Sales - why you should offer free shipping
But, unless you have a *brick and mortar* location, where people can pick up your products themselves, you really shouldn't charge for shipping. There are a lot of costs involved with running a business, and you shouldn't expect your customers to pay for these things. Please let me explain.
If, instead of offering your products strictly from the web, you had an actual location, you would, of course, have to pay rent for that location. Certainly more than what you are paying for your website! And don't forget electricity, water, that sort of thing. If there is a parking lot for your customers, you are helping to pay for that. And even if you hire someone at minimum wage to wait on customers, it's quite an investment. But when your customer arrives at your location to buy something, you wouldn't ring up separate charges for these costs. And that's why you shouldn't charge separately for shipping.
From your customer's point of view, if they can just go pick it up from a local location, it's free. Never mind that gas is approaching four dollars a gallon, and that they have to pay for their vehicle, including insurance, maintenance, that sort of thing. The perception is that driving somewhere is essentially free, maybe using up a buck or two of gas. So, if it was up to them, they would just drop by your location the next time that they are out and buy your product, and there would be no cost for shipping.
If you do have an actual location, and it would be inconvenient for someone, say, in Australia, to buy your products, by all means offer to ship it for a fee. My local grocery store, Safeway, will deliver groceries to my house for a fee. To me, it's well worth it, as my time is worth more than it would take to drive over to Safeway, pick up everything, stand in line, etc. In this instance a shipping, or delivery charge, is appropriate.
Shipping, like all other costs associated with running an online business, is your responsibility as the owner of the business to pay. If you can't adjust your prices to cover your costs, then maybe you shouldn't be doing business this way. There are a lot of other ways to retail products, the web is just one of them. It's worth considering.
Posted by Brad Hall