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I was recently shopping online at a pretty popular store’s website, and I found a shirt I liked for only $10.50. Score! I started the checkout process, entering my shipping address, billing address, etc, only to find out that, if I wanted the express shipping, it would cost me $16.95. That wasn’t even for overnight shipping. That was just to change the delivery time from 5-10 business days to 3-5 business days. Pay more for shipping than for the actual item I am purchasing? I don’t think so!

If I were to choose the normal standard shipping, it still would have cost me $5.95 for shipping. Now, I understand that $5.95 is not a crazy amount for shipping. Believe me, I’ve seen shipping cost a whole lot more than that. But there is no way I am a fan of the idea of spending half the amount of my item on shipping costs. Not cool unnamed online store, not cool!

They Can Afford It!

As a very frequent online consumer, I think companies are making a huge mistake when they don’t offer free shipping to their customers. Sure, you can make the argument that, they are being charged for those shipping costs, isn’t it only fair that I would be the one who would have to pay those costs? Personally, I don’t think so.

First off, is it unreasonable for me to think that they can afford to foot the bill on those shipping costs a little bit easier than I can? Let’s take a look at this company I was talking about above: the one who wanted to charge me $6 shipping on a $10 item. This specific company reported $700,000 in sales in their first year. I’m making… a lot less than that. So even though I know those costs add up, I think paying those fees wouldn’t affect their bottom line as negatively as the sales they are losing to people who don’t want to pay those shipping costs.

It’s Not Just About Money Here

But it’s not just about who has more money to pay for the shipping costs. Because, again, I understand that those costs could really add up on a large scale. It’s about customer service! When a company wants to get in a tug of war battle with me over shipping costs, it shows me that they don’t care about me as a customer. That is a bad way to start the relationship, especially if they want it to become a lasting relationship.

Many companies like Zappos, Nordstrom, and Piperlime understand the value of showing their customers how much they mean to them. They offer free shipping and returns on all orders, of any size. They are making a few sacrifices to tell their customers that they appreciate them. That they want to have them as a customer for a long time. That they want to become their new go-to resource for online shopping. And they’re willing to take a few small hits in order to achieve that goal.

Stores Who Charge for Shipping Are Losing Customers to Their Smarter Competitors

As online shoppers have experiences with the stores that go the extra mile by doing things like offering free shipping (and returns), they get a taste of what it’s like to work with a company that actually cares for them. They start to like the feeling of being appreciated. And then the worst thing for these other retailers happens: the customers begin to develop a loyalty to these customer service-savvy retailers. And you know what happens to the stingy retailers that are still charging for shipping? They get left in the dust.

A lot of companies have caught on by now. So many online companies are now offering free shipping, it is almost mandatory for a store to offer it for them to be able to compete. If not, they are consistently losing customers to their competitors. And they will continue to lose customers until they get with it and understand that they have to make smarter choices in order to obtain and retain customers. And as they do, we will all benefit.

Nicole writes for the blog where she covers tips and tricks for online shopping.