December 01, 2018
How to Offer Free Shipping on Your WooCommerce Site

Everyone loves free shipping. It’s a great way to encourage customers to buy in the moment and helps you level the playing field against larger online stores. And if you’re hesitating, just remember that customers have a choice. When faced with a site adding a “$5 shipping charge” or one with “Free shipping included” which one would you choose?

As a small to medium-size business, free shipping should be in your marketing toolbox, so I’m going to show you how to offer free shipping on your WooCommerce site, and how to set up a WooCommerce free shipping coupon.

Why Should You Offer Free Shipping?

The offer of free shipping can win customers, but it can also be expensive for small business owners. Shipping costs are a key factor, however, when your customer is deciding whether to buy your product.

Studies have shown that online shoppers value “Free shipping” much more than a discount coupon — even if the price works out the same. Customers are often willing to accept longer delivery times if it means they avoid paying for shipping.

And a survey by SmartInsights showed that 61% of online shoppers abandon their cart if they discover a shipping charge has been added to their purchase. Customers object to paying extra for shipping as they look at it as part of the whole online shopping experience.

On the other hand, some customers are happy to pay premium shipping charges if they want an item to arrive quickly. You can use this premium option to offset those free shipping costs, and reduce the hit on your profit margins. A lack of shipping options is another reason for abandoned carts.

So a popular choice for business owners is “Free shipping with conditions” — and 60% of ecommerce sites say it’s their top marketing tool.

How do these tools and options benefit your business?

How to Offer Free Shipping Without Losing Money

There are several ways to offer free shipping and the easiest to set up is free shipping on everything you sell. Another option that lessens the impact on your business is to only offer this at specific times of the year like during a spring sale or around major holidays.

But as a startup or small to medium-size business, it’s not always possible to offer free shipping across your product range — especially on big-ticket items. If you ship goods around the world, you already know international shipping is expensive, but domestic shipping costs can also be high to places like Hawaii, the Caribbean, or Alaska.

By offering “Free shipping with conditions” — for example, free shipping once you spend a certain amount — you can still attract customers and offset the cost to you. WooCommerce makes this easy to do. You can set up your WooCommerce site to offer free shipping after a minimum purchase amount. This will encourage your customer to add something extra to get their goods shipped free. Or offer free shipping on specific, low-cost-shipping product lines, or if consumers buy multiples of items.

Another way to generate sales using free shipping is by offering discount coupons or loyalty programs to your email subscribers or your social media tribe.

Testing Free Shipping

If you are not sure whether free shipping is going to be profitable for your business, there are a few ways you can test it.

To launch a meaningful test, you need to know your base cost and profit margins for every product, and you must factor in the cost of shipping heavy items. Once you know the size and weight of your big items, check with your preferred shipping agents for accurate costs.

Set up an A/B test that offers free shipping only on certain products. For example, you could start with your top-selling items and compare conversion rates between the customers offered free shipping and those who weren’t.

For the “Free with conditions” option, you could slowly increase your minimum free-shipping order value and again compare margins.

Another obvious way to absorb free shipping costs is by increasing the price of all your products and then comparing conversion and sales. The risk here is that you could make your products too expensive in your market.

Although it takes up valuable time, by continually testing your free shipping options you’ll quickly identify the methods that are the most profitable for your business, and the ones to avoid. What matters is to do something about it – the cost of not presenting attractive shipping options is too high.

Benefits of Free Shipping

Your customers are more likely to buy if there are no hidden surprises when they check out. Free shipping reduces cart abandonment.

There’s also the potential bonus for you if the customer adds an extra item to meet the minimum amount and claim their free shipping. And by offering free shipping with longer delivery times, you reduce the pressure on your business to ship fast. You can take advantage of lower costs offered by shipping agents.

Results from a comScore survey showed that many customers will only buy from online stores offering free shipping. This is not surprising when you consider the massive choice of online stores, and how easy it is to compare suppliers. By marketing your free shipping to this customer demographic, you can increase your conversion rate and build a loyal following.

So, let’s dive in and work through how to set up WooCommerce free shipping options.

Free Shipping: How to Set up for Everything You Sell

Go to your WooCommerce menu Settings > Shipping. Select the Shipping zone.

Click on Add shipping method.

Click on Add shipping method.

Select the Free shipping option from the menu. Configure the Free Shipping option by selecting N/A. Save your changes. Your customers will now get free shipping with every purchase they make on your store.

Free Shipping: How to Set up With a Minimum Spend

Select the Shipping zone.

Select the Free shipping Settings.

Enter a title e.g., Free shipping with minimum spend.

Free shipping with minimum spend

Enter the minimum amount your customer must spend and/or the free shipping conditions. Save changes. Customers will get free shipping when they spend the minimum amount, use a coupon, or use a combination.

How to Set up Free Shipping Coupons

You should think of discount coupons as another tool in your marketing strategy. It’s a way to mix up your marketing promotions.

You can:

  • Send coupons to your social media followers and email subscribers to say thank you for following your business or individual products.
  • Add coupons to your newsletters or use them as part of your email marketing campaigns.
  • Encourage past customers to return and buy again. This can be very effective if you time-limit the coupon to create a sense of urgency e.g., valid for 24 hours only.

To offer a WooCommerce free shipping coupon, you need to enable this feature on your dashboard.

On the WooCommerce menu, go to Settings > General.

Check the box Enable the use of coupon codes.

Check the box Enable the use of coupons codes.

Save changes. Once you’ve enabled the use of coupon codes, you can go ahead and create individual coupons. Go to your WooCommerce menu Settings > Coupons. Select Add Coupon then configure the settings.

Add coupon to configure the settings

Here are some of the choices you’ll need to make as you create your coupon.

Coupon Code: Your customer will enter the code at checkout to claim their free shipping. Therefore, every coupon you create must have a unique name or number.

Description: This is optional and only visible to you, not the customer. If you want, you can use it to add useful notes. You might add promotion details, start or end date, or the subscriber list.

Discount type: You can set a percentage discount for specific products, a fixed cart discount that offers a discount on the total value of the customer’s cart, or a fixed product discount, which offers a fixed discount (in dollars) per item.

Coupon amount: To set the amount of the discount you want to offer, simply enter a basic number. It doesn’t need a currency or percent symbol. WooCommerce will adjust the cart automatically depending on the type of discount you set e.g., 15 for 15% or $15.

Allow free shipping: This gives the customer free shipping when the coupon is used. Enable “Free shipping” to use this feature.

Coupon expiry date: This option allows you to set a date after which the coupon is no longer valid.

Coupon Usage Restrictions

This screen allows you to set a variety of options to restrict how the coupon can be used.

You can exclude sale or individual products or specify items that must be purchased in order to qualify for free shipping.

Coupon restrictions

Here are definitions for the options available.

Minimum spend: The amount your customer must spend to use the coupon.
Maximum spend: A maximum amount allowed using the coupon.
Individual use only: Prevents customers from combining this offer with other coupons.
Exclude sale items: Prevents customers from applying the coupon to sale items.
Products: Specifies products that must be in the cart to allow the coupon to be used.
Exclude products: Specifies products that may not be included in the coupon discount.
Product categories: Specifies product categories the coupon can be used for, or that must be in the cart for the coupon discount to work.
Exclude categories: Specifies product categories that the coupon cannot be used for (i.e. they must not be in the cart).
Allowed emails: Specifies email address(es) that can use the coupon.

Usage Limit

Usage limit per coupon: Specifies the number of times a coupon can be applied.
Limit usage to X items: Specifies a maximum number of items to which the coupon can be applied.
Usage limit per user: Specifies the number of times a customer can use the coupon.

Hit Publish to save your settings.

Congratulations! Your coupon is now ready for use.

Test Free Shipping to Help Your Business Grow

With careful planning, offering WooCommerce free shipping on all or some product lines can provide startups and small to medium-size businesses several benefits:

  • Build trust and customer loyalty
  • Boost online sales
  • Increase conversion rates

Nothing is guaranteed, but WooCommerce makes it easy to test a free shipping offer, assess the results, and determine the mix of discounts and charges that’s optimal for your business.

Grow Your Ecommerce Business With Managed WooCommerce Hosting

In addition to the shipping strategies we’ve listed here, a great hosting plan can be instrumental to growing your business. Fortunately, Nexcess has you covered.

Our fully managed WooCommerce hosting plans are ideal for growing businesses. Specially designed to convert more sales, the plan is packed with cutting-edge technologies to reduce query load times and cart abandonment rates.

To learn more about fully managed WooCommerce hosting, check out our plans today.


Nexcess, the premium hosting provider for WordPress, WooCommerce, and Magento, is optimized for your hosting needs. Nexcess provides a managed hosting infrastructure, curated tools, and a team of experts that make it easy to build, manage, and grow your business online. Serving SMBs and the designers, developers, and agencies who create for them, Nexcess has provided fully managed, high-performance cloud solutions for more than 22 years.

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