Hey guys, Vic here…
Just wanted to take a moment to discuss the “myth” of free shipping. A lot of people consider free shipping to be a staple of online shopping. They have to have free shipping if they’re going to buy online. They think that the best deals always include free shipping. And let’s face it – if you’re shopping at home online, paying for shipping can get annoying. However, if you are looking for the cheapest online shopping and free shipping just don’t go together.
I have been selling on eBay and Amazon for over 10 years now, and so today I’d like to tell you that free shipping isn’t actually free. I know, I know…this may come as a shock to some people. But free shipping is not free. Someone has to pay for it. FedEx and UPS certainly don’t offer free shipping. They charge me every time I ship a package. The US Postal service doesn’t ship for free either!
So who pays for the shipping?
Well, as a seller, if I paid for the shipping, I wouldn’t last very long in business. So that counts me/the seller out. Ebay and Amazon don’t pay for the shipping, as they too are running a business. Who’s left? Well, that leaves you, the buyer, to pay for the shipping.
So even when you are receiving “free shipping”, you are actually still paying for the shipping. And it gets worse! Not only do you pay for shipping, but you also pay a higher price than you would have if you had just bought the item without free shipping included.
Shopping sites and online boutiques have a business to run, as I mentioned above. So they have to cover their costs, and add a profit on top. Shipping is a cost. We as sellers wouldn’t last for more than a few months if we actually paid for the shipping.
Free shipping only benefits eBay & Amazon, not you the buyer. When you see “free shipping”, that means that the cost of shipping is included in the purchase price. So when you are getting an item shipped for free, that item will often cost more than the same item with calculated shipping. Why? Because items with free shipping have one flat price. The seller doesn’t know what zip code you will be purchasing from. So they have to charge you the highest rate that it could possibly cost to ensure a profitable sale.
For example, if you are shipping from Los Angeles, a 2 lb package shipping to a city away, would cost about $5.50. That same package shipped to New York will cost about $11. So….if that seller in Los Angeles wants to offer free shipping, AND ensure a profit for each sale, he/she has to add $11 on top of their starting price. So if you live near Los Angeles, you could have had the item for $5.50 in shipping, but you wanted it shipped for free, so you are paying $6 more so that you can get it for “free”. Not the best deal if you ask me.
$6 might not be much, but if that was a large package, it would cost roughly $25-30 more. The lesson as always….free shipping = more expensive shipping.
So what is a work around? Look for sellers that are local, or at least within a few states away, and look for those that charge calculated shipping. If they only offer free shipping, ask what the cost would be if they charged you for shipping and the item price separately. You’d be amazed at how much you can save by just asking that question.