Free Shipping Bites Into Online Retailers
from the read-this-free-with-$25-order dept
Three-fourths of online retailers offered free shipping promotions during the holiday season, a research firm says, and all that free shipping is hurting their bottom lines, particularly in light of rising fuel costs being passed along by shipping companies. Analysts say that the promotions were a driver of a strong online shopping season, and that shoppers will expect to see them again next year, putting pressure on retailers to again offer them. Shipping fees have been a bugbear for many online sellers, as they try to come up with an ideal balance between covering costs and keeping prices low enough to attract buyers. Amazon's aggressiveness isn't helping matters, creating an expectation among consumers that free shipping is part and parcel of online shopping. It's quite a change from when shipping charges were profit centers for online retailers, and it's questionable if all this free shipping is sustainable in the long term. Online retailers need to remain cogiznant of -- and be more upfront about -- items' total cost, including shipping and any applicable taxes. If they can't keep that under those of brick-and-mortar stores, something's not right. It sounds like, though, shoppers can expect to see less free shipping, but maybe more interesting interpretations of the term.