Indie Beauty Brands Grapple With Whether To Offer Free Shipping

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 11 founders and executives: Why do you or do you not offer free shipping for e-commerce purchases?

Anthony Davis Founder, iON Performance

As a new startup, it is challenging to offer free shipping on all sales. However, we have recently expanded our shipping options to help customers feel the love and provide free shipping for orders over $100. We will also be launching a VIP program soon that will offer free shipping to customers who subscribe.

Julianne Robicheau Founder, Robi Luxury Skin Care

I do have a free shipping option if you spend $50 in Canada and US. If a customer spends less than $50, they’re charged a $10 flat rate. I think it’s a reasonable flat rate seeing as $50 isn’t an unreasonable spend in my shop.

Totally free shipping isn’t sustainable for my business as my prices are already quite competitive for the quality. It’s something I’m willing to revise in the future if it makes sense financially.

Melissa Kimbell Founder, Awake Organics

We offer a free shipping incentive on orders of £29.99. We tried a few different strategies to incentivise online sales in our first year. We tested percentage-off promo codes, free samples and free standard U.K. shipping individually for a few months and, then, analyzed the results.

It was clear based on sales numbers that our customers made the most use of the free shipping incentive. We were also able to double our average cart value, which was only £14.99 at the time. Free shipping incentivised customers to try a new, more expensive product or order more quantities of our entry-level products.

Amanda Stultz Owner and Founder, Sitronu

Unfortunately, at this stage of our business model, we can only afford to offer free shipping on orders $75 and above and even that is a stretch depending on where we are shipping. The harsh reality of a small business is that you can’t compete with the larger companies and offer free shipping on all orders.

I do think it turns people away from completing their purchases, but our margins are purposely thin to begin with. One of our objectives, especially given our location in Virginia, was to price the products so we can make a small profit, but still be affordable to the average woman out there so that natural and organic [products] are not just for the affluent.

I also only offer one discount code. So, if you use a 10% off coupon and your order is more than $75, you would have to choose. I have had a customer complain about this, but, if I did both, I would be giving the product away for free.

Conny Wittke Founder and CEO, nügg

We offer free shipping for orders over $20. I believe it’s important to do that because our customers expect it and so do I from other sites I shop from.

Michelle Ranavat Founder, Ranavat Botanics

We offer free shipping over $50. I believe you want to minimize the points of friction in the buying processes, and shipping is just one of those things that will trigger people to abandon their cart. Also, now that most people buy on Amazon, they are not expecting to pay for shipping, so that was an important consideration as well.

Patti Pao Founder and CEO, Restorsea

We offer free two day shipping via FedEx. We did this because: 1) I always think it is tacky to charge customers for shipping. I don’t like to pay for shipping which is why we made the decision to offer free shipping, and 2) Our enzyme is very temperature sensitive, which is why we want to deliver it to the customer as soon as possible.

Matthew Schirle CEO and Founder, SkinKick

We offer free shipping. We are an Amazon Exclusive Brand, and Amazon is setting the industry standard for CPG products that shipping will be free for the consumer. Well, nothing is free, so the cost of shipping simply shows up in the price of the product.

Sébastien Tardif CEO and Co-Founder, Veil Cosmetics

We've been offering free shipping for almost three years now to take down the barriers and reach more clients for whom shipping cost is a mental barrier that they would not face in a store.

James H. La Founder, NIUCOCO

We offer free shipping, but with a minimum buy. You have to look beyond just the basic cost of shipping. You have to take into consideration the long-term value of a customer.

Martyna Plewka Founder, Forest Hive

Not yet. I think it’s important to recognize where you are at in your business and what makes logistical sense for you. Based out of the U.K. and shipping worldwide, especially given the delicate nature of the products, we want to safeguard them as much as possible.

We have plans and would love to introduce free shipping once we’re in a more financially-viable position to do so. As a new independent brand, in order to service our B2B customers - restaurants, hotels and spas - and scale, we pour all our profits into the business.

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