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Setting up a store.



5:40 am on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Okay I'm just about to open a store with my partner(Father), who owns a local retial Vacuum shop. As you probably guessed we will be selling vacuums online. I'm telling him what we need to do in order to effectively use our advertising budget, which is offer "Free shipping over $75, and Free return shipping". Oboviusly he doesn't understand why we would ever do this. So I came back saying

In order to get the consumer to buy in our store, we have to make them feel comfortable and offer things the "big" etailers do. That consumers would rather spend the $5-10 bucks on a ticket price item of $100+ on a store that they know is reputable, ie. Amazon.com. He said that probably people will buy a item and people will return it for free, and have their funds sucked out of our bank.

Can anybody help me out with what we should do, can you PM your store URL so I can see what things that have worked for you, and what has not. Thank You.


3:03 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Free shipping over $75

That would be good to use for a promotional period, to draw customers to your newly opened store. This may also be used effectively during times of the year that your online store sales drops.

I would not recommend an online store to offer free shipping, especially when you are just starting out. This will be an extreme money loss and after all, shipping vacuums are not the cheapest thing to do.

If you still want to offer free shipping, why don't you try it out for a couple of weeks/months? This way, you will be able to tell if this plan will work financialy.

Free return shipping

This sounds like a good idea, so it would be less hassel for your potential repeat buyers. Some customers would be weary of buying a vacuum, and knowing they would have to pay for return shipping, if something was wrong with it. Again, vacuums do not ship cheaply.

I would not recommend you advertise "Free Return Shipping" on your homepage, because buyers may think that you offer this because your vacuums get returned/broken a lot. You should only state "Free Return Shipping", in an FAQ, or your return policy page.

In my own experience:
If a customer needs to return a product, and ask you how to go about doing it, they may feel surprised and relieved that they do not have to pay for shipping. This may encourage the customer to purchase from you again, or tell their friends about the great service.

I hope this helps, and have a happy holidays! :)


4:52 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>Free return shipping

Hey, I could use a new free vaccum for my annual spring cleaning!


5:26 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Have you researched the online competition yet? Seems everbody and their brother is selling vacuums online, many are offering free shipping with no limits and discounted prices to boot. Many of the online stores are huge warehouse operations, buying at lower cost and having less overhead than a small store in a strip mall.

Can you compete on price? If not, what is the value proposition for your store? Selection? Customer service? Quick shipping? It's a lot easier to compete locally where you're one of only a few stores that sells vacuums, but on the internet, it's a little bit different.

The free shipping offer on orders is a good idea - make sure your price point is such that anything you ship "for free" doesn't rob you of all your profit. My web site offers free shipping on everything, but we also limit our products to those which are cheap to ship and have enough markup that the shipping doesn't hurt too bad.

I wouldn't offer free return shipping on anything. Especially if you offered free outbound shipping in the first place. It's a policy that will almost certainly get abused. Most web stores have return shipping at customers expense, no returns without an RMA and a 10 to 15% restocking fee on all returns if the original packaging has been opened. Amazon is different - they make enough money on everything else they sell that they can offer free return shipping and take the loss without a huge impact. I wouldn't try to compete with Amazon.


10:01 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>Can you compete on price?

That is a good point, but... if it is already a viable business, they are just adding sales to an existing company. So not a huge risk, might as well try.


9:52 am on Dec 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Try to differentiate. Thought of having a yearly subscibtion model for the bags you use in a vacuum cleaner? "Never run out of vacuumcleanerbags again".

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