Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guaranteed satisfaction and free shipping? Sign me up!


L.L. Bean, founded in 1912, has always guaranteed 100% consumer satisfaction – no questions asked.  I know because I once returned something I bought from them.  Based on my experience, only a few other retailers offer the same guarantee – B&H Photo and Bloomingdales.  Not coincidentally these vendors are my favorites and I use them for my purchases whenever appropriate.

Now comes word that L.L. Bean is about to start a new campaign offering free holiday shipping.  (Mahoney, 2011)  Good for them.  A recent study from Kantar Media shows that 77% of respondents say that free shipping would encourage them to make online purchases, while 60% say they would avoid purchasing products online if they have to pay for shipping. (Loechner, 2011)

So what do you think?  What motivates you more, fewer hassles or free shipping?  Will either cause you to change your selection of preferred vendors?

Mahoney, S. (2011, September 16) L.L. Bean Rolls Out New Ad Campaign. Retrieved September 21, 2011, from

Loechner, J. (2011, September 22)  Email And Fee Shipping Woos Online Shoppers. Retrieved September 22, from


  1. Free shipping is great but is it enough to switch from one vendor to another? The consumer still needs to pay the taxes on the purchase. During the holidays most online retail establishments have heavy discounts to entice the online purchase or have free shipping. Free shipping is a bonus but not a feature to change where I shop from. Online shopping is a god-send, click and it comes to your door.
    Susan D.

  2. I like free shipping, but you know what I like even better? Free two day shipping! Amazon launched free prime membership for college students about a year ago. Amazon Prime members get free two day shipping and one day shipping for only $3.99. I think its a great deal and because of that I use Amazon as my main online vendor. When I buy a product online I usually want it as soon as possible, but paying 20 to 30 dollars for one day shipping doesn't seem reasonable. I think that its a great idea for vendors to use this technique to attract customers. Another example is, one of their main selling points in their ads is "your entire order ships for only $2.95", its not free but its cheap, and it got me to visit their website. I didn't buy anything because I didn't find a product I liked, but I would have if there was. In my opinion having free shipping doesn't guarantee someone will buy a product from a particular vendor, yet it will encourage potential customers to check out the vendor and it's product offering.

    Salim L

  3. Free shipping is always a good incentive to push the customer to buy and order products. I used to work at a Barnes and Noble bookstore and whenever we had to special order a book for a customer we always informed them that, if the entire order was more than $25, we’d waive the shipping fee completely. This allowed us to sell more orders that were whipped either to the store or directly to their homes. And we were able to add on one or two smaller books to the order if what they originally wanted was less than the price needed, allowing for more books to be sold. Free shipping has that effect on people, I think, mainly because of the word “free,” it drives them to attain that which is Free, even if they end up spending more that the shipping and book combined. On a side note one of my managers hated it hen I told customers it be cheaper just to order the on book than get another to get the free shipping.

  4. Free holiday shipping is great, but personally, during the holidays I'm busy enough as it is.I f given the choice between two websites selling the same product one with free online shipping and one without, I'd go for the free, of course. However, having to pay for shipping during the holidays would not stop me from making my online purchase if it meant I didn't have to rummage through piles at the store, deal with parking and wait on those horrible lines. However, during the year, I'd probably make my way to the store instead of pay for shipping if the online retailer didn't have free shipping. There's usually less of a time pressure and the stores aren't as much of a nightmare. I think LL Bean would find even more success if they could manage to extend that free shipping year round.

    Catherine D

  5. Like Salim, I also try to order just about everything through Amazon for the free TWO DAY shipping. It's a ridiculous deal that most online retailers can't match.

    Regarding free holiday shipping promotions, if it can be guaranteed to arrive on or before said holiday, it takes the hassle out of shopping offline and builds a loyal customer for future holidays.

    When shopping online or in a mall, I have a purpose and a specific purchase in mind. My mind is made up, I know what I want and regardless of the shipping costs. If shipping costs are within reason of course, I usually purchase it. At that point I have done my due diligence, and I am willing to pay for the shipping. If there is a promotion for free shipping, it's an added bonus, however where I will search for the best price, I won't search for free shipping.

    Ben K.

  6. Free shipping is great! I think that most people would switch vendors just to receive free shipping especially if the product being offered is the same that their previous vendor offered. Brand loyalty and familiarality would play a large reason in why customers would not change vendors.

    It is especially beneficial for the company to offer this promotion during the holiday season because of the amount of purchases that occur online. More and more people are purchasing products online and when buying presents for friends and relatives, the shipping charges can add up and be very expensive.


  7. I can't speak for every shopper out there but at least for myself free shipping is a huge motivator when making a purchase. I am a very indecisive shopper especially for clothes, bags and other non-essential items. I will often not buy something unless I have the option to return it, because of this I tend to shop more with retailers who offer free shipping. For me free shopping would definitely motivate me to choose one online retailer over another. For example, this past summer I was looking to purchase a bag and was deciding between two online retailers. Retailer A had the bag for about $10 cheaper than retailer B but retailer B offered free shipping both ways and due to my indecisive nature I decided to go with retailer B just so I could have the option to return the bag for free if I so wished.

  8. The LL Bean post caught my attention because I’m a big fan of their shoes. I knew of their consumer satisfaction pledge and its part of the reason I continue to buy their goods. To me, fewer hassles are more important to me considering I rarely shop online.

    However, looking at the general public I believe that free shipping would gain more sales. Spending less money when purchasing something motivates more people then great customer service at the time of purchase.