

5. Advertise the price after discount

Don’t make a shopper work to figure out the actual cost of an item after a discount. If you’re offering 30% off, tell shoppers what the cost is as checkout.  An $42 item with a 30% discount ends up costing the shopper $29.40.  Sounds a lot cheaper than $42, doesn’t it?  Use that final price as an asset in your messaging.

6. Create Buy 1, Get 1 Deals#bogo

Commonly referred to as a BOGO offer, buy one, get one sales are a great way to communicate clear savings to a shopper. Buy one and get one for free.  Can’t get much clearer than that.  But be careful – not every item is a candidate for a BOGO sale. Do people really need two navy blue winter jackets?

7. Create Buy 1, Get 1 Half OFF Sales

The cousin of BOGO is the commonly used Buy 1, Get 1 Half OFF sale.  It has a similar effect on the shopper and is a bit kinder to your margin, but remember – this weekend isn’t the time to hold back. If you’re going to drive sales, it’s time to get aggressive.

8. Gifts with Purchase (GWPs)

This is a BOGO deal in disguise, and with more possibilities.  Think for the shopper and give them the opportunity to buy one item, and get a little something extra as an added bonus for buying.  If you sell Pancake Mix, throw in some Syrup for free. If you sell a necklace, throw in an affordable pair of earrings for free.  Give shoppers the nudge they need to buy in the moment.

9. Launch New Products

What better weekend to create some intrigue for your existing customer base?  Add some new products to your store and advertise them. Exclusive launches of new products perk of the ears of your previous customers, driving clicks, traffic and sales.

10. Create Bundles with Savings

Tis the season for gift sets, gift baskets and bundling.  Create an easy way for the shopper looking for the perfect gift.  Think for them by creating bundles that make the shopping experience stress free.

Make sure you’re tuned in over the next 9 days, as we’ll be sharing new features, updates and community wide marketing initiatives that can help land you sales and exposure over the holiday weekend.

Free Shipping – Today Through Sunday

We’re offering Free Shipping  to OpenSky members TODAY, Thursday, August 22nd through Sunday, August 25th!

  • How does it work?  All products offered by merchants participating in this program will be marked as Free Shipping during this time period and members will enjoy this great incentive!  Remember, during this period the merchant is responsible for the shipping cost if you are opted into the program.  It’s a great sales driver, so we encourage you to participate!
  • How do I participate?  To opt in, simply go into your merchant dashboard and click “Account” and then “Details.”  Scroll down to Promotional Settings and check the Free Shipping program box if you would like to participate