More and more, online buyers have come to expect perks like a free shipping service. And many will shop around if your store doesn’t offer it.

In fact, a PayPal study found that 43% of shoppers abandon carts because they feel shipping charges are too high. On the other hand, offering free shipping can eat into your already slim retail profit margins.

Calculating a Free Shipping Minimum Spend Threshold

To calculate a free shipping minimum spend threshold, first analyze your average order value (AOV). This metric can be obtained by dividing your total revenue by the number of orders. Consider increasing this value to determine your free shipping threshold, encouraging customers to spend more per order. 

You also need to factor in your profit margins and the additional costs of shipping to ensure you’re not eroding your profits. For instance, if your AOV is $45 with a profit margin of 20%, you might set your free shipping threshold at $60 to encourage larger orders while still maintaining a profitable margin

Thankfully, there are clever ways to configuring your eCommerce shipping strategy to alleviate the cost of free shipping. Here’s how:

1. Limit Free Shipping to Certain Locations

Limit your free shipping by geography. You can save your free shipping offer for the people in your country or region.

For example, shipping to Alaska, Hawaii and across borders is generally more costly than shipping to the contiguous 48 states. 

How to limit free shipping to a certain zone: You can easily set a Shipping Rule in ShipperHQ to limit free shipping.

Read our guide on “How to Set Free Shipping for a Specific Zone” here.

2. Set Promotional Thresholds

As shoppers, we’ve all run into online stores offering “Free shipping on purchases over $50.” Why not be that store?

The threshold persuades shoppers who may have visited your store for one thing to add extra items to their carts. Plus, it ensures you make enough profit on the sale to cover the cost of free shipping.

To manage the costs of free shipping, you can implement several strategies. First, consider bulk purchasing shipping supplies to secure volume discounts. Second, negotiate rates with multiple carriers to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Third, integrating a shipping software solution can automate rate comparisons and optimize shipping methods based on cost-efficiency. Lastly, consider utilizing hybrid services such as UPS SurePost or FedEx SmartPost. These services leverage both the provider’s network and the USPS for final delivery, offering lower rates.

How set promotional shipping thresholds: In ShipperHQ, you can set promotional thresholds in just a couple minutes by adding a new Filter and Shipping Rule.

Find out how either by checking out our step-by-step guide on “How to Offer Free UPS Ground Shipping on Orders Over $X” or by watching this quick walkthrough.

The Advantages of Free Shipping Offers

Free shipping offers can have transformative effects on e-commerce businesses. Firstly, they can increase the average order value, as customers are incentivized to reach the minimum spend threshold for free shipping. 

Secondly, they can substantially reduce cart abandonment, a common problem caused by unexpected shipping costs added at checkout. 

Thirdly, by meeting customer expectations of free shipping, businesses can boost customer loyalty and drive repeat purchases. 

Finally, in an increasingly competitive e-commerce landscape, offering free shipping can distinguish your business from others that charge for delivery. 

Moreover, consumers perceive free shipping as a significant value-add, often preferring it over discounts on products.

3. Limit Free Shipping to Certain Products

Offering free shipping on a refrigerator is likely going to cut into your margin on said refrigerator, and on other sales.

To prevent this from happening, you can limit free shipping to lightweight products only.

How to limit free shipping to certain products: Login to ShipperHQ and create a “Shipping Group.” From here, you can exclude any product(s) you want from any free shipping promotions your store offers.

Read all about “How to Exclude Certain Products from Free Shipping on Orders Over $X” here.

4. Offer Free Shipping to Certain Customer Groups

They say you’re not supposed to pick favorites. But honestly, segmenting customers is a great way to make more bang for your buck on free shipping.

This can include segmenting frequent buyers, long-time customers, big spenders, or customers in a certain geographic location. It can also be any other customer group to whom you’d like to offer free shipping.

How to offer free shipping by customer group: Most eCommerce platforms allow you to segment customers into Customer Groups.  Once you’ve segmented your customers in the backend of your preferred platform, you can then set up a Shipping Rule in ShipperHQ.

Find our step-by-step guide on “How to Set Free Shipping for a Specific Customer Group” here.

5. Delay Free Shipping and Incentivize Faster Shipping

Chances are your customer wants their order yesterday. Keeping this in mind, one strategy to keep free shipping low is to only offer it on slower methods like economy and ground.  You can even delay the dispatch on these goods, if that makes more sense for your business. 

Another common strategy is to add a surcharge for two-day, next day or same day shipping.

Why a surcharge? Keep in mind that many customers need their item as quickly as possible. By adding a surcharge to faster shipping, you can defray the cost of offering free shipping to customers who don’t mind receiving their items at a snail’s pace.

How to add a surcharge to certain shipping methods: ShipperHQ allows you to easily set surcharges on certain shipping methods.

Find out how in our “Use a Shipping Rule to Mark Up a Specific Shipping Method” guide.

6. Pay Attention to Dimensional Shipping

Size matters. The size of the box you ship your product in, that is.

To save money on dimensional packing, instruct your pickers and packers to use the smallest box or packaging unit available for the order. And try to pack multi-item orders into one package whenever possible.

By doing this, you’ll automatically save on shipping when you use the smallest size boxes and the least amount of cartons.

How to maximize savings with dimensional shipping: ShipperHQ’s Dimensional Packing Advanced Feature can guide your pickers and packers to the right box for every shipment, a feature that most eCommerce carts built-in shipping lacks. 

Turn on Dimensional Packing in your ShipperHQ account to achieve more accurate shipping rates especially when getting rates from carriers like UPS and FedEx or when using USPS Flat Rate boxes.

Read our case study from to see first hand how ShipperHQ’s dimensional shipping capability can be a game change for their business.


Can free shipping improve customer loyalty? 

Yes, free shipping can enhance customer loyalty by creating a more satisfactory shopping experience. The elimination of unexpected costs can increase the likelihood of customers returning for future purchases.

How to integrate free shipping online? 

To incorporate free shipping into an online store, adjust the settings in the shipping or checkout section of your e-commerce platform. You may specify conditions such as a minimum order value or specific regions for the offer to apply.

Should free shipping have a minimum order? 

While it’s not mandatory, having a minimum order amount for free shipping can ensure profitability by incentivizing larger purchases.

Should free shipping be seasonal? 

Offering free shipping seasonally, especially during peak shopping seasons like holidays, can drive sales and attract new customers.

How to announce a free shipping offer? 

Announcing a free shipping offer can be done through various marketing channels. This could include email newsletters, social media posts, website banners, or even as a notification on your mobile app.

Can free shipping be region-specific? 

Yes, businesses often limit free shipping offers to certain regions due to variations in shipping costs. Shipping providers often have different rates depending on distance, so it’s essential to factor these into your decision.