Image: Etsy

Etsy announced they are improving the marketing section in Etsy’s Shop Manager to make it easier for sellers to offer free shipping.

While marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay have been pushing for free shipping, Etsy has not been as pro-active in promoting free shipping to sellers.

There have been numerous surveys and studies that claim free shipping improves conversion. Some even suggest as much as 90 percent improvement in conversion.

When Walmart lowered free shipping threshold, Amazon followed even after they had just raised it. Some smaller sellers are skeptical that free shipping helps their business but often find themselves forced to use it to receive better search results placement on marketplaces.

There is probably a lot of truth to sales increases when offering free shipping. But one needs to look at their competition and the products they sell to make the final decision.

Key factor is that shipping is a cost and for smaller sellers that don’t have the shipping discounts of the big guys, shipping costs are a major factor.

It only makes sense to offer free shipping if the item is still profitable. Something Walmart and Amazon “average out” and not look at on a per unit basis.


Unlike most marketplaces that basically force you to choose between free shipping and a shipping fee, Etsy is trying a little different approach.

Beginning now, sellers can create sales in the Marketing section of the Shop Manager that offer free shipping. These free shipping sales will not go live until October 9 to a limited number of sellers.

By October 16 free shipping promotions will be available to all sellers. In essence, this is a phase-in process for free shipping.

The company created a landing page to explain the process on how to create a Free Shipping promotion.

If you are selling on Etsy, will you give it a try? Do you think free shipping helps sales? Let us know in comments section below.

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  1. We feel free shipping is a big factor in conversion but can’t absorb the full cost. You have to increase product pricing to do so and then battle with what the market will bear for your products’ pricing. Will someone pay $5-10 more for a product just because it is free shipping? That is the battle we go through all the time. I’d be interested in any studies/metrics that show info on that.

    1. Pretty much all the studies I have seen on this subject don’t get into what happens if you raise prices to cover for free shipping. There are a lot of variables that impact conversion if you have to raise your price. What are your competitors doing? Are you selling branded products, unbranded mass merchandise, or unique products? Do you have repeat business? If so, what is your average customer spending per order and is there a value to offer free shipping to gain a customer even on lower priced items?

      The only real suggestion I can make is to do a little experimenting. Take two products that are similar and raise the price on one and offer free shipping. Obviously, you can’t make a decision on just one item, so you probably have to test 10 or so different items. A/B testing is going to be your best bet to find out if free shipping can help even if you had to raise the price for it.

      It’s a tough problem to tackle for some sellers. My own experience in my industry showed that free shipping worked well, but I was selling branded merchandise that was price controlled by the manufacturer. So there was margin to do that.

      I did make a note of your study request and I will see if I can dig up something more definitive. If so, I will make sure we make it into a story.


  2. I try to keep a price point that if the item I make can be sold for $25 or under, the buyer can pay shipping. My handmades that are priced higher than $40 all have the shipping fees included into the price and I ship Priority Mail, which I state in my listings, and which my buyers love!
    If the item is heavy (like many of the items in my vintage shop on Etsy), the buyer pays shipping.
    If the item is really large, I tend to price the item with free US shipping in the price, just to sell that huge thing. Insurance costs are in that number, too. Vintage wooden skis are heavy and big, but they sell if the buyer isn’t scared off by $110 shipping showing on the page.

    A further note, Etsy is putting shop reviews on the listing page ahead of the shipping cost notices. Yes, its nice to know it’s a five star seller, but I comparison shop – I want to know right away how much I have to put out for shipping and how soon I might get it (some shops ship every day, some only once a week and one shop said their processing time could be three weeks(!!! as in, do they have the actual item, or are they a re-seller and have to go find it?).
    Unless its a custom made handmade item, there is no way I would wait three weeks for vintage.

  3. I refuse to deceive my customers and offer free shipping. Let face it, if you have a package that costs $20 to ship from CA to NY, I can’t make up the difference, there is no profit in my pocket. I already don’t charge for the box and the packing. I would need to raise the cost of the item, to cover the shipping loss. Already making handmade, most of us don’t charge a hourly fee. Most of us work as much a 12 hours a day for very little profit. I’m extremely grateful there is a platform to sell on, like Etsy, but by penalizing us by dropping us in search, many of us will be driven out of business if we offer free shipping, There is no honest way around it, it not free if I need to increase the cost of an item. This is an unfair practice to pass on to my wonderful customers that have supported me for 10 years on Etsy, I will not hurt my repetition, I would rather close my shop and move on. I’m 72 years old, and for over 30 years of designing I have never cheated my customers, and I will not offer free shipping to please an e-commerce site to make them rich.

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