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In this day and age, most of our shopping is done online. We live in a world with unlimited resources to give us what we need when we need it. But this kind of luxury comes at a price, the price of shipping. A lot of us pay it without a second thought while others hunt for a better deal. But are you actually paying for the shipping? And when you are given free shipping, it is actually free? It’s important that we as consumers take a closer look.

Consumers can spend hours looking for the best deal and weighing their options. A lot of the time, they will opt for the option with free shipping. On one website, they see the same product is cheaper, but that they will also have to pay for shipping. Choosing the free shipping option is appealing, but may not make much of a difference. There is often a catch with this option that many people fail to realize.

Many sites such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target offer free shipping if you spend a certain amount of money or enter a paid subscription. Although some consumers believe they are saving money in the long run, they are only feeding into the retailer’s greater scheme: for the customers to buy more to make their purchase worth it. In the end, not paying for shipping can end with you paying a lot more than you would have before.

Studies show that 46% paid for shipping when they wanted the order while 45% reviewed the order after factoring in free shipping, but ultimately paid for shipping. When it comes to paid subscriptions such as Amazon, 47% of shoppers will sign up to buy one order so they can secure free shipping, but just half of those who have opted for these programs have typically signed up for only one program. 

At this point, “free shipping” has become a tactical ploy for retailers to use in order to gain more business and keep consumers from going to the competition. Free shipping is not exactly free in the long run, just motivation for customers to purchase from a certain retailer.