How you can use shipping as a marketing tool

The traditions of marketing have shifted a lot and will continue to shift from the constant growth and change within the eCommerce world.

Shipping has become a huge part of a customer’s decision to make a purchase or to abandon cart. Which means your shipping offering has to be attractive and competitive while fitting into your business needs and strategy.

Since shipping holds such a high influence over your customers, it shouldn’t be ignored when developing your marketing strategy! You can easily use shipping to bring in new customers, recover lost customers and yup, even keep customers coming back for more.

So, how do you do it?

Push customers to buy more

A super popular promotion seen over and over again is the “free shipping for purchases over x amount.” Not only does the free shipping option excite customers, but they’re more likely to buy more just to qualify for the promotion.

Shopify free shipping offer

When your customer finds out they’re $5 away from free shipping, they can either pay $5 in shipping or add another item to their order. The route most people would take is pretty obvious; why not get more products and free shipping?!

Keep free will alive

Give your customers the feeling of choice. Do they want to receive their order for free, or do they want to get it quicker? This could tie into the free shipping we just mentioned, which also allows customers to feel like they’re choosing to receive shipping for free.

When an order is placed online, there’s no other way to get that item to the customer’s door other than to ship it to them. So, customers may believe shipping is a requirement that they shouldn't be responsible for.

A great way to help a customer understand these costs are to be as transparent as possible and to give them the chance to qualify for free shipping.

We’ve already discussed qualifying, so let’s take a dive into transparency. Showing customers that they’re paying to get their shipments delivered in a timely manner helps them understand why they’re paying for shipping services.

You can still offer free shipping, but when doing so, make sure you show the customer that they’ll have to wait when choosing this option. And, for the faster/more costly options, show them how soon their item will arrive. They’ll most likely understand that they’re paying for convenience.

Cart abandonment recovery

Unexpected shipping costs can lead your customers to quickly abandon their cart. But, just because they’ve left the site, doesn’t mean they should be immediately counted as a loss.

If your customer made it all the way to checkout, you know they’re interested in the product(s) they started to order. So they should be a little easier to win over than a brand new customer.

You know what they’re interested in, what they were initially willing to spend, and hopefully you have a system in place to save who that person was.

Now you can send an email offering the customer free or discounted shipping if they return to the site and complete the order. This should be sent to the customer as soon as possible.

email offering for abandoned carts

Most shoppers who abandon cart due to unexpected shipping costs will immediately turn to a competitor to find something lower, or they’ll turn to offline shopping.

Customer retention

Now, let’s say you’ve won the customer over and they’ve completed an order already.

At this point, your goal is to ensure your customer returns. Shipping actually plays a nice sized role in getting your customers excited to return to your store to place an order.


Presentation is key to closing the deal and creating a positive experience for the customer. Not only can packaging serve as a marketing tool, but it can create brand advocates! If you’re really trying to get your customers excited about your brand, you’ll want to get creative with packaging, or even include a personalized note.

Aside from looking cool, customers want to receive packages that are in good condition, and expect the package to protect the items they ordered. It makes for a horrible experience when customers receive a damaged item in the mail.

Meeting expectations

Timely delivery is always important, but this especially holds true for customers who’ve paid for expedited shipping. If you set the expectation that the customer will receive an order by a certain date, it’s important to get the order delivered on time.

tracking numbers for shipments

A great way to keep customers happy and in the know is to provide tracking for shipments. So, even if the delivery is a bit late, the customer can stay updated and aren’t left hanging on the day they expected their delivery to arrive.

Follow up promotions

Offering shipping discounts for returning customers is a great way to make your customers feel appreciated and entice them to come back and buy more. You can set up automated emails to send out once a customer purchases an item, or you can include the promotion code in your personalized thank you note within the package.

Offering Subscriptions

Turning your business into a subscription model is a great way to achieve customer retention and monthly recurring revenue.

Great shipping policies get your customers excited to buy from you, and will help you win over customers from the competition. When considering the above tactics and tips, make sure they fit into your overall business strategy; shipping is not one size fits all and should be tailored to fit your business.

Happy shipping!

 Read Next: Increase Sales With A One Click Upsell


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Guest post: Ashley Overton

Written by Guest post: Ashley Overton

Ashley is the Marketing Coordinator at ShipperHQ and dedicates her time to educating merchants the opportunities ShipperHQ can open for their business. She is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where she fell in love with the study of strategic communications and marketing.

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