Free Shipping Thresholds: How to Turn More Visitors into Customers

May 6, 2021
Melanie Angel

Learn how to optimize your free shipping threshold and promote it onsite with dynamic banners, cart abandonment pop-ups, and other conversion tactics.

The phrase “free shipping” is music to an online shopper’s ears.

Of course, as eCommerce brands know, that tune is more common than ever.

Offering free shipping is no longer an easy way to stand out from the competition; it’s practically required just to keep up! In fact, according to research by the National Retail Federation, 75% of customers now expect free shipping.

Free shipping is great for shoppers, but a bit trickier for many eCommerce stores. After all, offering free shipping eats into profit margins. If customers don’t spend enough on their order, free shipping could force brands to ship those items at a loss.

The solution? Free shipping thresholds.

free shipping pop-up lightbox example
This pop-up lightbox shows a free shipping threshold of $99.

The Benefits of Free Shipping Thresholds

A free shipping threshold provides a happy medium, allowing you to offer free shipping, but only for orders that meet a minimum purchase amount. With a free shipping threshold, you can:

  • Give customers the free shipping they expect.
  • Offer free shipping while ensuring you still turn a profit.
  • Reduce cart abandonment by converting the customers who can be enticed by free shipping.
  • Increase order values by encouraging shoppers to purchase more so they meet that minimum shipping amount.

How to Set Your Optimal Free Shipping Threshold

The benefits of minimum amounts for free shipping are there, as long as you land on the right free shipping amount. But how do you find that amount?

It might take some work, but with a bit of math and rigorous testing, you can optimize your free shipping threshold to increase both sales and revenue.

To start, Shopify recommends determining your median order value. To cover your costs and encourage shoppers to spend more, your free shipping threshold should be higher than your median order value, but not so high that it increases cart abandonment. Make sure you calculate your median, rather than your average order value. That way, your numbers aren't skewed by outliers, such as abnormally large orders.

While every store is different, some other things that may help you determine your free shipping amount include:

  • Your profit margins. If your profit margins are tight, you may need to set your free shipping threshold higher, while higher profit margins may allow you to offer free shipping at a lower rate.
  • The average cost of each item in your store. If your customers typically order just one item, you can set your threshold high enough that it requires shoppers to order an additional item to receive free shipping.
  • Your most popular items. Similarly, if customers tend to order a particular item, set your threshold just above that item to encourage shoppers to add to their cart.
  • Customer lifetime value. If repeat purchases are your goal, it may be worth setting a lower free shipping threshold to get your foot in the door.

Then, you can run A/B tests on your eCommerce site promoting free shipping amounts. Test different shipping thresholds to determine at which point your conversion rates, cart abandonment rates, and profits best line up in your favor.

How to Promote Free Shipping on Your Site with Banners and Pop-Ups

Once you set your threshold (or at least figure out a few amounts to test), it’s time to promote your offer on your site. You can use the pop-up builders provided by your shopping cart solution, or you can use an advanced pop-up solution to get total control of your pop-ups, banners, and other onsite messaging.

Display Free Shipping Banners or Bars

By showing your offer in a banner (or bar) at the top of your site, you can let all visitors know about your free shipping threshold.

free shipping banner example
This free shipping banner offers a coupon code for shipping on orders over $50.

Whether you apply free shipping automatically or extend the offer in a promo code, banners give your offer maximum visibility without impacting the user experience. You can also display a unique coupon code that allows customers to unlock free shipping if they spend a certain amount.

[Learn how to add coupon codes to your Digioh banners here.]

Show Targeted Welcome Pop-Ups or Lightboxes to First-Time Visitors

While free shipping banners are a subtle way to spread the word, sometimes you may want to be a little louder. To make sure new visitors know about your shipping offer, show them a welcome pop-up, lightbox, or even a full-screen takeover widget.

full-screen free shipping pop-up lightbox example
This full-screen free shipping lightbox takes over your entire page, making it hard for visitors to miss your promotion.

Of course, full-screen pop-ups are more intrusive, so it’s a good idea to limit how often they appear. Use your pop-up solution’s targeting options to show these boxes on the first pageview to first-time visitors or visitors who haven’t seen your site in a while.

You may also target these lightboxes to traffic from certain referral sources, such as users who visit your site from Facebook. Or, if a returning customer visits your site, improve their customer experience by suppressing intrusive pop-ups during their session.

Finally, if you use large lightboxes or takeover widgets, make sure your pop-ups are mobile-friendly, or use device targeting to deploy the right version of your pop-up to the right device types.

Add a Dynamic Free Shipping Banner to Your Store

Have a free shipping banner on your site? Take it to the next level with dynamic content.

Digioh’s dynamic free shipping banners detect cart values, allowing you to show shoppers how much more they need to spend before they get free shipping. When shoppers add or remove items from their cart, the banner updates automatically to reflect the new required amount.

dynamic free shipping banner example
Dynamic free shipping banners update automatically to reflect a shopper's cart value.

Once shoppers hit the threshold, the banner notifies them that they’ve unlocked free shipping and invites them to check out, as you can see in the example pop-up below:

example of a dynamic pop-up that updates automatically to show the free shipping threshold
This pop-up updates automatically based on current cart values. When shoppers hit the free shipping amount, the CTA changes to invite them to complete their purchase.

If you offer targeted free shipping offers to certain segments of your audience, you can also use dynamic banners to display a dynamic, one-time-use coupon code allowing individual visitors to unlock free shipping.

To make the coupon redemption process even easier, you can also add a click-to-copy button that allows shoppers to quickly add their coupon code to their clipboard.

Whether you show off your shipping threshold with a banner, pop-up, or both, Digioh provides customizable pop-up templates, allowing you to launch your new free shipping messages quickly.

How to Prevent Cart Abandonment when Shoppers Don’t Meet Free Shipping Thresholds

Unfortunately, free shipping thresholds won’t convert all of your shoppers.

Some shoppers will meet the threshold and leave anyway. Others may add items to their cart, see that they don’t meet the free shipping requirement, and abandon your site out of frustration.

But you don’t have to let free shipping thresholds send your shoppers elsewhere. Here are a few ways to convert shoppers who may fall short of free shipping.

Remind Shoppers of Free Shipping Amounts with Exit-Intent Pop-Ups

Maybe they were in a hurry and didn’t see your free shipping offer. If a visitor moves their mouse to leave your site, show them an exit-intent pop-up promoting your free shipping threshold.

exit intent cart abandonment popup

You can also use exit-intent pop-ups to sweeten the deal with a free gift, show an additional promotion, or even just let shoppers know if the item is almost out of stock.

Help Shoppers Add Items to their Cart with Personalized Product Recommendations

If shoppers fall short of your free shipping threshold, help them hit the target with product recommendations. Display pop-ups with items that complement the things they’ve already added to their cart.

dynamic cart abandonment popup promoting free shipping threshold
This dynamic exit-intent pop-up recommends products based on the contents of a shopper's cart.

Or, you can invite shoppers to discover new products for themselves with a product recommendation quiz.

product recommendation quiz CTAs
A few examples of product recommendation quiz pop-ups.

If you can connect new shoppers with perfectly-matched products, you might even bring them back to make repeat purchases.

(P.S. Want to create a quiz for your Shopify store? We've got a how-to guide for product recommendation quizzes here.)

Show a Countdown Timer with an Additional Incentive to Convert

Countdown timers can help you add an increased sense of urgency to your promotions and offers. For abandoning visitors, you can use timers to extend a limited-time-offer, or just inform visitors that their cart items will only be reserved for a short time.

Show countdown timers in a banner at the top of your site, or create a countdown timer pop-up that appears on exit-intent.

countdown timer cart abandonment pop-up
Countdown timer pop-ups can inform both desktop and mobile users of ongoing promotions.

The added sense of urgency may help you convert more shoppers.

Allow Shoppers to Save Their Cart to Their Email

Maybe shoppers aren’t ready to pull out their credit cards just yet. If shoppers start to leave your site with items in their cart, Digioh allows them to “save” their cart items to their email.

save cart to email popup
Digioh's "save cart to email" feature grabs a visitor's browsing history or cart contents and sends those products in a personalized email.

This has two benefits: customers can conveniently save their cart for later, and you can invite them to sign up for your email list in the process. That way, even if these shoppers don’t complete their purchase, you have a channel to send targeted, personalized promotions to them in the future.

Drive More Sales with Dynamic Free Shipping Banners, Pop-Ups, and Other eCommerce Conversion Tools.

Digioh’s suite of eCommerce conversion tools allows brands to create dynamic free shipping banners, exit-intent pop-ups with dynamic coupon codes, product recommendation quizzes, post-purchase surveys, and more. To learn how Digioh can help you recover abandoned carts and grow revenue, take a tour of our platform today!

Melanie Angel
Marketing Manager
Melanie is a marketing manager at Digioh. When she's not doing the B2B SaaS marketing thing, you can probably find her watching soccer, playing skeeball, or seeing a show. She lives in Austin, TX, with her 0 pets and 1 guitar.

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