Fulfillment is often an afterthought for sellers – after all, “sellers” want to sell. Your eBay fulfillment strategy, though, has a much bigger impact on sales than you might realize. If you’re not offering fast and free shipping, you’re severely limiting your growth. And if you don’t have the right provider, you’ll pay an arm and a leg for that shipping, eating up precious profits.
In this article, we’ll highlight the importance of fast and free shipping on eBay (if you’re not already convinced) and give a primer on your different options for eBay fulfillment. By the end, you’ll feel much more confident in your ability to turn operations into a growth driver for your business.
Why is Fast and Free Shipping Important for eBay Fulfillment?
1. Online Shoppers Want Fast and Free Shipping
Thanks to Amazon Prime, online shoppers now expect their orders to arrive quickly and for free. In fact, a recent McKinsey study found that over 90% of customers view 2- to 3-day delivery as the baseline for eCommerce. eBay sellers used to be relatively immune from these rising customer expectations, but those days are over.
Ignore fast and free shipping at your own risk – 75% of US consumers expect free shipping even on orders under $50, and 63% of all cart abandonment is caused by unexpected shipping costs.
eBay now automatically applies “Free delivery in 2/3/4 days” tags to qualifying products – like the Fast ‘N Free badge that preceded it, this marker gives shoppers exactly what they want. eBay sellers with the tags stand out in search results and convert better, driving higher revenue.
2. Improve your Seller Rating
Fast and free shipping is a key rating factor that can help to boost your eBay seller rating. Shipping time and shipping fees both have their own line item in “Detailed seller ratings” on eBay, and of course, a high seller rating has a huge impact on eBay sales.
Furthermore, qualification for the lucrative Top Rated Seller Program depends in part on fast shipping – so if you want to be in the top echelon of eBay sellers, you’re going to need fast and free shipping.
3. Increase Impressions
Free shipping helps you win more impressions and clicks.
eBay gives users the ability to filter by “Free shipping”, meaning that if you’re charging for shipping, some buyers are completely excluding you from consideration. Even if they don’t filter out “Free shipping”, many others will sort their search results by “Price + Shipping” – that’s right; eBay’s price sort includes the cost of shipping, so if you undercut your competitor on product price, but have a shipping fee, you’ll still lose out.
On top of that, eBay prominently writes “Free shipping” for products that don’t charge for shipping, making them stand out against others that come with hefty shipping fees.
The combination of filters, sorts, and “Free shipping” copy all combine to make it an excellent way to boost your search page results on eBay.
4. Lower Cart Abandonment and Boost Conversion Rate
The impact of fast and free shipping isn’t limited to the product search experience. In truth, it makes the biggest difference once customers are on the product page itself. Consider the following statistics on online consumer behavior:
- 9 out of 10 people say free shipping is the #1 incentive that would make them shop online more often
- 47% of people say they typically back out of purchases if they realize shipping isn’t free
- 30% of people will wait to purchase until there’s a free shipping offer
Consumer preferences are clear – they convert more often and abandon their shopping cart less frequently when they’re offered free shipping.
5. Improve Customer Lifetime Value
Shoppers will often go the extra mile for free shipping, which opens up creative strategies to boost your repeat purchase and retention rates.
Invesp found that 58% of customers will add items to a cart to qualify for free shipping, 47% will search for an online promo code, and 31% will join a loyalty program.
If you don’t want to offer free shipping right off the bat, then you can introduce an order value minimum or offer free shipping to people that sign up for a loyalty program. Both of these actions will improve your customer lifetime value – bigger carts are self-explanatory, and loyalty program members repeat shop again and again.
Overview of Options for eBay Fulfillment Services
So, you’re convinced – you want to offer fast and free shipping on eBay. But how do you do it without breaking the bank? Here are the pros and cons for the different ways you can fulfill orders.
1. Self fulfillment
eBay allows you to ship your items yourself. With in-house fulfillment, you own the process, the profits, and the risks.
The benefit, of course, is that you have full control over the fulfillment process. You can choose where and how your products are stored, ensuring that they’re in the best condition possible when they get to customers. If there are errors in fulfillment, you have the power to immediately fix issues.
The main drawbacks of self-fulfillment are that it’s extremely time-consuming and it isn’t cost-effective in the long run. If you’re fulfilling your own orders, your success comes with a price – more and more of your time will be consumed by managing operations.
If you’d like to learn more about how to go it alone, here’s a more in-depth look at how to offer free shipping and still make a profit.
2. Local pickup
This eBay fulfillment option is ideal if you sell large or bulky items. It allows you to arrange pickup with the buyer so you can avoid shipping costs and price your items even cheaper.
You’ll need to provide a ZIP code, at least one electronic payment method (in addition to Pay on pickup), customer service, and generate your Proof of pickup to protect yourself in case of “item not received” disputes.
Of course, local pickup limits your market to your locality or contiguous areas. Sellers with serious growth ambitions will need to combine local pickup with another fulfillment option.
3. Drop shipping
eBay sellers can also use drop shipping to fulfill orders directly from a wholesale supplier. Under this arrangement, your supplier will deliver orders directly to your customers.
Your supplier handles the entire fulfillment process on your behalf using the buyer information available to them. It’s simple and will dramatically reduce your overhead compared to self fulfillment. However, your customers will still hold you responsible for timely delivery and overall customer satisfaction. If the dropshipper makes a mistake, you’re the one that pays the price.
For quality, you don’t get to inspect the product before it gets to the customer. You have to rely entirely on the dropshipper, and when things go wrong, you’re left on the outside looking in.
Just as importantly, your customers won’t be delighted by fulfillment provided by dropshippers. Since they’re almost always shipping from one location, the delivery won’t be fast for customers across the country – and as we explained above, that’s a critical piece of modern eCommerce. Since they’re often shipping long distances, the shipping is more expensive than it needs to be as well.
If you choose this option, don’t list an item on eBay and then purchase it from another retailer or marketplace that ships directly to your customer. If you do, you’ll face sanctions ranging from listing cancellations to forfeiture of fees paid or payable to your account.
4. 3PL fulfillment
If you’re looking for a fulfillment service that offers the benefits of self-fulfillment without all the hassle, then using a third-party provider is your best bet.
The best 3PLs will give you access to a nationwide network of warehouses and carriers, so shipping products will take less time than if you were going it alone – in most cases within one or two days. Furthermore, if a 3PL places your inventory across the country strategically, you’ll always pay ground rates for shipping, so fast delivery will come at low prices.
Like dropshipping, trusting a third party means giving up some control over your product before it gets to the customer. This challenge can become apparent with 3PLs that aren’t built for eCommerce, as products get damaged in their rush to fulfill orders. Modern 3PL networks that specialize in eCommerce, though, have very low defect rates and may even improve on your own delivery record.
This can introduce complexity and increase your handling fees. A 3PL Request for Proposal can help you to weigh your options.
Why Cahoot Is the Best Option for eBay Fulfillment
Cahoot’s eBay fulfillment service will power affordable fast and free shipping for your listings, increasing revenue and margin. Our best-in-class fulfillment network partners with eBay sellers to make fulfillment a breeze – we can get you up-and-running with an improved delivery experience in as little time as it takes you to send us inventory.
With Cahoot, your listings will automatically get eBay 2-day, 3-day, and 4-day fast shipping tags (formerly Fast N’ Free Shipping), boosting conversion.