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Joanne Grantz
 
February 9, 2016 | Fulfillment/Shipping | Joanne Grantz

Reduced shipping minimums: Cost or opportunity?

Free or reduced shipping has become the widespread expectation among consumers today. As Practical Ecommerce pointed out, the success of Amazon Prime has conditioned shoppers to search for online retailers that offer this benefit. However, different industries and smaller businesses can't always keep up with larger online retailers that have the funds and technology to meet consumers' demands in this area.

Another aspect of the fulfillment challenge worth considering is the option to implement shipping minimums. According to Internet Retailer, of the 309 businesses on its top 1,000 study that featured free shipping thresholds, 87 percent maintained those order minimums. If you're running an online wine store, it's important to offer fast, affordable and convenient shipping. Order minimums, when executed strategically, can be a good way to appeal to consumers expectations while continuing to earn viable revenue.

The unique challenge for wineries
Of course, one of the greatest challenges you overcome operating a successful online wine store is finding a way to ship wine effectively. In the face of a changing customer landscape, wineries must finds solutions to the following:

  • Consumers want shipping options that are fast and inexpensive.
  • There are more complex regulations surrounding the shipment of wine and offers for free delivery that don't apply to other industries.
  • Shipping wine requires advanced care and technology to ensure the product arrives in the same condition it was in when it left the fulfillment center.

With these challenges in mind, you must find creative ways to offer shoppers what they want while still maintaining compliance as well as the integrity of your product.

Order thresholds are a viable option
There are plenty of fulfillment strategies you can employ to make your online wine store a success. For one, offering free or reduced shipping as a perk for wine club membership is a great way to drive membership and reward shoppers. However, implementing order minimums is another great way to give consumers what they want without taking a major dip into your bottom line.

Nikki Baird, managing partner with RSR Research, told Internet Retailer that manipulating free shipping thresholds can benefit online retailers and influence consumer behavior. The key is to understand your audience, their preference and the amount of money they are willing to spend on wine. If you're able to determine a set, realistic minimum that is easy to reach, your online wine store will stand out among the competition.

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